Selecting enterprise networking gear is often one of the biggest challenges IT professionals face. Not only will you need to buy the right equipment, but you’ll also have to focus on getting every piece of hardware to “talk” to other devices on the network. Picking the wrong hardware can lead to unproductive employees and potentially cost the company a lot of money.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through a list of networking gear to buy and discuss a few considerations to consider when building your enterprise network.
If you’re not sure which business network hardware to buy, you’re not alone. People who have only ever set up small home networks often have no idea where to begin when looking for enterprise-grade gear. Here’s what to add to your shopping list when building a functional and future-proof enterprise network.
Routers are one of the most important hardware for any enterprise network, as you can’t connect to the internet without one.
Both home and business routers have built-in switches and Wi-Fi, but home routers aren’t usually suitable for enterprise use. Home routers can’t switch to a different line if the primary line fails, but enterprise-grade routers can, ensuring network uptime during an outage.
With a business router, you can also segment one large network into a few smaller ones that are easier to manage. Doing this makes each individual network more secure, too.
For the best speeds, choose a router that can handle the bandwidth your internet service provider (ISP) offers. You’ll also need to consider security functions, such as:
The earliest modems only worked over telephone lines, but today’s modems can communicate over TV cable lines, and many are even completely wireless. When selecting enterprise networking gear such as routers, you’ll need to consider your ISP.
If your ISP uses cable internet, you’ll need a cable modem to match. Cable modems can last a long time, and you’ll find plenty of serviceable used models for sale that cost a fraction of the price of a new modem.
DSL and ADSL modems are also worth a look. These modems allow devices to communicate over the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).
DSL modems don’t need to convert digital signals into analog ones, which makes them quite fast and capable of using bandwidth efficiently. DSL download and upload speeds are about equal.
ADSL modems have lower upload speeds and higher download speeds than DSL.
T1 lines are an alternative to DSL that you should consider. These lines have 24 digital voice channels that transmit via a single circuit. T1 lines are slower than DSL, but you won’t have to worry about fluctuating speeds.
Hubs and switches both amplify signals and split one signal into multiple signals. However, hubs are not ideal for business use because they can’t reroute data the way switches can. They also provide low speeds and use bandwidth inefficiently.
Switches are far better suited for enterprise use. Speed is one of the most important things to consider when buying a switch. Avoid switches with a speed of 10/100 Mbps (megabits per second), as this is too slow for most businesses.
A router with a speed specification of 1 Gpbs (gigabits per second) is suitable for most companies. You’ll also see routers with speeds of 10 Gpbs, but this is overkill for all but the largest enterprise networks.
Network adapters are components inside computers that allow them to communicate with other devices on the network. Most modern computers have network adapters already installed, which makes setting up your business IT infrastructure slightly easier.
But if your office uses machines without adapters, you have a couple of options. One option is to install a PCI adapter in a computer. If you’d rather not do that, you can also buy external network adapters that connect to a USB port.
However, to skip the hassle, select computers with built-in network adapters when buying all the equipment your enterprise needs.
Network interface cards identify computers and, similar to adapters, let those computers communicate across the network.
The speed of your network interface card limits your network speed. Even if your cables support a high speed, you can’t take advantage of it with a slow network interface card.
When buying network interface cards, ensure that the ones you choose are compatible with all devices on the network. You’ll also need to decide between Ethernet and wireless cards because the two don’t work with one another.
PoE isn’t necessarily a must-have, but it offers several advantages over traditional outlets and power supplies. PoE allows data transfer over a single cable instead of multiple lines.
Your office can use PoE for nearly any device, including computers, monitors, alarm systems, and even air conditioners. Perks of PoE include:
To build the best network for your enterprise, answer these questions:
Selecting enterprise networking gear can be challenging, but we’ve got you covered here at eNetwork Supply. We offer a great selection of new and pre-owned equipment, as well as testing, sourcing, and repair services for enterprises.
Call eNetwork Supply at (312) 283-5983 to start building your enterprise network.