IT/Network setup for our 15-20 person office?
January 29, 2014 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Any networking experts here? My company of 15-20 people is about to move into a new office from old, shared space where all IT was taken care of. I've been put in charge of the phone and networking in the new place.

The office is primarily developers and will have a fiber connection with plenty of bandwidth. The electrician we've hired will take care of the actual ethernet wiring.

I'm a developer, and am somewhat familiar with networking but at a smaller scale. Can anyone provide some advice about what the best setup for this is along with recommended vendors/models without spending a fortune? I don't mind learning how to configure them.

My assumption is that the network will basically look like this, but please feel free to correct me (we don't have any on-site servers; just computers and mobile devices):

Incoming ISP-> Router -> Firewall (?) --> Switch --> Cat5 to computers and SIP phones

Will most routers (or switches?) take care of the wireless connection or should we use a separate device (attached to the switch?)? Do we need both? Are there generally good manufacturers and product lines that we should look at? I assume my usual household choices aren't right for this. I have heard that PoE is helpful; any other features I need to be looking for?

Also, we're planning on using a SaaS hosted VoIP system with phones purchased online so will need to set QoS for that. We don't have any on-site servers or authentication in our office so don't need LDAP or AD.

Thanks in advance!

(I saw a few similar threads but some were fairly old, and others had some differences in the setup).
posted by jenmcee to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you're not running any servers locally, then yes, things are pretty simple. Some thoughts:

You will want your wireless AP separate from your switch. I would recommend putting your wifi on a different network segment (greater security, easier QoS management, etc.) but, that might be more complicated than you are after. Cisco APs are hard to beat, but expensive. If you are in a building with lots of other WiFi devices, then you may not get the greatest performance - it might pay for you to download some wifi scanners and do a survey. PoE is great if you can't run power to where you will have the device. Otherwise, it's a feature you pay for but won't use.

As for router/firewall, again Cisco makes great hardware, but pricey. The ISP may provide this depending on the type of service you've got and so on.

Personally, I'd recommend getting some quotes from networking places in your area and seeing what a basic setup would cost. At least you'd have a better idea what your price points are and someone to walk you through some layouts. It's not hard, but, there are a dizzying array of options.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:35 PM on January 29, 2014

We use a WatchGuard wireless firewall. Their products are worth checking out. We use 8x8's IP phone system and it seems to work fine even with low bandwidth. We use a Dell switch and it's been running for years without fail. I don't think you need to spend a crazy amount of money to have a stable, reliable, well performing network.
posted by Dansaman at 9:12 PM on January 29, 2014

Before you buy anything, have a talk with your VOIP provider about what they recommend. If you're just sharing internet, you can basically just throw a high end netgear and a 24 port switch, and you're good to go. VOIP complicates things, especially with 15-20 users, and you'll want to have a configuration they're comfortable with if you intend to lean on them for tech support dealing with stuff like sound quality and dropped calls (which almost always happen, especially with new setups).

If you have someone on staff that's familiar with VOIP you can, of course, buy whatever they're comfortable with using.
posted by empath at 9:24 PM on January 29, 2014

Thanks! Are there any other recommended model lines for this? Besides Cisco, what should I be looking at with a reasonable price in terms of switches?
posted by jenmcee at 6:51 AM on February 1, 2014

Adtran is basically a cisco clone at half the price.
posted by empath at 8:11 AM on February 1, 2014

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