Eight New Tech Products for Small- and Medium-sized Businesses
Checkout the latest tech for small and medium-sized business.
I wrote earlier this year on the topic of why Ethernet is still relevant in business. While WLAN definitely has its appeal where convenience and ease of deployment are concerned, there are many scenarios in which a wired network would make more sense. Before rushing out to grab the cheapest Layer 2 network switch, IT managers should be made aware of the more advanced capabilities found in business-centric networking gear.
I highlight some of the more pertinent ones below.
While an 8-port Fast Ethernet switch should logically yield 1.6Gbps (duplex) of throughput, do check for the published throughput instead of assuming it to be the case. Indeed, this is an area where companies opting for a cheaper, consumer-centric model need to exercise additional caution. A lower switching throughput could result in some nodes suffering from speed degradation when all connected workstations are simultaneously using the network and could cause slowdowns for companies-such as design houses or architectural firms-that regularly work with large files.
PoE or Power over Ethernet entails passing electrical power along with data using the same Ethernet cabling and is an extremely useful capability for deploying IP phones, IP cameras or wireless access points. Of course, midspan injectors can be deployed with a non-PoE switch to achieve the same effect, though businesses with limited rack space will probably favor network switches with built-in PoE. There are two standards in this regard, IEEE 802.3af and IEEE 802.3at, with the lower-power 802.3af standard being the most widely-used.
Called slightly different names depending on the vendor, the presence of an expansion port usually allows a network switch to be upgraded to a higher-speed uplink (1Gbps or 10Gbps). Some network vendors also sell fiber optic transceiver modules that are plugged into expansion ports to expand the network beyond the standard 100 meters afforded by copper Ethernet cables.
Finally, the ability to perform port mirroring allows administrators to monitor network traffic without leaving a trail. This is usually achieved using specialized network monitoring or security appliances, or by connecting a workstation in promiscuous mode in order to capture all traffic for future analysis.
As always, I must reiterate that the exact capabilities required by individual SMBs must depend on their specific requirements and network architectures-the various capabilities highlighted above are certainly not representative of what every SMB requires. Having said that, you are very much welcome to chip in on features that you feel are important in the comments section below.