A network connects computers, cell phones, peripherals and even Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Through switches, routers and wireless access points, the networking basics, devices connected to your network can communicate with one another and other networks, like the internet.
Switches, routers and wireless access points each function differently in a network.
Switches are the basis of most business networks. They act as controllers, connecting computers, printers and servers to a network in a building. Switches let devices on your network communicate with each other, as well as with other networks, so you have a network of shared resources.
Switches save money and increase productivity through the sharing of information. The two basic types of switches to choose from are:
- An unmanaged switch that works out of the box but can’t be configured
- A managed switch that can be formatted. You can monitor and adjust a managed switch either locally or remotely. This give you better control over network access and traffic.
Routers connect many networks together, as well as connecting computers on those networks to the internet. Routers enable companies to save money by enabling all networked computers to share a single internet connection.
A router acts as a dispatcher by analyzing data being sent across a network and choosing the best route for the data to travel. Routers connect your business to the world, protect information from security threats and even decide which computers should receive precedence over others.
Routers also come with additional features, beyond basic networking functions, to make networking easier and more secure. For example, depending on your needs, you can choose a router with a firewall, a virtual private network (VPN) or an Internet Protocol (IP) communications system.
An access point allows devices to connect to a wireless network without cables. This makes it easy to bring new devices online and provides flexible support to employees working on mobile devices.
An access point works like an amplifier for your network. A router provides the bandwidth and an access point extends that bandwidth so that the network can support many devices. Supported devices can then access the network from farther away.
Further, an access point can do more than just extend Wi-Fi. It can also provide useful data about the devices on the network and provide proactive security, as well as performing many other practical functions.
There are different types of deployment you can use to create a wireless network, each one with its own attributes that work better depending on the situation.
- Centralized deployment is the most common type of wireless network system. It is traditionally used where buildings and networks are close together.
- Converged deployment is for branch offices or small campuses. It converges wired and wireless on one network device and offers consistency in wireless and wired connections.
- Cloud-based deployment uses the cloud to manage network devices deployed on-premises at different locations.