Choosing the right router for your small and medium-sized business (SMB) or small office/home offices (SOHO) can be challenging. An enterprise-grade router may be too expensive and offers features that you don't need, while a consumer router may not be able to ensure the performance, security and scalability of the former. We talked to Jai Thampi, Head of Networking Business Unit, International Markets, Belkin Inc, to get tips on what SMBs and SOHOs should consider before purchasing a router.
Computerworld Singapore: What type of routers should SMBs and SOHOs depend on? Why?
Jai Thampi: There are a number of factors that SMBs and SOHOs should consider when purchasing a router. These are the questions I would ask to help determine the best router for the environment they will be used in:
- How many users will be using the internet at the same time?
- Do you have the need for wireless - being mobile around the office or home office?
- Do you require a VPN to connect to an office or head office for connectivity to servers, storage or other files?
- How large is your office or home office?
- Do you want to have quest access to the wireless network?
- Is the office wired with Ethernet?
- Are you using VoIP for your office phone system?
- Does the office have IT staff or are you using a VAR (Value Added Reseller) for service?
Based on these questions, users can determine what kind of router they will need. We can provide in general terms what a typical office or home office would require.
For small offices with up to 20 users, I recommend a combination of a wired router and wireless access point. Having this combination will allow office users to put the wired router in the server room with other servers, switches, and storage, while the wireless access point can be placed in the most ideal location in the office for best performance and coverage.
A small business wired router from Linksys will provide site to site virtual private network (VPN) access for up to 50 users so if the office needs to connect to another head office, there are VPN connectivity options to get a secure connection. There is also an integrated firewall which supports URL filtering and allows IT administrators or resellers to further regulate traffic based on source/destination IP addresses. There are also VLAN tagging options.
Along with a wireless access, small office environments can choose from the latest Wireless-AC technology to ensure that their wireless connectivity matches the latest smartphones, tablets and laptops. Wireless Access points with power over Ethernet (PoE) will enable small offices to put up a single access point anywhere in the office to provide the best performance for the employees while also offering a captive portal to provide wireless access to guests or customers.
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