Every business, whether big or small, would need to establish a business network. A business network enables the employees of the business to communicate with their clients outside. Smooth external communication relies on equipment such as computers, servers, mobile phones, and even devices connected to the Internet Of Things (IOT). Switches, routers, and wireless access points are the basics that build your network and ensure efficient communication in your office network.
So how much will it cost you to set up your small business network? It may be anywhere from $1000 – $5000. There is no definite number applicable for all businesses, since each small office network has its own unique needs. However, this article will guide you on the cost breakdown of network parts, installment, and maintenance fees, which can give you the estimated sum you would have to pay when building your small office network.
Parts of a Small Business Network
In order to appreciate the value of what you will be purchasing as part of your small business network, it’s important to first understand the pieces that comprise this network in the first place. For a small office network, the parts you will need aren’t complicated. You may even have them at work already. The main components of a small business network are:
A router is a device that connects computer networks in a single location or across multiple areas. It acts as a dispatcher for information, since it connects your devices to the Internet and to each other.
The wireless version of the router is more commonly used now, because they are more accessible and easy to install. Business-level routers also feature anti-spam, anti-virus, and built-in firewall systems which work to protect your data from attacks done over the internet.
A switch is another network hardware used to connect devices such as printers, fax machines, computers, surveillance systems and servers with each other. When connected to a router, a network from different switches will be consolidated into a much larger network. There are two types of switches:
- Unmanaged switch: Unmanaged switches is a simple plug-in solution for extending your network to allow communication between multiple devices. An unmanaged switch works best in conference rooms or printing and faxing stations.
- Managed switch: A managed switch gives you more control over your network and how it connects to the internet. It can increase transmission speed with additional hardware, and can even decide who gets to access what data. However, managed switches are more advanced so you may need assistance from an IT management service.
A firewall is your business’s first line of defense against malicious attacks. While most small business owners believe that they aren’t the targets of cyberattacks, statistics show otherwise. In 2019, 43% of data breach victims were small businesses. Every network has value, and is not invulnerable to these attacks. A firewall is a cybersecurity necessity, and defending your network will always cost less than recovering a compromised system.
Firewalls are designed to protect both hardware and software, so a small business should consider investing in both:
- Hardware firewall: Hardware firewalls work against cyberattacks for your entire network.
- Software firewall: A software firewall is pre-installed in devices such as your laptop, and only protects the particular device from malicious attacks.
A server is a special type of computer that performs more complex processes, such as file sharing, database storage, and web hosting. Unlike an ordinary desktop computer, one small business server is equipped with multiple hard drives and power supplies to process data and keep the system running 24/7. There are two types of servers:
- Dedicated server: A dedicated server is a physical server often used by organizations with steady, high demands for server capacity.
- Cloud server: Cloud servers operate the same way as a dedicated server does. The only difference is that cloud servers reside in a “virtualized” environment managed by your cloud hosting provider.
An endpoint device is any machine that can transmit information through an internet connection. Computers, printers, phones, tablets, and other gadgets are examples of endpoint devices. This is the component that most business owners are familiar with and dedicate more IT resources to, but these will not be efficient nor secure enough to use without the other network components.
Cost Breakdown of a Small Business Network
|Average Hardware Cost|
|Router||$80 – $350|
|Switch||$250 – $450|
|Server||$1000 – $3000|
|Firewall (Hardware)||$400 – $2300|
|Firewall (Software)||$150 – $300 / device|
Since endpoint devices vary for every organization, they will be excluded from this cost breakdown.
While high quality routers are good for future proofing your business for a few years, it’s best not to invest in an expensive model, since time and technology may render your router obsolete. Affordable business-grade routers cost around $100-$200, and offer robust VPN support, enhanced security, and business application prioritization.
The price of a network switch varies depending on the type of switch. Unmanaged switches are great for offices that lack extensive IT support, since your employees can plug-and-play with 5 – 26 available ports. A managed switch is better fit for much larger organizations. You can also opt to purchase a smart switch, which may support your small office better as its functionality extends to word processing, Internet access, and hot spots.
Choosing a server usually depends on how much CPU, bandwidth, disk space, and memory is required by the organization. Additional considerations for a small business server may also include RAID, DDoS protection, and hard drive type. On an average, a server itself may cost $1260, while server memory or RAM costs $200 and a hard disk drive costs $65. A server is one good investment if your small office is growing with more users, and you need to manage data quickly and constantly.
Firewalls are a tool to keep your information safe from unauthorized access. Before you decide on what firewall to purchase, it is important to assess your personal or corporate needs. Some IT firms offer firewall packages for businesses depending on the number of users.
Organizations with around 25 users can expect an estimated cost of $2000 for entry-level hardware firewall, built-in WIFI Access Point, an advanced security subscription good for three years.
Installing and Maintaining Your Business Network
Some professionals charge a range of $1500 – $2000 for installing an office network. This usually includes at least a router, a switch, and a 6-month warranty. Setting up a server typically costs $100 – $150, but it largely depends on what needs to be done – same for maintenance costs. Regular IT maintenance will be required over time for efficient use.
The price for installing and maintaining one business network will also vary depending on your location, which means total costs may reach $5000. Choose an installer who can help you design a network that can easily be expanded, upgraded, and improved according to what you need, to get the best value for your money.
Set Up Your Small Business Network
While setting up a home network is often a matter of plug-and-play, you should consider investing more time and effort into your business network.
If your small office doesn’t have an in-house IT team to assist you in setting up and continually upscaling your network, Abacus IT can offer its services to you. With our team of engineers, Abacus has kept systems up and running for over 15 years. Not only will we be able to ensure stress-free operations, but we can minimize your costs too. Contact us and let Abacus set up your network today.