The typical office computer network is pretty straight forward and consists of only a few different components. The typical network would include the following:
- Patch Panel
- Network Switch
- Data Cable
- Work Stations
- Firewall / Router
Each desk in an office will typically have a computer and phone. Data cabling is run from the Patch Panel out to a jack by the desk. Category 5 cable will connect the computer to the jack on the wall. The user will then typically want to have access to resources such as printers and servers. For instance a company may have its own mail server and / or a file server where people in the office save and share files. And so each of these devices will have a cable run to them and will have a port on the patch panel.
As a rule, all items have a data cable run that goes back to the patch panel and then there is a small cable that will go between the patch panel and the network switch for each device.
In order for the servers and work stations to have access to the Internet the network switch needs to make a connection to a router. This router will communicate with the Internet service provider. For security purposes either the router will run firewall software or another device will be added that acts as a firewall.
The diagram at the bottom of the page shows an illustration of the typical office network.
For the last 6-8 years using the Internet to route phone calls has become popular as it is a cost saving move for businesses. Using Voice over IP a company longer needs to pay for local telephone lines. By adding a card to their phone system or a special server a company can now use the Internet for telephone services. There are a few things that need to be considered though before a company makes this transition and this includes the following:
- Is the data cable category 5 or better?
- Is the patch panel rated for VoIP?
- Is the switch fast enough, aka, are the data switches 10/100 or Gigabyte?
- Can the switch be set up with Quality of Service (QoS)?
- Are there no more than 2 switches in a data path?
- Do you need Power over Ethernet (PoE)?
- Do you have battery back up?
- Have you had a tech test your network to see it is capable of running VoIP?
- Do you have enough bandwidth going to the Internet?
The final step is to use VoIP capable phones and they are plugged in in front of the computer and then a cable goes from the phone to the computer. You can use stand alone phones as well.
To learn more about VoIP, read our next article “Ways to Improve Your VoIP Calls.”