There are many networking devices on the market today that are important for business computers and all internet-connected devices.
Networking devices have two main functions: To control the traffic on your network (including traffic entering the network from external sources) and to provide connectivity between various devices.
On your network, you have a range of connected devices like desktop computers, phones, laptop computers, tablets, phones and more. Networking devices are the components required to connect these devices together so they can all communicate with each other on the network.
Each network device has a different role to play in the overall network, and they are all critical for workers to be able to communicate, access data and share information seamlessly.
In days gone by, these networks were almost always connected via cables. But modern wireless professional solutions allow for these networks to be almost entire cable-free. Below are some of the essential networking devices your business needs, along with some of the physical devices that can connect to your network for a safer, more efficient and more productive workforce.
To ensure you are building and creating a strong and reliable network for your office environment, the first step is understanding the different components that make up this network.
There are numerous devices that can be connected to a network and essential components that link everything together. Here are the primary network devices that you need to get to know for your office network:
Your router is the beating heart of your network when it comes to accessing the internet. All of your internet-connected devices on the network will be funnelled through the router which then connects them to the net. Your router is responsible for a range of additional tasks as well. It provides the optimal route for your information to travel so you get the best network speeds, provide protection against potential security threats and can be used to prioritise internet speed for devices that need higher bandwidth than others.
It is possible to run a small network without a server, but not larger business operations. A peer-to-peer network is when two computers or small office setups are connected to each other by a universal serial bus or wires to connect these computers together. This allows for the simple sharing of basic information and data, but not much else.
By adding a dedicated server to your network you can manage all of the computers and devices connected much more easily. Instead of the devices sending requests to each other, the request is made through the central server. In many cases, users need to access the same information and data which can create bottlenecks without a server managing and processing these requests.
A wireless router only has a defined range where devices can connect and access the internet. If you have a large office or floor space, you may have workstations or devices that sit outside this range. While this problem can sometimes be rectified by getting a router with a wider range, you can also solve this issue with range extenders. These are devices that sit between the wireless router and your internet-connected devices, taking the existing WiFi signal and rebroadcasting it, effectively giving you a wider range for WiFi connection.
These are very similar to range extenders, effectively performing the same role. They connect to the router via ethernet cable or wireless connection and projects the WiFi to a designated part of your business or office. There are two key differences. Access points can handle more devices which makes them better suited to large offices with lots of connected devices. Secondly, there is a seamless connection when a user on a connected device moves around the office. The connection will not drop as they shift from the main router to the access point.
When you have a large business with a wide range of computers, printers, access points and other devices on the network, switches are used to connect them all together as part of the same network. These switches are what enables all of these devices to see each other and be able to send and receive information from each other. When you have a large number of these switches and connected devices, an enterprise switch is a name for the network environment that includes a core switch and then distribution layer switches that operate below it to manage the entire network.
There are different cables used in a network. The three primary cables are ethernet, copper wire and high-speed fibre cables. Media converters are devices used to connect these different cables together for a reliable and connected network.
What is the difference between a modem and a router? A modem is used for networks to connect to the internet. It provides an internet connection, WiFi signal and a limited number of ethernet ports for direct connection. The router connects to the modem and then distributes this internet connection to the various devices in your network that need web access.
Modern security systems are part of your network as well. Internet-connected cameras mean high definition footage can be uploaded directly to the cloud, or to an SD card if the connection to the internet is lost. These cameras can also be independently powered (by solar, battery or both) so they still operate in a power outage as well. This means that other devices on the network can access the security feed as well.
Business networks often require large storage devices to hold data, software and multimedia that can be accessed from any device that is connected to the network. There are two different kinds of storage devices commonly used, network-attached storage (NAS) and storage area network (SAN).
NAS devices usually have multiple hard drives installed in them and are usually used for backing up important data and disaster recovery. They are not ideally suited for transferring large amounts of data outside of disaster recovery, as they can slow the entire network down.
SAN devices are far more complex and share pools of data with designated servers. This makes it easier for workers to access the data that is relevant to them at any time without impacting the speed of the overall network. These are often used to house media libraries, email servers and high use file servers.
A sudden power outage can cause the loss or corruption of files and lost work and productivity. A UPS device is a battery backup that provides an instant source of power if the mains electricity is cut or there is an outage. That way devices on the network can be safely shut down without fear of losing critical business information and data.
A power over ethernet (PoE) switch allows you to power various devices on the network using just an ethernet cable. These switches are commonly used for IP cameras, providing power and internet connection along one cable to save complex wiring issues for devices located in difficult to reach places.
PoE switches can also be used to power a range of other devices like televisions, monitors, laptop computers while PoE technology is also used to power VoIP and video phones.