SMB IT Setup: Infrastructure Setup for Small & Medium Businesses

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IT Infrastructure SMB Office Setup
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Businesses rely on their IT infrastructure setup to simplify employee communication, manage customer relationships, and boost workplace productivity.

A company’s technical infrastructure is at the heart of its business, influencing productivity and costs and providing a fantastic opportunity to distinguish itself from the competition.

A strong infrastructure is also essential for reducing costs and accelerating development.

Determining IT Infrastructure Needs of Your Business

Even though the IT infrastructure setup of every business has some elements in common, each organization has very different needs. Consequently, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that every business can use.

When determining the IT needs of your business, you need to first identify what IT, if any, your business has. This requires looking at how your employees use the existing technology. After this, you can start planning an infrastructure.

A custom IT infrastructure supports how your employees working methods, making it as easy as possible for them to do their daily tasks, and communicate with customers and one another.

Common Business IT Infrastructure Components

Every business needs a few essential parts of its infrastructure. Even though every business has differing needs, you will need to consider the following elements when setting up the IT infrastructure for your business.

  • Computers: Every business needs computers and other hardware to set up its IT infrastructure. But a business does not necessarily need to have all the hardware it needs in-house anymore.

Instead, employees can access cloud computing services and data storage facilities through computer terminals.

  • Shared Storage: Every business needs a way for employees to share files and work on important projects together quickly. Many companies today use cloud-based solutions to make it easier to share files.
  • Productivity Tools: With cloud computing, services like servers, file storage, networking, analytics, and software are delivered over the Internet. Cloud computing providers charge businesses based on the resources they use.

This lowers the costs they have to pay upfront and helps them spread the cost of their IT needs.

  • Business Phones (VoIP): Voice over IP (VoIP) technology is a cost-efficient business phone solution. With this technology, you can use your Internet connection instead of a regular phone system to make voice and video calls.

Building an IT Infrastructure Setup for your Businesses

With any business, there are a few IT infrastructure essentials that should be prioritized above all else.

Hardware

You won’t have much infrastructure if you don’t have any hardware. However, a good hardware setup is much more than choosing between Apple and Windows.

Identifying your hardware requirements is vital to ensure a solid foundation for your IT infrastructure setup. These can include laptops, desktops, servers, and printers.

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Working without a server is fine for businesses with a few computing devices. This has been helped by cloud SaaS applications that typically include collaborative features, allowing multiple users to work on and store documents simultaneously.

Nowadays, cloud computing offers many businesses, particularly small businesses and startups, a cost-effective way to set up a comprehensive infrastructure. To leverage such features, the internet-connected business laptop will typically suffice.

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Internet Service

Even if you have the best ISP and internet package, ISPs sometimes go down. Our businesses depend on the internet so much that even a few minutes without it can cause huge problems. Sign up for a second ISP to protect yourself from these issues.

This will give you peace of mind and, more importantly, ensure your business services stay up and running even if your primary ISP goes down.

Having two Internet connections doesn’t have to be expensive. You can choose a lower-tier plan from a different ISP and keep your main plan from the more reliable ISP. Managing two various Internet service providers (ISPs) and packages can be challenging, especially if you have never done it before.

RELATED: Business Broadband – Choosing the best internet service for your business

Networking and WiFi

We recommend a wireless network for most small and medium-sized businesses. Running cables is expensive and takes much time for large wired networks.

RELATED: Understanding Wireless Networks: A simple guide for business

It is especially inefficient for companies to grow quickly and move to bigger offices. They will have to redo the wiring every time they move the office.

Wireless networks are:

  • Cost-effective
  • Easy to set up and access
  • Faster and easier to scale, and
  • Provide flexibility for employees

RELATED: Extending your Wireless Network for the best coverage

Productivity Apps

It can be hard to decide whether Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) or Google Workspace (formerly G Suite) is the best set of productivity apps for your business.

Since cloud-based applications are the norm, we will only look at SaaS platforms. You can make documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in the cloud with Office 365 and G Suite. They also have ways to share and work together. Aside from that, they also offer cloud storage, syncing, and video conferencing.

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These SaaS platforms are always online and can be accessed from anywhere and on any device. Your employees will be more mobile and productive if they can easily share and work together.

Google Workspace (G Suite) vs. Microsoft 365 (Office 365)

Even though the cloud is available, many businesses still like to create, edit, and share files on their computers. In these situations, you need desktop apps, and Office 365 is the default.

On the other hand, G Suite is the best choice if your business cares more about cloud storage, easy collaboration, and mobility. You can also get branded business emails with G Suite, which is friendly for small businesses.

From an IT resources point of view, it costs a lot more to set up and manage Office 365. It also takes more work to support Office 365 than G Suite. So, just based on the cost of running it, G Suite is better for small to medium businesses.

RELATED: Microsoft Office 365 vs. Google Workspace: Which Office Productivity Suite is Better for Your Business?

Video Conferencing

Web meetings, webinars, and video conferencing are now a must-have for all businesses in the 21st century. Web conferencing technologies make collaborating much easier, whether you operate a small local business or a global enterprise.

Zoom is ideal if your meetings are interactive or you run virtual classes or webinars. Google Meets will work fine if your virtual meetings are just interviews, weekly standups, and one-on-one chats.

We’ll look at the two most popular conference room technologies, Zoom and Google Meets, out of the many out there.

Zoom

Zoom is simple video conferencing software. It combines video conferencing, online meetings, webinars, and online group interactions. Zoom is built for enterprises with remote workers and worldwide clients.

Zoom’s features and capabilities enable big, interactive virtual gatherings. Zoom is excellent for firms that use webinars and online collaboration.

Google Meets

Google Meets is a more straightforward solution for less interactive meetings, discussions, and interviews. Its features are remarkable. Integration with G Suite is vital. One-click meeting join is a significant plus.

This simple tool increases staff participation, and email reminders guarantee they’re well-prepared.

RELATED: Top 5 cloud video conferencing platforms for SMEs

VoIP vs. Traditional telephone line

Features and integrations make VoIP most useful for small and medium-sized businesses. VoIP has many extra features that make your business run more smoothly and give it a more professional look. VoIP is a lot better than the old phone system in many ways. Here are a few examples:

  • Huge savings on phone calls: VoIP can save you up to 40% on local calls and up to 90% on international calls.
  • It’s easy to add phone lines for new hires—all it takes is a few clicks. Getting rid of the lines is just as easy.
  • Better call quality: The call quality on VoIP phones is much better. So you can say goodbye to broken lines, audio that only goes in one direction, humming or buzzing, and other communication problems.
  • Flexible network layouts: You won’t run extra wires for your phone because you can use the Ethernet cable you already have or your WiFi network.

Understanding Industry-specific IT Infrastructure Requirements

Even though there are many IT infrastructure products on the market, the exact needs of each business are different and depend a lot on the industry they are in. Here is a list of various industries and the IT infrastructure they need.

  • IT Industry: A software company’s IT infrastructure will be more advanced than a manufacturing company’s. Businesses that make software usually need computers with suitable operating systems, a way to connect to the internet, and specific tools to compile and test software.

Network-related businesses need to put more money into setting up their IT infrastructure.

  • Manufacturing Industry: Most manufacturing companies have five layers of IT infrastructure. The first layer comprises the control systems you use to run the machines that make the product. The second layer typically includes Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, which you will need to monitor and control.

The third layer comprises the software you need to use, Computer-Aided Design (CAD), to manage product development and later to buy, ship, and track those products. The software and hardware that move data from the plant to the office, where it is processed, analyzed, and shared, are on the fourth level.

On the last layer, some optional but recommended software products, like CRM, ERP, HRM, and analytics software, that most companies need to use, no matter their industr

  • Marketing And Advertising Industry: Media businesses will need computers with design software, a graphics tablet, an internet connection, and SaaS tools. Graphic designers can choose from software that costs money or free software. They might also need online storage tools called “document managers” to make it easy for teams to share files.

Media businesses will need computers with design software, a graphics tablet, an internet connection, and SaaS tools. Graphic designers can choose from software that costs money or free software. They might also need online storage tools called “document managers” to make it easy for teams to share files.

  • Retail: you’ll need Point-of-Sale (PoS) systems and inventory management software if you have a storefront.

E-Commerce platforms are also required for retail businesses to sell their goods on the Internet. Another standard IT infrastructure that most companies need is a website that works.

Considerations when Setting up IT Infrastructure

Here are some things businesses need to think about when you setup your IT infrastructure:

  • Low Latency: Latency is the time between when a user does something and when it happens. Systems must have as little latency as possible to improve how well information moves through an organization. Don’t use old computers because they are likely slower and less safe.
  • Optimized Networks: A network’s connections must be stable to reduce downtime. It is also essential for managing the traffic from the internet.

You can also choose whether to use wired connections or wireless ones. Wired systems are more reliable than wireless systems but need more cables and connectors.

  • High Bandwidth: For IT systems in offices to work well, they usually need fast internet speeds. If many people in your office work on the same network, choose speedier internet speeds.
  • Security: With cybercrime on the rise, keeping outside threats out of your IT systems is more critical than ever. Ensure all systems have their firewalls turned on, and all connections between devices are encrypted.
  • Make Backups: To protect their valuable data, businesses must regularly make backups of their data. When it comes to losing data, people who use cloud-based document management systems are safer than those who use physical storage devices.

Cloud servers are also less expensive than physical servers, and better fit the needs of small businesses as they grow.

  • Bring Your Own Device: BYOD allows your staff to use their computers, phones, and tablets at work. This strategy is suitable for new small businesses since it helps them to start rapidly, releasing capital typically required to purchase new hardware.

However, IT support and security can be a concern, as personal devices used for work raise data storage, ownership, privacy, and security concerns. Mobile Device Management Solutions can help address several BYOD issues.

IT Setup: Planning for Routine Infrastructure Upgrades and Maintenance

The first step is only to plan the IT infrastructure. Once you’ve set up the basics of your IT infrastructure, most of your IT costs will go toward running and maintaining it.

The business world of technology changes constantly, so you need a way to keep up with it. Regular upgrades and maintenance help your business in many ways:

  • Adds new Features that increase Productivity: As software and hardware improve, business processes can be handled in better ways.
  • Extends the useful life of Hardware: Hardware can run into problems that shorten its useful life. If the data center doesn’t have enough climate control or is used in a way that isn’t in line with how it’s supposed to be used, it can fail suddenly.

Maintenance finds these problems before they cause your infrastructure to break down.

  • Lowering the Risks of a Security Breach: Cyber threats can change daily. Cybercriminals often go after software and firmware that are out of date. Routine upgrades fix security holes and reduce the chances of data breaches.
  • Improves Performance: As you try out different combinations of hardware and software for your business, the systems can improve over time. The IT staff also learns more about these solutions, which can help them work better.
  • Keeps Operating Costs Low: Choosing the proper IT infrastructure for the company and getting a better return on investment reduces waste in the IT budget. You can redirect any cost savings toward other projects that are just as important.
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