For the small office/home office (SOHO), it's important for you to be able to quickly and correctly deploy networking equipment. Getting this right the first time is especially important because these offices usually don't have full-time IT professionals on-site. This requires the administrator in charge of initial setup to not only provide further planning and procedural material to aid in the installation, but also to support the equipment remotely.
To help you select, configure, and support SOHO networking equipment, we've put together a series of checklists in a Microsoft Excel workbook that you can download for free. These checklists focus on SOHO routers, hubs, switches, cabling, and wireless access points, and each checklist addresses the following issues:
- Needs and features identification
- Hardware installation
- Software configuration
- Client operability testing
- Support and recovery
These checklists will provide you with enough information to commission a successful deployment of your SOHO networking equipment, as well as give you a starting plan to work from when things go awry.
How to use this download
This download is a collection of five Excel worksheets that identify common features, configuration items, and support information for the specified SOHO networking equipment. The document makes some general assumptions about the nature of the needs of the clients—namely, that there are fewer than 20 clients at the site, Ethernet is the only topology used, and that TCP/IP is the only network protocol used at the site. This type of setup applies to the majority of SOHO configurations, but may not apply to every scenario.
You can print this worksheet and check off material you have already purchased as you configure it, or modify the document to add notes for issues and to include other features, procedures, or even equipment substitutions.
The "Needs and feature identification" section of each worksheet will assist you in selecting the features you want for your SOHO networking equipment. Identifying the functionality requirements is without a doubt the most significant step in this process. This will allow you to examine the operational requirements of the site and to become familiar with the common standard features for networking equipment. To look into specific features of products, you may need to dig deeper into product documentation.
I've arranged the "Software configuration," "Hardware installation," "Client operability testing," and "Support and recovery" sections of the worksheet in a way that I think is most helpful, based on my experience deploying equipment to remote sites.
You should thoroughly test each device once all configurations are made (that's where "Client operability testing" comes in). This includes every port and rule. In addition, you need to make sure that all steps are documented—I can't stress this enough. You should also have a (tested) procedure in place to address a failure of the devices you put in. Spare equipment, warranty replacement programs, and ready access to all important information will make for a much quicker resolution to issues.
Where do I start?
If you plan to deploy SOHO networking equipment, this download can help you identify the features necessary for the site. If you're going to support the site remotely, the more planning you can put into the initial process, the better equipped you and the site will be for handling any issues that may arise in the future.
Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.