Every network is unique, because every business is unique. Network engineers work to streamline the way your phones, computers, servers, and other business technology connect with each other and with your service provider. Network engineering is largely a customization process; the IT needs of a large medical facility differ from those of a small law firm, and the way their networks look and function needs to suit those differences.
At Digital Agent, our network engineering team brings decades of experience to their work with businesses of all sizes, in a wide variety of industries. Our engineers know their networks, and they get results; our network engineering services can help businesses save tens of thousands of dollars annually on operational expenses. Three of our engineers were kind enough to share their expertise and explain how they approach developing a new or existing network.
Your network engineer will use different tools to gather information about every node and endpoint in your network. These tools can be used to build reports on the network and its potential problems. A visual inspection is important too, since this helps an engineer understand the physical layout of the network and if there are any issues with power supply, bad wiring, or outdated hardware.
I like to gather a combination of implicit and explicit information to form a complete picture of an existing network. Explicit information would include a list of their current devices—like firewalls, routers, switches, servers, and workstations—along with a basic understanding of how everything is connected. Implicit clues can be gathered by asking the customer how their network is used on a daily basis—for instance, “What specialized applications do you use?” or “Are there any external servers or cloud storage you connect to?”
Upgrade Your Business IT
A lot goes into upgrading an existing network or creating a new network to best suit your business needs. The physical wiring, like how many Ethernet ports there are and where, is often taken for granted even though it provides the infrastructure for the network. The Core Network Switch is the most important part of the physical network since it determines how many physical connections there can be to the network, how fast data can travel along those connections, and more.
Networks typically have two trade-offs that need to be considered based on a business’s unique needs: budget versus reliability, and ease-of-use versus security.
As Stephen puts it, “Customers want as few obstacles as possible between them and their work, but our job is to make sure their business is secure against external threats, which often means adding a few barriers to entry.”
Since so many networks already exist, we don’t build that many from scratch. We are usually adding on to an existing network or improving an existing network. Many of the same considerations are at play when designing, adding to or improving a network. I like to streamline the hardware on the network to reduce potential points of failures. The biggest challenge over the last several years has been establishing WiFi coverage throughout the building with adequate speeds for WiFi devices. Most existing networks lack adequate WiFi coverage or the existing coverage is never optimized for proper coverage.
VP of Engineering
At this point, our network engineers have seen it all. Some of the hardest problems to solve come from either a lack of documentation or poor quality control when the network was initially built. This makes it far more time consuming for our engineers to assess the network properly and is often why the network isn’t running efficiently in the first place.
Another common challenge is dealing with elements of the network that aren’t managed by Digital Agent.
“We may only control your phone and your phone server, so if you start having audio problems, it may be very difficult for us to pinpoint the exact source of the disturbance,” Stephen explains. “We’ll have to work with your third-party IT provider, which comes with varying degrees of success. Our jobs get much easier when Digital Agent manages every aspect of the network, as we can quickly find the problem wherever it is and come up with a solution.”
Senior Install Engineer
The biggest problem is when there is more than one issue at a time. This can cause conflicting results when troubleshooting and can undermine logical troubleshooting steps. For obvious reasons, this can cause major delays in the process.
You may think you are already operating at top efficiency, but you will always be limited by the speed and reliability of your technology and the network on which it operates. Whether you are expanding your business and your network or simply want to optimize, you want an experienced network engineer on your side. Contact your Digital Agent and let us boost your network.
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