If you're primed for expansion in the office, it might be time to network your staff's workstations or to upgrade your network if you already have one.
The best way to find the right solution for your company is to hire a professional who can thoroughly assess both your present and future needs and the technology you already have running. Eric Cofield, a technology consultant in Houston, says the type of network you want and the hardware and software you need to run it depend on myriad variables; your choices may be determined by the number of machines you're connecting, the software you currently run, and the physical characteristics of your office space, among a host of other factors. Most remodelers will either need a peer-to-peer network or a server-client Local Area Network.
Peer-to-peer. The easiest and lowest cost solution is a peer-to-peer network: Your workstations connect to a central hub allowing each to print from the same printer, share files, and share a single Internet connection. Though relatively simple to create, peer-to-peer networks have capacity limits and are particularly vulnerable to data loss.
Server-client. Server-client networks cost more up-front (usually a minimum of $5,000), but this configuration improves drastically on the functionality and security of a peer-to-peer network. Using the server as a data-traffic controller, a network administrator (available on a paid by the hour, as-needed basis) can efficiently manage each workstation, creating individual preferences and security settings.
Eric Cofield, Brothers Strong's IT consultant, says few remodeling companies actually have a real need for wireless. The technology could be useful under certain conditions, but for the typical small office remodeler, Cofield says, wireless “is overkill.” Strong thinks his wire-free network will prove useful eventually, perhaps later this year when he adds more QuickBooks licenses.