Friday, November 18, 2005

Benefits of a Small Business Network

Have you ever considered having a network for your small business? You may respond to this question, “Sure I have several contacts of colleagues in my field who I can work with to build my client base.” Well as a small business owner that is all well, in good but for our purposes today I am talking about a small business computer network.

When people hear the term network, especially when they are dealing with computers, they tend to think of a conglomerate of computers linked together by means of a mega-server stored in the company server room – and that is a good example of a network. However, for a small business owner, having a computer network is just the same as a large, enterprise network – only smaller.

Here is the deal, the criteria for determining if your small business is “eligible” to setup a computer network is simple – if you have more than one computer in your office, you are indeed a candidate to create a small business network. A two pc network may seem small in comparison to a large enterprise network however; the functions it provides are similar and powerful.

For our purposes today, I will highlight two possible network architectures that you can use for your small business. The two the most popular small business networks are a peer-to peer and a traditional network. The main differentiation between the two is the use of a server (will explain what exactly a server is in a moment). In a peer-to-peer network what you have is two computers connected together by means of a crossover cable (a crossover cable is similar in appearance to a Cat5 network cable). The crossover cable enables users of the two connected computers to share files, documents, etc. However, security is an issue with the peer-to-peer network. The reason being is that with a peer-to-peer all the files are shared between the two computers. Therefore, anyone using PC number 1 can see all the files and documents on PC number 2. That is not a good situation if you have files on PC number 2 that you do not want the user of PC number 1 to see.

With that in mind, we discuss the traditional network. With a traditional network, files, documents and resources are shared by means of a server. A server is where all the files, documents, etc that are needed by everyone are stored and shared out. Personal files can also be stored on a server. Different access levels can be granted to each file, document or whatever for that matter which makes a traditional network a far more secure option.

In my next blog, we will go into depth about the two kinds of network and even provide some network planning and setup tips.

Til’ next time…Blog on!
Brian J. Winston
CTS Consultant
The Brico Group, Inc.

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