Setting Up an IT Infrastructure For Your Small Business: The 2020 Guide
Even though cloud technology is there to help businesses set up their entire infrastructure online, some companies prefer to set it up themselves. This is especially true for small businesses that don’t need a lot of equipment and don’t have the budget yet to opt for cloud services.
Nowadays, you cannot operate in the market before you meet at least some of the most basic IT needs. If you’re about to do it on-premises, you will undoubtedly need a solid enough IT infrastructure. The costs of setting everything up depends on your needs and the equipment you’re about to procure.
As mentioned before, small businesses usually don’t need much, so the costs won’t hurt their budget in any significant way. With that in mind, here are a few ways to set up an IT infrastructure for your small business in 2020.
Things to consider
Before you begin with setting up your IT infrastructure, there are a few things you should consider. First and foremost, you should decide whether or not you’ll set up an entire infrastructure on company grounds. This will help you create a budget for all your needs. Moreover, you should strongly consider outsourcing possibilities.
A lot of companies today combine on-premise hardware and cloud services for software needs. Last but not least, consider the space you have on-premise. Setting up an IT infrastructure requires space.
Even though modern hardware isn’t as nearly as bulky as hardware from a few years ago, it’s still important to have enough room to place everything accordingly. Furthermore, another thing to consider is the space itself. You have to ensure that proper conditions are met to support your hardware, such as proper electrical wiring, air conditioning, ventilation and so on.
When creating an IT infrastructure, you should aim for scalable, simple and cost-effective features. That way, you won’t have to replace everything when your business starts to grow and develop further. Instead, you can simply add or remove components for maximum efficiency.
Hardware is the foundation of your IT infrastructure. Obtaining proper hardware comes down to creating a shopping list of all the components that you’ll need. However, this doesn’t just include servers and server equipment but also computers and periphery that your employees will use.
After all, everything is connected in an IT infrastructure through a company network. What’s more, if you plan on using virtualization (using virtual servers instead of physical ones) to save space, you have to ensure that the server that will host everything has enough computing power to handle the load. Therefore, here’s a list of hardware requirements to consider:
- Servers and server racks – The amount of physical servers depends on whether or not you’ll opt for virtualization. Keep in mind that you might need a domain and domain controller, a DNS server, email server etc.
- Backup servers or a failover cluster – In case one server goes down, you have to have a backup server that will replace it to reduce latency and downtime.
- Physical storage and backup storage – This includes hard drives if you’re not going to use cloud storage. The amount of hard drives you’ll need depends on the data you store, and your storage will grow over time, which means you’ll need more drives eventually.
- User computers and periphery – This is pretty much self-explanatory: desktop computers, monitors and other stuff for the employees.
Hardware needs software so that your IT infrastructure can operate smoothly. Nowadays, software is pretty easy to obtain. You can always opt for a SaaS (Software as a Service) model in the cloud and use whatever software you need on any device.
That said, you no longer have to install the software manually on each device and have a unique copy of the software for each one. You simply subscribe to what you need and start using it. Here’s the possible list of software you’ll need.
- Operating systems – OS for servers and desktop computers.
- Employee needs – Software, such as Microsoft Office, so that employees can go about their everyday tasks.
- Business operations – CRM, project management, ERP and various other applications your business will need for its operations.
Network and security
As mentioned before, your IT infrastructure is connected through a company network. That said, your network consists of network enablement, internet access, security and firewall features. The important here is to have access to the Internet, as well as have remote access to printers and other devices, the ability to share files between computers and so on.
The first thing on the list is to choose a type of network you want. There are three network types: wired networks, wireless networks and hybrids. All have their advantages and disadvantages, so opt for the one that suits you the most.
For instance, wired networks are faster and more robust, but you need tons of cables to connect everything. On the other hand, wireless networks utilize Wi-Fi signals, so no cables are required, but such connections are generally slower and prone to interference. Therefore, your best bet is to go for a hybrid that utilizes both wired and wireless connection, which is ideal for a small business environment.
The next step is to secure everything. The first thing you want to do is to set up a firewall. Generic firewalls that come with your OS are usually not up for the task, so it’s better to opt for a more advanced firewall appliance that will protect your network from cyber attacks and data breaches. A good firewall can keep intruders at bay and protect your company’s sensitive data.
Moreover, you should consider adding additional cybersecurity software, such as antivirus, antimalware and others to add an extra layer of protection. These days, hackers are smart and capable, so it doesn’t hurt to protect your company’s network adequately.
Creating and setting up an IT infrastructure isn’t easy, but it’s not all that difficult either. You should always determine your needs before going forward. That way, you won’t waste any resources. What’s more, it wouldn’t hurt to consult with professionals, especially if it’s your first time setting up such an infrastructure.
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