June 01, 2022

Eight types of network devices for your business

Building a business network necessitates the use of a variety of devices, including physical hardware and virtual ones. While most home networks consist of only a few of these devices, such as a modem and router, a business network can consist of thousands of devices both on-site and in remote locations.

Although enterprise network infrastructures can be complex digital ecosystems, they usually contain only a few of the most common network devices. More may be required as businesses expand their networks, which can be done seamlessly and cost-effectively with the support of expert consultation.

SEACOM Business assists Kenyan companies, both large and small, in designing, implementing and upgrading their business networks in order to achieve optimum efficiency and performance. Here are some of the most common network devices that you may need:

Access Point (AP) device

A wireless local area network (LAN) is created using access points (APs). These devices transmit and receive data, allowing visitors, clients and employees to connect to the internet wirelessly. The AP transmits internet signals using 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz bands. The signal is received by access points via an ethernet cable connected to the router.

When setting up an AP device, keep in mind that the location has an impact on signal strength. To provide maximum coverage, technicians typically mount APs on walls or ceilings. Physical barriers, such as thick walls, might interfere with wireless signals, so the layout of the premises should be taken into account when deciding where an AP should be placed.

Modems are the fundamental device

A modem is the most fundamental network device that is required for any network to be set up. Internet connectivity is provided by modems, which receive signals from an internet service provider (ISP) and convert them into a format that the rest of the network can process.

Internet modems connect to a router. The router then transmits the internet signal to the network's linked devices. ADSL, wireless and fibre internet are all supported by modems. Fibre optic connections, such as those provided by SEACOM Business, provide the fastest speeds and are best suited to business requirements in today's digital age.

Routers enable you to connect to the internet

A router is another important component of any network. These devices enable an internet connection by connecting to the modem and directing data from one part of the network to another. Routers scan incoming data packets, identify the destination IP addresses, and then send data packets to their intended destination. When a data packet is received, the router examines it, cross-references it with a routing table, and then selects the optimal path for that data.

Edge routers, wireless routers, core routers and distribution routers are all examples of routers that can be used to share and communicate data across different networks. These routers, which are located in different parts of the network, perform slightly different functions. Edge routers, for example, are used to communicate with end-point devices like laptops and printers at the network edge, whereas core routers are used to move data packets across a business network as quickly as possible.

Network bridge device

A network bridge device manages traffic moving between different parts of the network, allowing communication throughout the network. There are two types of these devices that are used to connect different LANs. The first is a transparent bridge, which links LANs that use the same protocol, and the second is a translation bridge, which links LANs that use different protocols.

Some network bridge devices have switching capabilities, which allow them to forward incoming data using media access control (MAC) addresses. While network bridge devices are still used in some business networks, they are being phased out. Switches are replacing bridge devices in large enterprise network designs because they are more effective.

Network switch devices send data

By scanning incoming data frames, network switch devices transmit incoming data to the destination. Switch ports are connected to devices such as computers, printers and internet-enabled equipment, usually via an ethernet cable. Incoming data is forwarded to these IP addresses via a network switch, which then sends the data to a designated destination port.

Switches, like network bridges, keep track of MAC addresses by collecting them in an address table. This table is referenced by the switch, which then transfers the incoming data frames to the correct destination. Switches divide bandwidth among ports to improve network efficiency and performance.

There are various types of network switches available, including managed and unmanaged switches, smart switches, Layer 2 or 3 switches, modular, fixed and stackable switches. SEACOM Business's infrastructure architects ensure that the correct network switches are used at each point of the network when designing enterprise networks.

Gateway devices connect multiple networks

Gateway devices connect networks that use different protocols, allowing data to flow back and forth between them. Gateways can translate data from incoming packets so that it can be used on different networks.

A data packet is forwarded to a router once it has been processed by a gateway. The packet is then sent to its final destination on the network. Gateways are commonly used in cloud architecture and internet-enabled networks.

Hubs connect multiple devices on the same network

Hubs are physical hardware that connect several devices on the same LAN. Higher speeds and more stable internet connections can be achieved by plugging laptops, desktops, printers and other devices into a hub port with an ethernet cable.

Hubs transmit and receive data without inspecting or isolating the data frames. They're only used to connect devices so that they can share a local network. Hubs must be connected to a router or switch in order to communicate beyond the local network. By connecting multiple hub devices together, the network's size and reach can be increased.

Hubs are divided into three categories: active, passive and intelligent. Before broadcasting messages to other ports, active hubs are used as repeaters to boost signal strength or repair signals of incoming messages. Passive hubs don't boost signals; instead, they link the devices that are connected to the port. Intelligent hubs are used to manage and monitor data, as well as to identify issues with linked devices.

Repeaters are used to boost signal strength and range

While an intelligent hub can boost the signal for devices connected to its ports, a repeater only has two ports: one for receiving signals and the other for transmitting them. Wireless networks frequently incorporate repeaters, particularly in large office environments where the wireless signal must travel a significant distance. They're increasingly being used in conjunction with fibre internet to boost speeds.

Business networking with these devices

Since business networking can be incredibly complicated, many Kenyan companies hire third-party professionals to design, deploy and maintain their network infrastructure. SEACOM Business provides a managed service that eliminates the need for businesses to hire specialised IT teams.

This allows companies to focus on their core operations while benefitting from our expertise in customised ICT solutions. For more information or to get a quote for our various business networking solutions, email us at marketing@seacom.com or leave us a message.

SEACOM owns Africa’s largest network of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, including fibre optic networks and subsea cables. We offer a wide range of industry-leading scalable ICT solutions for large companies that operate throughout the region.

SEACOM is privately owned - making it adaptable to the needs of the client. We are the preferred ICT and internet connectivity supplier for African enterprises. We can guarantee fast, reliable and secure internet and networking services at affordable prices.

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