IT Infrastructure Basics for Small Businesses
You had a great small business idea, came up with a plan, acquired a space, and now you’re ready to set up your IT infrastructure. If you’re not an IT professional, this may be a daunting task. There are many different aspects of IT infrastructure that you need to consider based on your business size, type, and specific needs. There’s a lot of work to be done to get your business ready to go, so let’s get started.
The Planning Stage is Key
Regardless of what you need for your small business’ IT infrastructure, plan everything out before you start laying a single wire or installing a single workstation. A great planning stage can make the difference between a well-organized, easily adjustable IT infrastructure and cable spaghetti with an inability to scale your infrastructure quickly and effectively.
Finding the Best Internet Type and Provider
In this day and age, businesses need to have some kind of internet capabilities in order to compete. You need to be present online, be active on social media (where prospective clients and customers are already), and you need to have access to quick methods of ordering supplies and getting information. In order to do any of this, you need to have a cost-effective, useable internet service that doesn’t slow you down unnecessarily. Depending on where you live and what kind of business you are running, you may have several options available, such as cable, fiber optic, and satellite internet.
Setting Up Your Network
Create and set up a network that works best for your company’s size and industry. Your network will allow you to easily share files between computers as well as use peripherals (scanners, printers, etc.). Depending on how large or small it needs to be, a network may consist of a single wire connecting two computers, a wireless or wired router, or perhaps a more complex system of networking including servers and data storage. Make sure to implement various forms of business network redundancy to keep your business running in case of a network failure.
If you have a small, single-location business, a LAN (local area network) should be ideal for what your business needs, while a WAN (wide area network) is more suited for businesses that have larger office buildings or multiple locations. This way, you connect the computers you need to without using more energy or more expensive equipment than you require. Don’t forget to secure your data network appropriately as well.
Data Center, Co-Location, Cloud Storage, or a Combination?
How your company will store data is a major decision. Small businesses have a lot of options available to them, and which is best typically depends on how much data storage you need, how much space you have, and what will be most cost-effective for your company. An on-site data center can be costly, but you’ll have more control over it. Make sure you follow data center cabling and network design best practices if you choose this route, and be sure do all you can to improve energy efficiency in your data center as well to reduce costs.
However, you may choose to have your data stored off-site in an independent data center, by a colocation provider, or in the cloud. There are plenty of things to consider if you are deciding between a data center or a colocation provider, as each has its own advantages and disadvantages that may or may not work for you. On the same token, cloud computing for business also has some significant benefits that you might want to consider, not to mention that cloud disaster recovery services are a must to prevent downtime (and lost money!) after a disaster.
Cables: Laying them Out, Managing Them, and Figuring Out What You Need
Cabling is critical to maintaining a flexible, neat, and properly running IT infrastructure in your small business. If you just pick cables at random and lay them out as you go, you’ll likely find yourself with too-long patch cables, untested (and improperly functioning) Ethernet cables, incorrectly placed power cables, and an unlabeled, confusing mess of cable spaghetti. It isn’t pretty, it isn’t productive, and it isn’t safe. That’s why you should determine wiring and cabling needs ahead of time and take precautions to avoid these common mistakes.
Fire Alarm Systems: Not as Basic as You Think
There is more than just your basic fire alarm system out there available for businesses. A more robust commercial fire alarm system carries with it the added benefits of safety, cost minimization, quick response times, and more, especially when integrated with your other IT systems.
No matter how big or small your business is, securing your assets – including your employees’ safety, your data, and your property – should be a top priority. You need to protect your investments, after all, in both a proactive and reactive capacity. That’s why you should consider security surveillance systems and IT security awareness training for employees, establishing security systems and protocols early and making sure that all employees are on board with them. Keep in mind that access control systems are useful for a variety of types of businesses, so be sure to choose the right one (if any) for yours.
Traditional Landline or VoIP?
Part of establishing your IT infrastructure includes determining the best type of phone system for your business. There are different options regarding landlines and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) that can make significant differences in sound quality, phone connectivity, and costs, so weigh the choice between traditional vs. VoIP phone systems carefully.
Meeting Rooms and Video Conferencing: Are These Options Necessary?
Your small business IT infrastructure should also work to help you interact with your clients, customers, and employees in the best, most effective ways possible. If you are a small business with clients all over the state or the country or even all over the world, you may want to consider video conferencing solutions for your company, which can carry a number of advantages over traditional calls and other methods of communication. If you are frequently holding employee or client meetings at your office, look into meeting and conference room technology solutions that can improve the overall experience (making you more likely to get the point across and close the deal). For example, you may want to look into content sharing devices, projectors, A/V equipment, or other options.
Determining How Your Small Business’ IT Infrastructure Will Be Handled
Regardless of what you need for your small business’ IT infrastructure, make sure it will be handled by the right people from the start as well as in the long run. Whether you intend to hire internal IT professionals or use outsourced, managed IT services, it’s important to know that your IT infrastructure will be designed, installed, and maintained by knowledgeable, experienced experts.
Whether you need help with the initial setup and installation you want a partnership for ongoing maintenance, updates, and more, Customer 1st Communications can help with our numerous IT Infrastructure services. We will work with you, within your timeframe, and within your budget to determine the best, most effective IT infrastructure for your small business, from the basics to the more complex aspects. Call 855-TECH-C1C (855-832-4212) today or contact us online for a free consultation with one of our professional IT infrastructure experts.