Guidelines for Expanding a Network

Most networks grow over time. One of our clients started off as home businesses and grew over a few years to having over 50 employees and several offices. Other groups we support have one office and and sooner or later they add workstations, printers and other resources as they need.

In all events, it is a great idea to talk with an IT consultant (such as us) to get a sense of what will be needed to complete the task. You’ll save yourself a lot of headache by doing this early in the process.

If you need to add a network switch, that’s pretty easy to do. The specification is to not exceed more than 100 meters for a cable segment, but in many office environments the distance is often it is less than this due to sources of interference. Modern switches are typically auto-detecting so simply connect a network cable between the two switches. Be sure to label this network cable as a connector to another switch! Also be sure clearly note the date the new switch was placed in service.

If you are connecting a network between buildings or building firewalls, there are electrical code guidelines that must be followed. But there are a number of ways to achieve this goal, ranging from using fibre optic to using broadband devices and Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), to using Radio and microwave devices.

If you want to add capacity by way of Wireless networking, you’ll need to check to see if there are other wireless networks within range and to find out what channels the nearby networks are using. After that you’ll have to figure out how well wireless devices can find the wireless router from the distances around the office. Once you find the weak areas, you can add additional wireless access points to increase signal strength. Some wireless devices are smart and will detect competing networks nearby and switch to non competing frequencies. These represent the state of the art in wireless networks.

If you want to increase security by installing virtual LANs or segmenting a LAN, first make sure that your routers or managed switches are equipped for this, and that they will perform at the speed of your network. As example, a router that is capable of working with a 10 megabit line will become a bottleneck on a 100 megabit or gigabit network!

Network devices such as firewalls, junk mail filters, vpn servers, remote desktop servers, and other utilities can place complex requirements on networks.

Give use a call today at 206-763-8874 and we can help!