When it comes to ethernet switches, what do you get for the extra money, besides more ports? You can buy a basic eight-port ethernet switch for connecting PCs together for well under $100, but data center versions with 24 ports or more can often cost well over $1000. Speed, network segmentation, power over Ethernet (PoE), quality of service (QoS) and management features are some of the more common extras. Here's what each of those features can do--and why you should spend extra for them.
1. More Speed
The original ethernet specification provided 10Mbps. Speeds have increased through the years, from 100Mbps to 1000Mbps or 1Gbps, and then all the way up to 100Gbps. It’s ideal to have the faster speeds for connecting servers and storage, or as a backbone to connect multiple switches to each other. For instance, if your PCs are connected at 1Gbps, then 10Gbps or 40Gpbs will be better for connecting multiple switches, or for connecting servers or storage that must support multiple client PCs at the same time.
Recent flooding in Thailand has affected many hard drive manufacturers, resulting in price hikes for hard drives of as much as 50 to 100 percent. How long this will last is unclear, but in the meantime, you can postpone new purchases of storage gear by implementing these methods to help reduce unnecessary files, reduce the space used on the system, and allow for expansion with existing systems.
1. Use Storage Management
Storage Management software is available in a wide variety of price ranges, from free open source packages, to expensive enterprise-class systems that continuously monitor storage and optimize usage. Of course, you can also simply search your drives manually for large files, MP3s, JPEGs, or PST files. The general idea is to identify possible files that aren’t needed or could be stored on other storage, like local PC hard disks, which often have lots of unused space.
A majority of respondents report at least some progress towards controlling the proliferation of mobile devices, or at least ensuring some security on devices allowed to connect to company networks. Yet, a large minority--33 percent--either have no policies yet or don’t control which devices are allowed on their networks.
Sixty percent of IT managers say they use wireless access points or network access control (NAC), or only allow mobile devices that they issue with pre-installed security and management tools. However, 26 percent haven’t developed policies for mobile devices yet, and 7 percent have policies but don’t actively enforce them.
First there were sewing-machine sized portable PCs, then laptops, the Newton, the Palm Pilot, and phones with built-in PDA functions. The iPhone led the way to the ubiquitous smartphone, and the iPad ushered in an era of tablets. Now wireless hotspots, printers, storage, and a variety of other devices are making their way onto your office network, possibly without the knowledge of managers.
These devices have the potential to compromise security, whether by introducing malware onto other devices on your network, or transporting company data outside the network. Fortunately, antivirus and encryption apps are available for all the major smartphone and tablet platforms, and most allow remote management.
First there were laptops, and then came PDAs, smartphones, tablets, netbooks, e-readers, and a host of other portable devices. Many gadgets first used in the home migrate to work, where users expect to connect them to the company network.
Unfortunately, while PCs or Macs are relatively simple to manage and secure, mobile devices can create a nightmare for the IT administrator. Each type of device requires a different antivirus client, and management options vary from one operating system to another, as well as from carrier to carrier.
You can include network access control systems to ensure that devices have minimum security software and settings before they can connect to your network; wireless access points to keep insecure devices on a separate network; and management systems that remotely wipe lost devices or enforce encryption standards.
Only 5 percent of respondents identifying as IT managers said they have an open Wi-Fi network without password protection. Thirty-nine percent put users and guests on separate networks, ensuring that visitors can’t access corporate assets, and another 12 percent use network access control to prevent insecure systems from connecting to the network. One-quarter password-protect the network before sharing it with visitors. Surprisingly, however, 17 percent said they don’t allow guest access at all.
It was also surprising that 10 percent of respondents to our poll for business managers reported having no Wi-Fi service at all. Half, however, said they were happy with their current configuration. A smaller yet significant group, 31 percent, said their Wi-Fi needs improvement.
Laptops used to be the only devices on the company's wireless network. But Wi-Fi has become a ubiquitous standard used by a host of devices--including desktop PCs, laptops, netbooks, tablets, smartphones, printers, storage devices, and projectors.
To determine whether you need to update or improve your Wi-Fi network, you need to know which new features are available for recent Wi-Fi devices, and how they can improve the services you provide.