Cloud computing is a offers numerous benefits. But for those who want to keep everything local, controllable and on-premises, there are still plenty of great options to build a powerful, scalable network five proven appliances that can make the local network every bit as good as a cloud-based model when deployed.
Building a local area network (LAN) starts with a router. While many will simply use the router provided by their Internet service provider (ISP), stepping up to a better model can bring with it added advantages in terms of security and speed. The Netgear (News - Alert) N900 dual band router is one example, costing $150, and offering some impressive offerings like guest network access and an advanced QoS system, making it ideal for the wireless devices in the office.
Next is a switch, a device that allows for the widest array of devices to be added to the network. While not as critical for smaller offices, having a switch in place allows for more rapid addition of users and hardware. A Netgear JGS516 switch, available for around $160, is a great place for small businesses to start with.
One of the most important factors in any network is securing it, because keeping information safe keeps the business and its operations safe. But at the same time, there has to be some consideration given for the folks who actually need to access the network, so the firewall shouldn’t become a burden. Some firewalls even offer subscription services like virus protection, so the recurring costs and attendant value provided are also worth considering. The ZyXEL ZyWALL USG20 ($145) provides some sound protection, and is well-suited for small businesses.
The next feature is a virtual private network (VPN), which handles security and privacy for a multi-user network. Netgear’sProSecure UTM25 VPN and Firewall ($415) has many of the great features that users would need to secure their network. It's also an ideal way to shore up the firewall defenses and make the network more secure.
Lastly, there's the issue of storage. Network attached storage (NAS) devices not only provide a place for sensitive information to reside, but also make it readily accessible to those users on the network. Particularly useful in the NAS field is any system that offers automatic data backup or at least allows for backup schedules to be created. The Buffalo LinkStation Pro Duo ($240) offers fully two terabytes worth of storageand can be expanded outward if extra storage becomes necessary.
Cloud-based networking is a valuable tool, but it's not for everyone, especially those who want local control and largely one-time expenditures as opposed to a monthly bill. Setting up a network for small business and finding the right equipment for the job just might be simpler than previously thought.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein