Scaling Your Network In 2016

Scaling your network is the next step for most businesses. There are computer networks everywhere these days. From the business to our homes, local area networks and wireless systems are common and easy to create. What happens though when you want to connect 2 or more local area networks together? Well it gets really interesting then. Most organizations aspire to grow. When an organization or business grows they will need to connect remote offices. Connecting your lans together or just adding wireless in a wide area network is the natural evolution of scaling your infrastructure.
 
 
 
 

Scaling Your Network

The purpose of scaling your network is allowing it to grow. Rarely do networks need to remain their original size. Over time you need to add more devices, rooms of equipment, or possibly even another location. This applies to both homes and businesses so it is equally applicable.

scaling your network

 

You have hooked a few computers together through a switch. Then you added a router to get to the internet. So you have a nice shiny new network. This could be at home or a small business. What now? How do you make it even more useful? How do you get it to the size you need? These are all questions I hope to answer.

 

 

Scaling your Network : Budgeting

This is one of the key points. you just have to budget for updated equipment and software these days. Figure out what you can do and set it aside at some regular interval. Even if you do not use that money every interval at least let it grow so you can be saving for that new switch or backup router. You don't want your only router to go down and not have a replacement ready.

The same goes for software considerations. Occasionally everything just needs to be updated. Whether no one develops for it anymore or it just stops getting security patches, you need to be ready to move on if it does not meet your needs anymore. The only way to do this is to have a budget for a replacement when you get the idea it will need to be replaced soon.

 

Scaling Your Network : Understanding Its Characteristics

Understanding what your network consists of is key to planning for future growth and budgeting. You could have a small network with only a single server to multiple locations and a hundred servers. Whatever it is, you need to know what all is involved and a little bit of how it works.

 

Local Area Network

scaling your network

 

Local area networks are made up of switches, routers, cables, computers and information. Switches have less capabilities than routers but will send traffic to different areas. Routers are quite intelligent these days. Expanding your lan is the usual way you will start scaling your network to make it larger and more useful.

They are smart and will route traffic to different areas as well as decide what is the best route. They also will make sure your traffic gets through if part of your network goes down. Information, or data, is the key thing here.

Most people do not think about this at all. Your entire reason for having a network is the storage and manipulation of data. Your network is information. It does not matter whether you analyze spreadsheets all day, code your new cloud software or play games, you still have information that needs to move around on the network.

 
It does not matter the location either. Your network can be at home or the office or in another country. One local area network will at least be similar to another.  They will include workstations that people use to do things for fun or work.
 
A server may or may not actually be in a local area network like this. If it does, though, it will provide services like file storage or printing over the network.
 

Wide Area Network

 
So what is missing is something to link these local area networks together into a larger network which is called a wide area network. Connecting your lans together in a wide area network is what cities and large businesses do when they need to connect their offices and share data. Price and know how has always been the limiting factors here. Scaling your network at this level is not the easiest thing to do.
 
The price can be rather expensive. It is usually not for the home user. This is for large businesses or organizations with a lot of resources. The technical knowledge required to implement a solution like this is not for the average hobbyist either. It can get quite complicated. There are many technologies at play here and they all have their quirks. Getting them to work right is often times a pain.
 

Digital Routers

scaling your network
 
These are called digital routers. They link local area networks together. The following link is the kind of router I am talking about. As your computer must interface to the network, so must your network connect likewise to this special router that provides, of course, routing services for your local area network. These routers are more expensive than your usual home router. They are quite special and even many businesses will not use these.
 

Fixed Line Services

 
These days though, many people do not need to worry about all the details of how things work. They can still get the same services without worrying about the technicalities. The reason is that they can get and then pay for fixed lines that do the hard work for them. Many companies now offer this service. This is where they come out and install the infrastructure and then either you or them can manage things for you.
 
 

Scaling Your Network : Technologies Used In A Wan

If you have a larger network then you undoubtedly use 1 or more of the following technologies. Businesses often use a mix or older and newer technology. Since this is a more complicated routine than setting up a small house hold network, there are several technologies used to integrate everything together. Some of these are ATM, Frame Relay, SONET, and X.25. Some of these are very old but there are several companies that still use them. Communication using one of these protocols is essential in scaling your network in order for it to connect to other networks.

ATM

ATM stands for asynchronous transfer mode. It is one of the more current technologies and still used a lot by equipment.  It is a digital system unlike the old telephone system that was once used. Speeds obtained from ATM are limited mostly by the media and and your cash. Fiber optics will be your best media here.

The protocol used in ATM to get all this done is call cell switching. These are very tiny packets and are called cell switching. They are called this because the packets are so small. It is very fast too. It is able to reach speeds of 10 gbps.

 
Atm is characterized by its type of connections. There are point to point and point to multi-point connections. Point to point is when packets get broadcasted continually until they reach their destination. Point to multi-point is just what it sounds like. One node broadcasts several sets of packets to several  destinations at once.
 

SONET

This is the synchronous optical network.  It is used a lot these days for WAN connectivity and can also be used in digital technology since fiber is used with it extensively. Being very popular for very large areas, it is very versatile in what it can do. SONET can transfer and carry almost any kind of data.

X.25

 
X.25 is an old but still sometimes used technology for packet switching. It is analog and kind of slow by today's standards. It is consistent and reliable though which was one of its better features. Also it was used mainly for simple devices that did not need much speed.
 

Frame Relay

This technology is like X.25 but is digital. It is still used but near as much as it used to be.  Being faster than X.25 though  makes it a great alternative. Performance in your usual environment makes good use of your existing bandwidth.

 

Scaling Your Network : Choosing Vendors

The equipment and software that you buy on a regular basis is vital to your success. If you buy hard drives because they are cheap then either your customers or your staff will be disappointed. That will not be good for your business. Stability is very important in this regard. Use a quality vendor that sells solid infrastructure.

You also want a vendor that is just a little larger than you are. That is the best recipe for your business. The reason why is that they will be close enough in size to understand what you need. However, since they are a bit larger than you, you can take advantage of their better pricing.

Increasing Your Storage

Sometimes to grow your network you will need to first increase your storage capabilities. This can happen in many ways and no two situations are identical. This means that you will need to evaluate what makes sense for your situation and budget. Adding some direct attached storage is an easy and quick way if you have a very small network. Choosing network attached storage is the next step and is typical of a large home network or still a small business setting. A SAN(storage area network) is popular for businesses that can afford them. Don't fall into the trap of getting more than you need even if you can afford it. You should only get the technology that makes sense for you. For example, getting a SAN dramatically increases the complexity of your storage and is a lot more expensive than plain network attached storage. I am just saying be careful is all.

Conclusion

 
Connecting your lans together in a wide area network has many advantages. It can bring together your remote offices, simplify your software needs and centralize your main server infrastructure. Implementing a Wan or any of its technologies is very expensive and complicated though. That is usually why only large organizations or large businesses do this at all. The newer Cloud technologies aim to improve this by making things steadily cheaper. Hopefully it will succeed in doing that.

This article was updated on November 29, 2019