This is the second guest article to this site. Author of this article is Mr Kushan Weralupitiya. He has obtained his BSc in computer science from University of London and he is an expert in the area of computer networking. Currently he is working as the systems administrator for Royal Institute Colombo.
How to plan a small business computer network
Author - Kushan Weralupitiya
Why we need to network computers?
Many small businesses now have multiple PCs. More than ever, it makes sense to connect them together in a network. If you have multiple PCs and intend to network them or if you are planning on creating a computer network for your new business from ground up, this will help you plan your computer system and the network.
The major uses of setting up a computer network for a small business
- Share a single Broadband Internet connection among multiple computers.
- Share files among computers.
- Use printers, scanners etc. connected to other computers over the network.
What do we need to setup a computer network?
First, you have to ask yourself the following few questions so that you can get a basic idea of what you need.
1. Number of computers (PCs) you want
2. Whom in the company getting a PC?
3. Features of PC’s you’re buying
4. Any other device to be added to the network such as a printer, scanner etc.?
5. How are you going to network them?
6. What are the equipment needed to have them interconnected? (Routers, network hubs/ switches, network cards, wireless access points etc.)
7. Equipment needed to manage the network (Server machines, firewall systems, Server software etc. - only if you are planning on having a managed network. If you need only to network them and share resources no need to think about this)
How to decide the resources required for a computer network?
You can plan the number of PC’s you want according to the number of people working at your workplace. It depends on who’s getting a PC and whose not. If you have couple of divisions in your workplace all of them may not need a PC. For example, the marketing, finance, HR or sales people will be given a PC, but people in departments like packing, delivery may not want a PC.
How to decide the features required for a computer network?
After you plan whom to give PCs and how many PCs your workplace needs, you can decide on features. This depends mainly on what kind of work each person carry out and how much you can spend. My advice is to always buy the latest affordable features, but if your company’s not in a position to buy all new computers, you can buy PCs with lower features or second hand.
Or even you can buy PCs with high features for some people and PCs with low features for others. For example, if it is a graphic designing company your designers may want PCs with latest or high end features to run high end software while the sales and billing personal can be given PCs with lower features.
Usually small businesses in Sri Lanka do not have funding to upgrade their PCs every year or two. Therefore buying PCs with very old features is not advisable because in couple years later you may not be able to find necessary parts in the market. So always think about the future and plan.
How many printers and scanners I should buy for the network?
In the same manner you can decide whether you are going to buy several printers/ scanners or are you going to buy one good printer and share it through the network.
I guess now you have a basic idea on what needs to be done in the process of planning to build a computer netowrk. I'm hoping to explain you how to setup a network in my next article. Until then, have a good day !