According to a study by Forbes in 2022, 99.9% of the businesses across the US are small businesses. There are 33.2 million small businesses across America. Although the largest business corporations are in the news, the small businesses form the backbone of the US economy and they may continue to lead in the future, too. Setting up connectivity and efficient communication is important for these small businesses to operate efficiently. This may seem easy for many, but there are several things to consider. First, the knowledge of networking and the use of the right equipment is essential to set up a network. This post guides you through the SOHO network, important equipment required to set up this network, and steps for installation.
Get Introduced to a SOHO Network
SOHO is an acronym for Small Office/Home Office and it may feature between 1 to 10 people. A regular SOHO network may feature a combination of wireless and wired computers or a small wired Ethernet LAN. In short, it provides the infrastructure to have reliable connectivity and communicate efficiently. It allows users to collaborate on the projects using shared devices like printers as well as access shared data within the confines of their small office home office environment.
How Does a SOHO Network Differs from an Enterprise Network?
A SOHO network differs form an enterprise network in many ways; the below given pointers will help you understand it better.
- Scale of Operation: An enterprise network is designed to cater to the needs of large organizations comprising hundreds or thousands of employees working across multiple departments. However, SOHO network is designed for small scale operation in an organization comprising 5-10 employees, and the scope of its utilization may be limited.
- Cost of Operation: Enterprise networks require servers, high-end networking equipment, and dedicated IT resources, which increases the cost of operation. Adding to these is the cost of maintenance to keep these devices and resources functioning. Contrary to these, SOHO networks are easy to set up and have fewer maintenance needs.
- Level of Complexity: Security concerns are common to both enterprise and SOHO networks, but the vulnerabilities are high for enterprise ones. As a result, advanced security measures are implemented to cater to the needs of these organizations. In addition to these, multiple subnets and intricate configurations may also be involved to boost operational efficiencies in enterprises. All these add to the level of networking complexity in these organizations. However, SOHO networks are easy to operate as there are fewer devices and people than the former. Sometimes security measures are the only major investment in these networks.
Essential Equipment Needed to Set Up a SOHO Network
Although featuring simpler layout than enterprise networks, you will need several pieces of equipment to set up a SOHO network. This section offers insights of some essential equipment required to set up these networks.
- Routers: A router helps connect devices in a network to the Internet, thereby allowing people working in Small Office Home Offices to collaborate with each other effectively. As said before, the security needs of SOHO may differ from enterprises, still, it is better to choose a router with basic security measures such as encryption, firewall protection, and authentication. In addition, it is also important to ensure that the router offers sufficient coverage and reliable performance.
- Ethernet Switches: They help create wired connections between the devices in the network. Ethernet switches come with usually 4 to 8 ports that help connect other wired devices, such as printers, desktop computers, and more. When choosing these switches, focus on features like the number of ports, speed of data transfer, managed or unmanaged type, form factor, and so on.
- Ethernet Media Converters: These devices play a crucial role in SOHO networks by ensuring flexibility and seamless interconnections. They help connect structured copper-based cabling systems with advanced fiber optic systems. Media converters are available in different designs from simple standalone devices to high port density chassis systems. There are certain factors to consider when buying them for your SOHO network. They include multimode or single mode fiber conversion, speed, operating conditions, power and connectivity, security and monitoring requirements, copper-to-fiber and fiber-to-fiber conversion, or both.
- Modems: These devices facilitate the connection between the network and the internet, allowing access to services and online resources. When buying a modem, ensure to check its compatibility with your internet service provider (ISP).
- Adapter Cards: They facilitate communication between the computer and other devices in the network. Each computer in the network needs an adapter card for connection.
- Wireless Network Interface Cards (NICs): A wireless network interface card (NIC) helps establish wireless connectivity within the network. This card assures great mobility and flexibility when devices connect with each other wirelessly in the network. It is always better to invest in NIC that is compatible with the wireless standards supported by the routers in the network.
Things to Keep in Mind When Setting up a SOHO Network
Although Small Office Home Office (SOHO) networks have simpler layouts than enterprise networks, setting them require immense consideration. The following pointers will be helpful in this context.
- Factors such as available space, interference from other electronic devices, and temperature fluctuations are known to affect the performance of the network. These limitations can be easily addressed by conducting thorough analysis of the available space, proposed positioning of the devices, their response to environmental factors, and so on.
- Next, you analyze the need for networking equipment like media converters or Ethernet switches required as per the layout. Consider the features and specifications of these devices and ensure they meet the infrastructure requirements and the intended usage. For instance, when choosing Ethernet switches, you must focus on factors such as their PoE capabilities, port speeds, management features, and so on. Ensure the equipment that you choose support scalability and can handle the future expansions.
- In addition to this, focus on the hardware of these equipment. They must be compatible with the specific environmental conditions of your SOHO space. This would help ensure their consistent performance and uninterrupted network operations.
- Compatibility issues can be a big concern when setting up a SOHO network. If not addressed properly, it may lead to performance degradation, connectivity issues, and operational inefficiencies. To avoid such complications, business owners must pay close attention to the compatibility of networking equipment, software, and devices to ensure seamless integration and interoperability within the network infrastructure.
Addressing the above factors would help business owners make informed decisions when designing or implementing the network.
Setting up a Small Office Home Office (SOHO) network isn’t a challenging task if you understand its basics, need for the equipment, layout intricacies, and other factors. Now that you have a basic idea of setting up a SOHO network, it's time to take action. If you have already made a layout, start by selecting the right equipment for your needs and following the step-by-step guide outlined in this post. VERSITRON provides one of the largest collections of fiber optic equipment necessary to set up your SOHO network. You can choose from multiple models of Ethernet switches, media converters, Micromodems, and many more. For details, you can visit www.versitron.com and go through the information on various fiber optic network devices. Let’s assure you that with a little effort and planning, you can get a reliable and efficient network to support your home office activities!