Computer Networks

One of the most common goals small businesses strive for when they have multiple computers, is to network them for better information exchange. For most small businesses, a Client/Server approach is what is needed. With this arrangement you have a single centralized server (or in some cases multiple servers) that provide a central repository for storing shared files, sharing printers and other resources. This approach provides for better organization of your data, simplifies administration, improves security and overall improves the flow of information between your computers. This is the number one most sought after task we perform for our clients. Whether you have an existing network that needs to be properly tuned, or you have no network at all, we can help make your computers more productive for you, through proven networking techniques. Below are some of the essential tasks we will perform in setting up Client/Server networks:
  • Acquire reliable hardware from a proven vendor such as HP or Dell. Both of these manufacturers offer products tailored for the small business budget, while still maintaining high availability features such as RAID (extra hard drives allocated for immediate failover), dual power supplies, dual network interface cards, and other forms of redundancy. This minimizes the effects of hardware failures if they should happen to occur. For example, if a hard drive fails in the server, you will likely not even notice it because the server distributes it's data across multiple hard drives. When a drive fails, you replace it live, and there is no down time. That feature alone adds enormous reliability because hard drives are one of the few components in a server that has moving parts, so you need good protection from general wear an tear in that area.

  • Install the Server Operating System onto the server hardware. Many people think of a server as the physical computer that you see sitting in the server rack, and that is true, but it only becomes a server when you install an operating system that performs that function. So in reality, it is the server software (the networking operating system) that is the server. We recommend Microsoft products for this purpose as it is the most proven technology out there, and backed by substantial research and development to make the products continually improve. When you choose Microsoft, you are sure to have a product that will be sufficiently supported, and very intuitive to use. This is why we recommend the Windows Server operating systems. These server products offer most of the full enterprise class features found in fortune 500 companies, but scaled and priced for the small business. For example, one of the reasons the product is so affordable is its licensing. If you only have 10 employees, you are not paying for power you don't need. This server software comes in five user license incriments, and includes several core components including the IIS WEB server. The entry level cost for the OS is under $1000.

  • Install security protection. This involves first and foremost, a firewall. You may have noted that many operating systems including desktop operating system such as Windows 7, include there own built in firewall. While these are helpful to have, they are not sufficient on their own. What is needed is a hardware firewall that stands between your computers, and the outer Internet. These devices filter out malicious traffic before it even gets to your PC. In addition, hardware based firewalls perform a function called "NAT" (Network Address Translation) which essentially builds an internal network that is invisible to the public Internet, then the firewall performs translations between the public Internet, and your private (invisible) network. In summary, firewalls help keep the bad guys out. But beyond that you need further protections from things like viruses, spyware, and other forms of malware. These are all things we will advise you on as we build your network.

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