Small Business Network Solution

Would like some help in selection of Network hardware, Router and WiFi Access Point, for a small business.

Here are some outlines of the devices at the business:

  • Static IP
  • One Server - Windows Server 2012 Essentials
  • Three Workstations all running on Windows OS
  • Two NAS
  • One Multi-function Printer/Scanner/Copier
  • For WiFi Access assume devices such as mobile phones and iPads - perhaps total of 6 devices

As mentioned earlier, we are looking for robust Router and WiFi access point with a good range and all within fair budget considering that this only a Small Business.
Who is Participating?
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
I would absolutely go with SonicWall.  

Your comment, "fair budget considering that this only a Small Business" is a bit tough to determine... because many small businesses do in excess of a million dollars a year in revenue.  Even if they do a lot less than that, can they take the chance of losing most all of it due to hacks or a virus?

SonicWall with Gateway Security Suite will run them about $750 for the base model and 3 years of security service.  With this in place, you can be assured that their network is secure and data safe.  As long as I put a SonicWall in with the GSS, I don't put AV on the server.  (ensuring that all workstations have AV and all Windows Firewalls are enabled).  Which makes the server run much better as a benefit.

While that may sound like a lot, you're talking about $250.00 per year to ensure that their electronic data is secure (and usually if a company loses this, they lose everything).

What's more important is that SonicWalls are easy to configure -- because if its not configured, it won't protect -- which is why I think the Cisco's are the wrong solution for small businesses -- most people don't know how to configure them correctly.  WatchGuard's are also difficult to configure if you don't have experience with them.

As for wireless access?  If the office is small, you can just get a Wireless SonicWall model which will provide sufficient range for most small environments.
Brian PringleSystems Analyst II, SCM, ERPCommented:
The biggest thing is to check the range and speed of the processor.  Also, check reliability and consumer ratings.  I like the Cisco small business routers.  They are fairly inexpensive, are easy to configure, and have been very reliable.

One suggestion would be to purchase a spare so that if the first one goes down, there is another one that is already configured and all they have to do is plug it in.
Brian PringleSystems Analyst II, SCM, ERPCommented:
You will probably also need a network switch if you have more than 4 wired devices.  I suggest the Netgear gigabit switches.  Plug all of the devices directly into the switch and then plug the switch into the router so that the router is not handling all the internal network traffic, which will free it up to only have to handle external traffic.
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Jesse BruffettM&F-ing SorcererCommented:
Here's my 2 cents: first for a small business Router = hardware firewall, id recommend the entry level Sonicwall, i thing is now a tz300. They are great for small businesses. reasonably priced and relatively simple to setup. Depending on your budget you could go with Sonicwall SonicPoints, they are manageable from the sonic wall itself which is nice. If thats out of your price range a Linksys AE6500 is reasonably priced and easy to setup. As for switches id recommend a 24 port switch if you ever have any desire to grow. I would always rather get more than i need and not use it than get less and wish i had more. The cisco I'm listing a link for below is a bit pricy but I've installed alot of them and never has any issues with them.

Gareth Tomlinson CISSPNetwork and Security ManagerCommented:
Fortinet make an excellent range of devices, most of which incorporate the ability to control and manage wifi access points, or have built in wifi access points. They also can provide web filtering, antivirus and anti-malware and IDS/IPS all in one box. Watch the licensing costs, though, they are annual subscriptions for updates, but they don't stop working if the license expires, they just don't update.
Their range includes devices with multiple switch ports for internal users, and is very easy to set up.
esabetAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for your contributions.  I have done some research on my own based on your recommendations and it appears that Dell SonicWALL is among one of the better choices for our use.

Though at first I was considering the entry level TZ300, I realized that I would have to buy a separate switch to accommodate all the  wired devices.  So I am now considering to purchase the TZ500 which will accommodate all the current wired devices and if in future we need to expand and connect more devices then we can purchase a separate LAN switch. Would this be a good approach?

Also, they do make a wireless edition of the TZ500 which is a nice option in consolidating all we need into one package but do want to make certain it will be sufficient for our needs.  

First, we have about 6 wireless devices that may connect simultaneously. These are Mobile Phones, Laptop PCs, iPads and etc..  Second, the conference room in this particular office space is about 200 feet away from where the SonicWALL will be installed. (This is a shared office space with a shared conference room that is about 6 or 7 office "rooms" away from where the SonicWALL will be installed).  So the question is if the SonicWALL builtin Access Point will have sufficient range and bandwidth/speed?
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
Considering that you can buy a quality 8-port Gigabit Switch for less than $50.00, it hardly makes sense to spend hundreds more to go with the TZ-500 if the only reason is you need more ports.

The TZ-300 is fully capable of handling all that you list.  If the distance is a problem, you can always add a range booster of some kind.  The WiFi radio on the TZ-500 won't really give you any more range than that of the TZ-300.

A TZ-300 works just fine in offices that have 25 to 30 devices connected, and you seem like you are a long way off from exceeding that mark, so that's where I'd stick for now.
esabetAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the insight, TZ300 it is. Given that, can you make some recommendations for a decent Switch and possibly a booster in case we need one?
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
You should be able to pick up a Cisco SG110D-08 Unmanaged 8-port switch for about $50.

As for WiFi Booster it really depends on the environment you are dealing with.  Usually your best bet is one that plugs into power outlets, but if the building's power isn't all on the same circuit that won't work.

Since the actual building can cause unique problems, its usually best to just get something and try it out and if it works then great, if it doesn't return it and try something else.
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