If you are looking into computer networking services in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, Racine County, Wisconsin, or Lake County, Illinois (well, OK, pretty much anywhere, but for now, let’s focus on here in our backyard), you are very likely looking for reliability, security, stability, and a boost in business productivity (a.k.a. speed). With this guide, we are looking to cut straight to the chase: we detail how these services work, break down essential technologies like SD-WAN (we’ll get there, don’t jump ahead!), and reveal how they can benefit your business without drowning you in tech speak or running you broke.
- Computer networking services are indispensable for business operations, enhancing productivity and facilitating seamless communication, data accessibility, and, arguably most importantly, Cybersecurity through various network components and services.
- Networking solutions and SD-WAN technologies play a pivotal role in optimizing network performance, increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and providing robust security features, with an emphasis on flexible and centralized network management.
- Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are critical for all businesses of all sizes, especially if they need a dedicated IT team. MSPs offer a complete range of services, including (but NOT limited to comprehensive network management and security; an MSP’s performance is most commonly evaluated based on written SLAs (Service Level Agreements), communication (lumped in with customer satisfaction – arguably the most important from a person to person perspective), and response times.
Understanding Computer Networking Services
Computer networking services at a fundamental level, these services merge an in-depth and up-to-date knowledge of computer network functionality, design architecture, and security (both Cybersecurity – which is concerned with protecting IT (network) equipment against attacks from the Internet (outside of your network). ‘Information security’ (Info Sec) – concerned with protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of IT-related information internally (inside of your network)- all of that merges together to provide the smooth operation of a business. These services work together to help devices share information and resources among employees and vendors, establish an essential communication infrastructure, and simplify file storage and organization for employees, thus maximizing productivity (a fancy way of saying make work more accessible, more stable, and safer).
With the evolution of technology, these services have:
- Improved reliability
- Enhanced productivity
- Enabled seamless communication and collaboration
- Ensured data accessibility and security
- Offered larger storage capacity
- Saved software costs
- Provided flexibility for many users
They essentially create the bedrock for a connected business world, facilitating ongoing, smooth, and uninterrupted access (spectrum, Verizon, and TDS service availability aside, mind you!), processing and sharing data, and boosting operational efficiency and reliability.
Types of Network Services
Network services encompass a wide-ranging field. Businesses can utilize a plethora (cornucopia – depending on your preference regarding syllable count) of services, including user management, email, printing, and system administration. Among these, communication services hold a significant position by powering global communication, revolutionizing interpersonal interaction, aiding in exchanging ideas and information and acting as a fundamental element for organizational operations.
Directory services are another essential aspect of computer networking. They function as a repository for usernames, passwords, and other pertinent data (who can go where and do what with whom type of thing), facilitating access to information about users, devices, resources, and enterprise/subscribers. Similarly, storage services, like cloud storage, utilize data servers connected to the Internet, allowing users to transmit files for storage and retrieval purposes.
Add to all that ‘application services,’ which essentially form a crucial interconnected pool of internal and external services businesses rely on to optimize, deploy, and manage applications.
Critical Components of a Robust Computer Network
Creating a robust computer network stems from carefully selecting and effectively configuring components. Nodes or network devices such as:
- Network Interface Cards (NICs)
All interconnected by a transmission medium (wired or wireless) form a resilient network’s backbone. Among these, modems – bring in the Internet and pass it off to the router. The router (which is kind of like a postmaster and a ninja warrior rolled into one) holds a significant position by first safeguarding the network against mainly external (internet) threats and second ensuring information from one piece of equipment winds up where it is supposed to be (so the night worker guy in shipping can not even see let alone get to the accounting computer if he is not supposed to) and are therefore crucial for configuring network performance. Switches and hubs, on the other hand, are there to speed things along between points or – to put it much techier sounding ‘facilitate data packet exchanges and enhance network utilization efficiency.’
Network servers and high-quality (routinely tested) network cabling are indispensable components. When configured and maintained correctly, servers efficiently manage and allocate network resources (printers, scanners, displays, etc.), provide a centralized storage location for files, streamline business operations, and host essential applications and services for the network’s functionality.
Network cabling (the arteries and veins, if you will, of a network) serves as the foundational support for cohesive functioning, seamless communication, and resource sharing, which are crucial for the effective operation of a computer network within a business environment (a fancy way of saying these are the pathways that get the info transferred from one place to another).
Enhancing Business Productivity with Networking Solutions
Businesses can tap into new productivity levels, interoperability, and mutual support by using suitable, properly configured, and maintained networking solutions. By implementing these solutions, companies can meet and often exceed productivity goals through the following specific advantages of network optimization for business operations:
- Improved reliability
- Increased predictability
- Better resource utilization
- Higher data rates
- Overall enhanced network performance
Network optimization is a strategic approach that augments a network system’s overall performance, security, and reliability. Finely tuning the network’s mechanisms ensures smooth and uninterrupted operations, effectively mitigating the risk of system downtime, significantly saving operational costs, and bolstering the user experience. With a well-optimized network, end users can enjoy faster, more secure, and more reliable connections, transforming their digital interactions and experiences.
To illustrate, let’s consider real-life case studies where networking solutions have resulted in substantial improvements. A local Northbrook, Illinois-based Power Broker (doing business across seven (7) different states) experienced a significant boost in speed and stability after Absolute Computer Systems optimized their network (both internal and external). Another example is a hospital here in Kenosha that experienced a similar boost to their network speed and stability – it was significant enough to create several enthusiastic comments from the staff and doctors during our most recent company security training meeting. These examples (and dozens of others I can recall) underscore the transformative impact that adequately designed and implemented networking solutions can and do have on business productivity and efficiency.
Network Performance Optimization
Optimizing network performance is a multi-faceted process involving several strategies. These include:
- Establishing baselines through network data collection
- Mapping network topology
- Evaluating VLANs and subnets
- Prioritizing wired connections
- Managing critical network traffic
- Monitoring bandwidth usage
- Implementing load balancing
- Prioritizing Quality of Service (QoS)
- Compressing payloads
- Considering technologies like SD-WAN
The network topology significantly influences performance by allowing administrators to identify potential bottlenecks, optimize network operations, and ensure reliable device communication. Network performance monitoring tools offer essential insights that can boost performance, maintain compliance with standards like Service Level Agreements (SLA), and assist in resolving networking issues.
Additionally, strategies for network performance optimization include:
- Network congestion management
- Upgrading network infrastructure
- Implementing error correction protocols
- Bandwidth allocation, the dynamic distribution of network bandwidth based on current conditions and demands
These strategies address throughput and latency issues, mitigating packet loss and improving network performance.
Data Security and Protection
As dependency on digital data increases, the significance of data security and protection in computer networking also escalates. Ensuring an organization’s data’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability is paramount to safeguarding sensitive data from cyber-attacks and upholding network trustworthiness. A variety of measures are employed to help ensure and assure data security and protection, including:
- Backup and recovery
- Access control
- Network security
- Physical security
- Network segmentation
- Remote access VPN
- Email security
Furthermore, network security safeguards against data loss by implementing data loss prevention solutions and fostering a robust organizational culture of data security.
The relationship between data protection regulations and computer networking is based on the necessity to regulate the unauthorized use of personal data, resulting in the establishment of international laws and regulations.
Wireless Networks: Expanding Connectivity and Flexibility
In a time when mobility is paramount, wireless networks offer many benefits. They include:
- Increased efficiency, access, and availability
- Cost savings
- Opening up new opportunities
They also facilitate improved mobility, enabling mobile users to access real-time information and move freely within the company’s premises, fostering a more dynamic and adaptable work environment.
Establishing a wireless network involves careful consideration of several factors. These considerations include:
- Guaranteeing adequate coverage and capacity for users and devices
- Tackling interference
- Managing power needs
- Securing the network
- Planning for indoor/outdoor access
- Determining the necessary number of access points
- Scalability and efficient network management
Implementing Secure Wireless Networks
While wireless networks offer numerous advantages, ensuring their security is crucial. Best practices for setting up a secure wireless network include:
- Changing default passwords to stronger, unique ones
- Restricting access to only authorized users
- Encrypting the data on your network
- Enabling two-factor authentication where possible
- Ensuring that all passwords used are robust.
Prevalent vulnerabilities of wireless networks encompass piggybacking, wardriving, evil twin attacks, wireless sniffing, and unauthorized computer access. Measures to address these vulnerabilities include:
- Using robust, unique passwords.
- Deactivating unused networking features.
- Refraining from broadcasting the SSID.
- Altering default passwords.
- Deploying security measures to thwart spoofing and rogue access point attacks.
Employing Wireless Protected Access (WPA) on a wireless network is another potent strategy to bolster security.
Managing Wireless Networks
Effectively managing wireless networks is as important as setting them up. Several tools that are essential for monitoring network performance include:
- SolarWinds NPM Wi-Fi Analyzer
- Datadog Network Monitoring
- PRTG Network Monitor
- Acrylic Wireless
When it comes to troubleshooting common issues in wireless networks, here are some steps you can take:
- Verify the device’s connection to the correct network.
- Ensure Wi-Fi is active.
- Restart the router.
- Update the router’s firmware to the latest version.
These steps can help resolve common wireless network issues.
Network management software is crucial in maintaining wireless networks by offering functionalities to manage, monitor, configure, analyze, and control different network components.
SD-WAN: Revolutionizing Network Infrastructure
The networking infrastructure landscape is witnessing a revolution brought about by advancements such as Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN). SD-WAN transforms network infrastructure by facilitating optimal utilization of network resources, prioritizing applications and traffic, and delivering improved agility, performance, and cost efficiency. Furthermore, SD-WAN offers strong security measures through encryption and VPNs, streamlines network management with a centralized dashboard, and facilitates faster and more dependable connectivity to cloud platforms.
SD-WAN’s impact extends to enhancing business efficiency and productivity through expense optimization, cost reduction, granular control of enterprise networking, clear visibility of connections and traffic performance, and support for bandwidth-intensive applications. Moreover, it enables companies to leverage cheaper broadband connections instead of costly MPLS lines, reducing ongoing network operating expenses and saving on transport services, hardware, and overall operating expenses while improving performance and security.
How SD-WAN Works
SD-WAN is a virtual WAN architecture that enables enterprises to:
- Utilize various transport services
- Employ software-defined networking principles to allocate network traffic across a wide area network
- Leverage a centralized control function to intelligently and securely manage traffic flow across the WAN
- Enable direct routing of traffic to trusted SaaS and IaaS providers.
The primary elements of SD-WAN include the Data Plane, Control Plane, Management Plane, and Orchestration Plane. Establishing an SD-WAN network entails meticulous planning and goal setting, determining hardware prerequisites, configuring SD-WAN, implementing firewalls, establishing link tags, configuring SD-WAN interfaces, and conducting thorough testing and optimization of the network.
Choosing the Right SD-WAN Solution
Selecting the right SD-WAN solution is crucial for maximizing its benefits. Businesses should evaluate their particular requirements concerning network performance, security features, and scalability and also consider their budget limitations to guarantee the selection of a solution that aligns with their distinct needs. The pricing of various SD-WAN solutions varies based on factors such as throughput, data consumption, and specific features and can range from £120 to over £800 per month.
Leading SD-WAN providers in the market today include:
- Fortinet Secure SD-WAN
- Prisma SD-WAN by Palo Alto Networks
- Versa Secure SD-WAN
- Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN
- Bigleaf Networks
- Cisco Meraki and SD-WAN powered by Viptela
- Juniper Networks
- Barracuda Networks
- Cato Networks
The Role of Managed Service Providers (MSPs) in Computer Networking
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are significant in providing information technology-related assistance to organizations deficient in internal capabilities for system maintenance. They deliver diverse services, such as network management, network security, and storage services, while also remotely overseeing a company’s IT infrastructure and end-user systems.
An exceptional MSP differentiates itself by offering:
- Advanced technical expertise
- Industry knowledge
- Employing advanced technology
- Taking a proactive approach
- Offering scalability and customization
- Providing reliable support
- Clear communication
These attributes empower them to deliver superior computer networking services and support.
Selecting an MSP
Assessing the technical proficiency of a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can be achieved by inquiring about the provider’s certifications, evaluating the training of their staff, and gaining insight into the specific technologies they focus on. Among the attributes to consider when selecting an MSP would be its local presence, its personalized approach, and the customized solutions it offers. Furthermore, a local MSP can deliver prompt onsite support, which is crucial for immediate technical assistance.
The cost plays a critical role in the selection of an MSP. It is essential to:
- Compare the services and costs of different providers.
- Consider the per-hour rate for services.
- Additionally, the location of the business can impact the total costs associated with engaging a managed service provider.
Evaluating MSP Performance
Service level agreements (SLAs) play a crucial role in evaluating MSP performance by:
- Assisting in managing expectations
- Offering precise outlines of priorities and resolution timelines
- Establishing escalation procedures
- Incorporating metrics for assessing the service provider’s performance
Customer satisfaction holds significant importance in the evaluation of managed service providers. Key performance indicators (KPIs) and customer feedback assess an MSP’s performance. Managed service providers utilize customer satisfaction ratings to gauge operational effectiveness, enhance offerings, and boost customer retention.
Uptime, availability, and response time are pivotal metrics in assessing an MSP’s performance. Customers and members of management within an MSP scrutinize these metrics. Uptime and availability gauge the reliability and accessibility of network services, while response time signifies the speed at which the MSP addresses customer requests.
To summarize, the world of computer networking services is vast and multifaceted; it incorporates a comprehensive understanding of network functionality, design architecture, and security measures, and these services are integral to the smooth operation of businesses. Every aspect plays a crucial role in shaping an interconnected business world, from enhancing network performance and ensuring data security to implementing secure wireless networks and selecting the right SD-WAN solution. So, whether you’re a startup or a multinational corporation, understanding and leveraging these services is critical to staying ahead in today’s digital era.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are computer network services?
Computer network services refer to the capabilities provided by servers, facilitating network operations and connecting users to applications and data in a network. Client-server or peer-to-peer architecture are the components of these services.
What are examples of computer networks?
Computer networks include LANs, WANs, MANs, SANs, PANs, WLANs, CANs, and VPNs. These are different types of networks that connect devices within a specific area or across the globe.
What is the best networking company?
The best networking company is Cisco, known for its innovative networking solutions and global presence in the market.
What are the foundational principles of computer networking services?
The foundational principles of computer networking services include understanding network functionality, network design architecture, and security measures. These form the essential groundwork for effective networking services.
How can networking solutions enhance business productivity?
Networking solutions can enhance business productivity by improving network performance, security, and reliability, which reduces downtime and operational costs (2024).