Networks play a crucial role in today’s business world, controlling, networking and analysing all communications, whether incoming, outgoing or within your organisation. Especially now that employees are becoming increasingly mobile, networks must also integrate and manage a growing number of end devices—and they must do so securely. After all, mobile workers are accessing valuable business information stored in your equally valuable network. Because many cyber attacks are unwittingly facilitated by staff, certain security protocols must be in place to ensure that only those authorised to do so are actually able to access your network.
Cabled large-area networks (LAN) are a cornerstone of business technology, not only enabling the growing number of broadband-intensive applications such as video communication, but also supporting the upsurge in wireless technology. LAN switching infrastructure connects countless devices and systems communicating with one another over your business network. While connectivity and broadband performance are certainly important, there are many other considerations as well. For instance, networks are increasingly relied upon to guarantee high communication security and prevent unauthorised access. In addition, networks must prioritise the transmission of data intended for business-critical applications, a criteria known as Quality-of-Service. All of these aspects work together to provide a wide range of end devices with the services they need for optimum communication.
Modern LAN switches not only supply power to connected devices through PoE, they open the door to new network functions. For instance, they support building technology and accommodate numerous sensors—devices that can be controlled and managed intelligently through switches.
The newest paradigm of highly flexible networking is software-defined networking (SDN), which allows you to virtualise and centrally manage hardware, control software and applications.
Network control is thus separated from physical infrastructure and relocated to a type of network abstraction layer. This enables you to automate and simplify network operation, including system configuration. In addition, data streams for business-critical applications can be controlled and optimised to meet demand.
Virtually all mobile devices, machines and equipment have some sort of wireless interface. It’s no longer a question of whether or not to use Wi-Fi, but rather where and how to implement it.
Key considerations include:
In addition to market leaders Cisco Meraki and HPE/Aruba, we also carry other well-known vendors such as Aerohive and Ubiquiti, to name just a few.
In addition, Bechtle offers premium partner-support services for our vendors’ products, which you can combine with additional Bechtle services to match your specific circumstances. We generally begin with a workshop to determine your needs and requirements, followed by an overview of the various solutions available—always with a view to supporting your business goals. Only then do we make any recommendations. Our portfolio includes controller-based, standalone and cloud-based Wi-Fi solutions.
Wi-Fi options have never been more comprehensive or easier to use. Specialist providers and wireless-component producers offer valuable tools to design and implement professional wireless networks. Still, not every provider is properly trained or able to draw on a wealth of experience. As a result, the quality of your Wi-Fi implementation may suffer—and you may not even notice it until after the fact.
Unless you’re an IT provider yourself, Wi-Fi is probably not your core business. So how do you go about finding a solid provider? How can you ensure the services you receive are of a measurably high quality? And how can you guarantee compliance with all applicable legal requirements? We provide service documents underpinning the quality we promise in our offers, so you can plan your Wi-Fi projects with maximum assurance.
Craftsmen use specific tools to ply their trade. It’s no different when planning high-quality Wi-Fi solutions. Unfortunately, many providers scrimp on equipment. Not us. We work with modified specialist equipment and software such as Ekahau Site Survey Pro, which lets us quickly and securely survey the parameters relevant to implementing Wi-Fi on your premises. This not only saves you time and money, it also minimises issues within your environment. And we’re even able to provide these services during the business hours of a busy shopping centre or in a 24x7 warehouse.
Whether via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth beacons, ultra-specific geolocation has numerous advantages, for example allowing you to more quickly locate equipment that may have been moved, thanks to enhanced data quality and accuracy. We offer special apps providing custom geolocation services for you and your own customers.
If your company has multiple branch offices or production sites, you want them to be able to communicate flawlessly with one another and headquarters. It’s therefore essential to choose a suitable method for connecting them, such as a wide area network (WAN) operated by yourself or a service provider, or through a virtual private network (VPN) over the Internet.
You’ll also have to consider mobile staff accessing resources in your business network via a remote-access VPN solution, not to mention any small or home offices.
Operating your own WAN can entail substantial time and expense. Not only must your IT employees have the necessary skills to properly use router systems for WAN connectivity, they’ll also be responsible for the connections themselves. In addition, they must be able to address such issues as WAN optimisation and data encryption—which is vital when transmitting sensitive data. The upside to operating your own WAN is that you’ll enjoy full access to all systems—and be able to control the quality of data transmission. You’ll also be able to quickly make any necessary adjustments yourself.
For some businesses, however, operating their own WAN simply isn’t an option. They often prefer to purchase managed services from a provider. Such providers not only supply the connections and WAN router (CPE) linking different sites, they also offer optional security services, such as encryption and VPNs. An SLA guaranteeing service availability is also included for a full package. A wide variety of managed WAN services are available.
Cyber attacks and data theft have become an ever-present threat in the past few years, which is why network security needs to be a top priority. Your network manager must find an effective way to respond to threats and outside attacks while also setting up, implementing and enforcing internal security policies. Yet the biggest challenge of all may be protecting your company’s network not only from the outside, but also from within. Unfortunately, unauthorised access to sensitive data or even attempts to sabotage your business may take place within your in-house network—often by your own employees, whether unwittingly or maliciously.
These solutions must be addressed through an appropriate IT security architecture suited to your company’s needs.
Network access control (NAC) is essential for defining who is authorised to communicate via your network. Think of it as your house key—you wouldn’t give that to just anyone, would you?
NAC is a vital component of network security, authenticating and authorising end devices before granting them access. Through role-based policies, you can protect your business network against malware and unauthorised access from within the network. This is because only policy-compliant users and devices are given access to sensitive data.
Today’s smart networks are able to identify communication patterns that deviate from the norm (for instance if your system has been infected by malware or your servers have been attacked) and take immediate action. Anomaly detection and intrusion prevention can hinder an attack or keep it from spreading too far. Next-generation firewalls also play a key role, leveraging URL filtering, advanced malware protection and cutting-edge NGIPS integration not only to protect you from known threats, but also to respond swiftly to zero-day attacks.
The latest technology even makes it possible to analyse encrypted data and determine whether it contains any potential threats.
Today’s state-of-the-art technology coordinates integrated, sophisticated security features, including routers, switches, firewalls, Wi-Fi controllers and access points, as well as network infrastructure components with cloud-based security features and services.
Because of this, it’s important to implement a management solution that brings together all of these network-security aspects in one central location. And management tasks should also be minimised and streamlined to ensure an effective, prompt response to threats.
Modern IT infrastructures are becoming increasingly complex, requiring smart management to ensure everything functions reliably. After all, your network serves as the basis for communication and data exchanges within your business. Any malfunctions or downtime can cause serious damage to your bottom line. Intuitive, user-friendly network management tools can help you provision network services more quickly, manage them more easily and monitor them more reliably. Such tools include:
One of the primary roles of network management is to take constant inventory of all your network components. Not only does this provide you with a fully transparent overview of your network devices, it’s also invaluable for keeping abreast of lifecycle information. Real-time licensing data, software release statuses and end-of-life information make it easier to plan future investments and IT budgets. The automatic documentation of such information also prepares you for audits and certifications.
In addition to providing hardware and software information, network management tools also facilitate the planning and operation of network infrastructure. Configuration and change management tools ensure that new devices are seamlessly incorporated into your network—making it easier to roll out network environments and integrate new company locations. Monitoring is another key task, allowing you to identify errors and malfunctions early on. Monitored parameters include not only performance data such as network speed and bandwidth, but also network health, which tracks the status of system-critical components such as CPU and RAM loads.
Digitalisation has opened the door to a panoply of new business requirements that demand even faster and more flexible provisioning models. Known as “Fast IT”, these models focus on breaking down and automating complex processes. Virtualisation and the central management of hardware, control software and applications through software-defined networking allows you to implement and enforce policies such as Quality-of-Service throughout your entire network—at the click of a button. Best of all, radically simplified configuration translates into significant time, money and resource savings.