Articles >>Build a small business IT infrastructure

As the world of business becomes more reliant on the underlying Information Technology (I.T.) infrastructure, it's crucial that your IT supports your business plan.  When developing an IT plan for your business it's important to understand what IT capabilities your business needs.  If this is a law firm, a medical office, or a brokerage firm, it's important to consider security.  If this a service firm that relies on communication with its customers and employees, it's important to integrate a central messaging and collaborative software such as an Exchange Service.

Small Businesses must have a solid backbone when it comes to servers, networks and switches. The correct hardware and software selection could mean the difference between a system that is fast, secure and reliable and a system that has large holes which could become a costly problems.  When picking a server or a workstation always plan ahead! As the size of the businesses increase the same server that could handle 10-15 users logged into it can all of a sudden become overloaded, slow and non responsive when another 10 computers are added to the network.  Remember its always cheaper to buy hardware that is capable of handling future expansion than to pay two times for less than adequate hardware.

Although last year server model IS cheaper today, it might become obsolete tomorrow, as the software developers constantly push hardware to its limits.  Don't get this wrong however; I'm in no way advocating that spending money to make sure you have the best of the best is a good idea!  You must match your IT needs with your IT goals, it's an overkill to buy a server meant to render Pixar movies in record times simply to run your domain controller  and email, but it's crucial to determine what exactly you want your hardware to do and to always plan ahead!  

If your business has multiple computers, they all use email and some proprietary software, it's always a good idea to start by developing a solid computer network inside the office.  This includes wiring all the workstation outlets with a CAT5 cable and running all the cables back into the server room where it will be connected to the switches. For these computers to have access to the internet they will either have to go through a dedicated server which will function as a gateway to the internet, or a router must be present on the network which will automatically assign IP addresses using DHCP protocol to each workstation. It's also a MUST to have a firewall on the network to prevent any sort of outside threats.

If running a centralized server, an office must have a domain controlled which users can log in and have a certain permissions accesses granted to them. It's crucial to take steps to make sure each user on the server does not abuse their privileges or cause harm to the data or pose a security risk.  Having a centralized server allows for managers to keep tabs on what their workers can and can't do, as well as monitor their workstations and update company's proprietary software from one centralized point. Instead of installing the software on each individual workstation computer and keeping up with everyone's version numbers, it's much easier to have the software installed centrally!

 It's also crucial to consider a backup solutions for your business. As your business grows so does the size of your archives and your every day data.  If its lefts on the server and no other place has a backup of the important company files, it could be a catastrophe the next time a power surge happens, or a hard drive breaks on the server. It's important to have a the data backed up in more than one place, good options to consider is off site backups as well as local in the office backup server.
 Once these steps are complete it's safe to say your small business infrastructure is on the right path.  With time it will become more evident what exact hardware/software you need to run your business, but with a solid network backbone, and a powerful server  it's a sure bet that your business is ready for growth!


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