Designing Networks for Midsize Businesses

    Midsize businesses are affected by many of the same network pain points as large enterprises. The networks at midsize businesses need to be flexible, reliable and easy to manage. Performance is an issue for midsize business networks, just as it is for larger enterprises.

    One of the challenges that midsize businesses face when building out a network infrastructure is they don’t have as many skills to apply to the task as a large enterprise. As this slideshow continues, we’re going to discuss some of the things that midsize businesses need to keep in mind as they build out a network for both wired and wireless devices.

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    Click through for factors, identified by HP, that midsize businesses need to keep in mind as they build out a network for both wired and wireless devices.

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    Though midsize businesses have many of the same pain points as large enterprises when it comes to building networks, there are also important differences between midsize and enterprise networks that can cause midsize businesses to fall into traps, says Mark Fabbi, Gartner VP and distinguished analyst. Midsize businesses find themselves in these traps when they blindly apply networking tools and technologies designed for larger enterprises.

    Midsize businesses can fall into the hype around networking technologies like Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) or storage and data network convergence. Many large enterprises have requirements like a three-tier network architecture that some midsize businesses feel they need to adopt, though Fabbi says a two-tier architecture will often meet midsize business requirements. Midsize businesses need to make sure they build their network to the appropriate scale.

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    Midsize businesses all face many of the same networking security threats as large enterprises, including the threats posed by the increase in the number of mobile devices. Gartner’s Mark Fabbi suggests that midsize businesses make sure they have a way to manage the increasing variety of access capabilities that are now available to employees who access the corporate network.

    Another network threat that midsize businesses need to consider is data protection and the protection of intellectual property. According to Fabbi, these issues are not yet on the radar of many midsize businesses, which poses a risk as they build out their network infrastructure.

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    Midsize businesses are rapidly adopting mobile technology to enable their employees to work effectively outside the office. Mobile presents quite possibly the biggest trend in midsize business networking. By 2013, the combined installed base of smartphones and browser-equipped enhanced phones will exceed 1.82 billion units, according to Gartner.

    Employees increasingly stay connected to the office remotely and rely on Wi-Fi, text messaging, smartphones, notebooks, iPads and cloud computing. In addition, they are increasingly incorporating social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn into their marketing plans and business models, according to a survey by The Business Journals.

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    As the workforce becomes increasingly mobile, midsize business networks need to support any number of devices – both wired and wireless. The best approach to reduce management complexity is to find a unified management platform that enables a single view of wired and wireless infrastructure for the network administrator to control. This approach can reduce complexity, improve availability, simplify security and device configuration and improve productivity.

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    The increasing demand for mobile LAN access and the higher bandwidth requirements of rich media and cloud services are more than many midsize business networks can handle. Poor user experience and a lack of scalability lead to disappointing results for many wireless LAN deployments.

    Wireless networking projects need to significantly enhance the bandwidth and coverage of wireless network connectivity. Today’s employees want to access applications and content from anywhere. That requires midsize businesses to deliver applications seamlessly from a virtual data center to a virtual workplace.

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    Whether wired or wireless, midsize business networks are typically less secure than their larger enterprise counterparts, a fact that isn’t lost on cyber criminals. Midsize businesses need to adopt a comprehensive approach to security that protects them from both internal and external threats.

    A simple firewall is no longer enough to stop today’s sophisticated threats. Instead, midsize businesses need to follow their enterprise counterparts and adopt a multi-layered, integrated security strategy that is centralized and protects the entire network, including mobile applications and identities, the cloud, virtualized data and applications and storage.

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    Gartner’s Mark Fabbi lists three trends that midsize businesses should bear in mind when building out network infrastructure. The first is the need to learn the specific requirements and capabilities of the network that needs to be built. Avoid falling for the hype and investing in technology that doesn’t fit. The second trend is the trend toward network simplification, thanks to standardization. Finally, Fabbi recommends that midsize businesses look for VARs and channel partners with broad knowledge and expertise, which can help midsize businesses avoid vendor lock-in.

    A midsize network that is designed well and built according to the requirements can extend the reach of a midsize business and make that company’s presence seem larger than it really is.

    Designing Networks for Midsize Businesses - slide 9

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