Networks: The good, the bad, and the beautiful ways they can benefit your business

Networks: The good, the bad, and the beautiful ways they can benefit your business
21/03/2019

Networks: The good, the bad, and the beautiful ways they can benefit your business

By Phil Harvey

Businesses today are increasingly dependant on effective uses of technology to support its staff, satisfy its customers, and ensure all business operations are completed to a high standard. Whether we’re talking about something as basic as email, or as multifaceted as information-sharing, a reliable IT infrastructure will have a great impact on the day-to-day running of your business.

A major aspect of that infrastructure is the network in which everything is connected. Whilst you may have numerous computers, applications, devices and communication tools at your disposal, you aren’t truly making the most of what they can offer, if they are working in isolation.

In other words, a good network will unify your teams (regardless of where they are located) so that everybody (and their devices) can work seamlessly together. On the other hand, an outdated or poorly designed network can be a huge detriment to your business. That’s why it’s important to be able to spot the differences between a good network and a bad one.

Identifying a good network and the benefits they bring

There’s quite a lot to cover here, so let’s break things down and begin with a simple look at a good network and the many ways they can benefit your business.

Imagine the seamless flow of traffic on a busy motorway. There are no jams, no stop-start bottlenecks, no closed lanes or roadworks. Vehicles move at a consistently swift pace, getting on and off whenever they need to. It’s a commuter’s dream.

Most importantly, it’s also a prime example of how a good computer network operates. But instead of cars and lorries on the road, computerised information (data) is travelling between destination points (devices) via cables or wireless connectivity, depending on the setup.

 

A good network is a highly complex and extremely orderly system — one that allows multiple devices to communicate with each other in a secure, efficient and reliable manner.

The benefits of implementing such a network within your own business are plentiful, but chief among them include:

Resource / device sharing

In a group network, resources such as printers, scanners and storage devices are shared among multiple users. This is really convenient, particularly for larger companies that would otherwise need to purchase numerous printers instead of using just the one printer per team. It also reduces the amount of space being taken up by excess machines, or removes the need for wires altogether should you opt for a completely wireless setup.

Data sharing / increased data storage

In the same way that users connected to a network can access the same resources, authorised users can also share data stored on other computers in the network. This makes it a lot easier for teams to work coherently and efficiently.

Let’s say multiple members of your team are working from the same data file. Rather than store a copy of the same file on every person’s computer, the file can is accessed (by those who need it) from a centralised source. This is an excellent way of conserving storage, while at the same time making the whole process of sharing data far more convenient.

What’s more, an organisation’s total capacity for data storage can be increased tenfold by utilising the combined number of computers connected to a single network.

Access flexibility / communication

One of the true benefits of computer networking comes in its flexibility. You can create a new document on a tablet in a board meeting and then come back to it later on your desktop in your office. So long as the document resides on a central file server or cloud storage, it’s possible to work from anywhere, anytime. This is especially useful for organisations whose teams work remotely or tend to work across multiple sites.

Then there are all the various ways a network allows users to communicate with each other wherever they are located, from email and telephone to video conferencing and groupware. All of which is considerably low-cost.

Identifying a bad network and the signs of underperformance

Now take that same motorway you envisaged earlier, only this time things aren’t going quite so smoothly. Lanes are either closed or congested; vehicles move at a snail’s pace, speed restrictions have been enforced. Traffic is all one-way from here, and somewhere, up ahead, a crash has brought everything to a complete standstill. Yep, it’s the M1.

A bad network is fundamentally the same thing — disorderly, slow and ultimately unsafe. And now all that data is struggling to reach its destination as a result of poorly architected design, outdated/malfunctioning hardware, or limitations in bandwidth stemming the flow. Needless to say, this can put your business in serious jeopardy.

 

So now you understand the differences between a good network and a bad network, what are the signs? If your own computer network is underperforming, it’s vital to be able to identify the problem quickly and work towards a solution that will get you back on track. Here are a few indications you may have a bad network:

Problems with the internet

Congestion of the internet is amongst the most common problems experienced on any network. That’s because so many people are accessing the internet for various purposes. However, any significant issues are typically few and far between, and never really amounting to anything more than the occasional dropout in connection every so often.

But when problems with your connection are more persistent — if you are frequently experiencing slow upload/download speeds, web pages that fail to render, or web pages failing to open altogether — then your network may be the root cause.

Unreliable VoIP

Voice over Internet Protocol (commonly referred to as VoIP) is one of the most flexible and cost-effective methods of communication for businesses today. However, it requires a stable network connection.

If you are having problems with voice quality, or if you’re experiencing excessive background noise, there is a good chance that you have issues with your network. This can be a result of bad network configuration, low bandwidth, or imperfections in the design of your network resulting in an inability to process the amount of data passing through the system.

Application errors

“Oh dear… it looks like something went wrong,” an error message we’ve all read at some point. However, if you see this message every time you open an application then perhaps the devices in your network are running programs that require more power and processing capacities than they can handle — most likely because your network was created long before the need to run those programs was ever considered.

Other problems include latency when updating an application — such as not sending or receiving emails right away — or apps closing down altogether.

System crashes

There are numerous reasons for a system crash, but they typically stem from the health of your computer network as a whole — and can range from the status of your equipment to the environmental conditions in which your network is located. Server rooms, for example, become excessively hot when not adequately ventilated, which can interfere with performance. Improper cabling can also lead to similar issues.

Of course, these are just a few of the things you need to look out for. In any case, it’s always best to get in touch with a proven IT service provider. RDS Global can conduct a free internal Network Review of your business setup and provide an advisable course of action to meet your exact needs.

“RDS have installed and supported our wide area network, helped us upgrade our systems and maximised our speed and performance. With the assistance and expertise from RDS, BSWC have achieved Cyber Essentials and are also highly confident with the General Data Protection Regulations. We see RDS as a safe pair of hands and a long -term partner to BSWC.” – Vaughan Evans, Operations Director – Builders Supplies (West Coast) Ltd

All business network requirements are different depending on the size of your team and the tasks being completed on a daily basis. We provide a tailored solution built around your specific needs, from installation to ongoing maintenance.

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