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Getting switched on: Network transformation

Growing businesses need to make sure their data network grows in tandem with employee devices.

Many small businesses are trying to expand the capacity of their existing networking setups as they modernize and transform. Under normal circumstances, small business networking is difficult, but the COVID-19 pandemic is putting a fresh strain on businesses that lack the necessary IT resources.

No matter how great and powerful your PCs and servers may be, network bottlenecks – where data flow is restricted due to a lack of compute or bandwidth resources – can threaten business performance and put revenue at risk.

Causes of bottleneck

The most common problems associated with bandwidth include:

 ·         Bandwidth hogs: Some systems or applications on the network may be monopolizing bandwidth by downloading or uploading huge amounts of data, or perhaps streaming media (common in home office settings). If all applications share the network connection equally, a critical video conference could be derailed by someone in the next room watching Netflix.

·         Too many devices: If yours is a small business that has grown in number of employees, you may have more devices than your network segment was designed to support.

·         Overloaded servers: A common source of network performance problems is servers that are running too many critical workloads at once. If you're trying to run email, file sharing, company intranet, SQL Server, and accounting software on a single server, resource conflicts will slow performance.

·         Wrong or misconfigured network switch: If a switch is not capable of parsing a fast internet connection, it will slow performance across the board.

For a small business with limited IT resources, trying to figure out what the problem is can be time-consuming and difficult. However, if you build a network with the right products, even the most difficult bottlenecks can be resolved.

Make the switch

Newer-model switches have intelligent features can help small businesses tackle the new pressures – like remote working and digital transformation – facing their networks. 

Network switches (such as the Dell EMC PowerSwitch family) connect to the router through one of the router's ports, thereby increasing the number of devices in your small office network that have a wired connection to the internet. Having the right switches can increase productivity while also providing secure access to a broad range of devices, including laptops, smartphones, tablets, printers, and so on. Many have built-in firewalls for malware scanning and traffic filtering, as well. 

The current shift to cloud-based applications requires virtual 'switches,' too. Software-defined networks run virtual network functions (VNFs), including firewalls, controllers, WAN optimizers, and network assurance software – all of which help optimize bandwidth and prioritize business traffic.

The best strategy would be to find a unified solution that covers on-premises networking, remote connections, and cloud interfaces. This is where Dell's Virtual Edge Platform comes in. VEP combines Intel-powered Dell hardware, global services, and support with software solutions to drive current use cases and future requirements.

VEP may be deployed in a range of business locations. The systems are optimized for virtual network environments and include:

·         Dell EMC Virtual Edge Platform 4600 – ideal for high-performance requirements.

·         Dell EMC Virtual Edge Platform 1405 – better-suited for smaller locations that are space and/or power constrained.

Dell VEP solutions include Intel QuickAssist Technology, which helps accelerate encryption and compression and efficiently scale security workloads. In other words, they keep data protected without impacting the speed and efficiency of data transfers. It is important to note that all of the above platforms use the same Intel x86 instruction sets, so they're addressable and manageable using the same IT management tools as other infrastructure elements.

There's no question that networking can get confusing for the lay leader, especially when a business is expanding to remote offices and the cloud. Reach out to a Dell Small Business Advisor to find out how Dell Technologies can get your data moving securely and quickly across physical and virtual planes.