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Standards matter to small- and medium-sized businesses

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Small- and medium-sized organisations are faced with an interesting set of benefits and drawbacks as they aim to make better use of technology and drive new efficiencies into their operations.

“On the one hand, small- and medium-sized businesses can get away with far less complex solutions, since they’re more attuned to what their business needs are,” says Pieter Engelbrecht, product manager at Tarsus.
“Because of their size, they are also able to make use of products from both the corporate and consumer sectors, allowing them to be more aggressive in their adoption of new, cutting-edge technologies,” he adds.
“On the other hand, however, they have to contend with much smaller technology budgets than their larger counterparts, and that means it’s often the responsibility of one or two individuals to make the right buying decisions and integrate those new solutions into their current environment.”
That’s the reason that networking standards are one of the most important considerations small- and medium-sized businesses should consider before buying a networking product or solution.
Engelbrecht says that standards-based networking equipment makes small businesses’ lives simpler, since providing a product adheres to the commonly used standards in the market, so they can count on it working with equipment that’s already installed in their business.
“This means less risk that the purchased network equipment may not work, and that they have a broader choice of different standards-compliant networking devices to pick from. It also means that – since they’re most often doing the installation themselves – they save time during installation and probably have fewer problems during the run-time of the system.
“Standards compliance also allows network devices to communicate among themselves to provide maximum service and to detect and avoid problems.
“I’m not just talking about a standard like Ethernet or Internet Protocol (IP) but rather about deeper standards such as Power over Ethernet (PoE), which is a standard that ensures WiFi equipment in factories and shop floors are able to draw power over the Ethernet cable that connects it to the rest of the network, or the LLDP protocol that detects newly attached devices and configures them according to central policies, defined by the IT administrator,” he says.
“Another example is the Energy-efficient-Ethernet standard that fosters a negotiation between the network switch and attached devices, so that a link is only active when communication happens. The rest of the time the switch sends the physical link to sleep, resulting in substantial energy-savings.
“For small companies using default configurations, standards-based products make networking a 'plug-and-play' experience. You plug in the devices and everything works. Why and how is not really important. And when the CEO is also the IT manager, the kind of equipment that self-configures and just works when it’s plugged in is the way forward,” he concludes.