Back to Basics: Give Your Team the Core Knowledge They Need for Small Business Networks
This note is for members of the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community. See https://www.smallbizthoughts.org. For all the resources linked in this article, members should first log into the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community.
You - and everyone on your team - can take a real step up in network troubleshooting if you have a core level of understanding in two technologies: TCP/IP and DNS. There's an old truth in our industry that goes back to the adoption of the Internet Protocol (IP) as the fundamental building block of modern networking:
It's Always DNS
And even though that's not 100% true, it's probably 90% true. Maybe 95%.
One of the very bad trends of the last ten years has been to hire "technical" people who are really just technically-interested but have few skills beyond using Google. Even today, with cloud services, everyone needs a fundamental level of training in TCP/IP and DNS.
The irony is that security is the hottest growth sector within our industry - and security always involves digging deep into the details of IP packets and examining the smallest pieces of the network traffic. So if you're going to do security, you'll eventually need to dig into the details.
I'm not saying everyone needs that level of understanding. But I believe everyone needs to know enough to understand what's going on below the software layer. And a whole lot of troubleshooting begins to make sense when you have that entry-level knowledge.
Even when the problem's not DNS, it's often a typo! Either a typo in DNS, or a typo in network addressing.
Three New Free Classes - TCP/IP and Networking
We have three important related resources in the community already:
- The Basic Primer on DNS (Recorded technical class)
- Internet Domain Name Documentation Kit (Technical doc)
- Using TCP/IP to Take Over the World (Recorded business-focused class)
Now we're adding three more important entry-level classes:
Understanding TCP/IP - A Very Practical Introduction.
Live July 5th at 9:00 AM Pacific. Of course it will be recorded for all members.
Members can find out more and register here: https://www.smallbizthoughts.org/member_content/understanding-tcp-ip.
This class will provide your entire staff with a basic, foundation-level understanding of the most important protocol of all time. There's a little math, but the goal is to understand how the math works, so technicians will understand how the Internet works. More importantly, this course will give everyone a solid understanding of what packets are, how they're constructed, and how them get moved from place to place. All with an eye to understanding the basics of how networks work.
The second course is
TCP/IP Troubleshooting - A Very Practical Workshop.
It will be live July 26th at 9:00 AM Pacific. Of course it will be recorded for all members.
Members can register now. See https://www.smallbizthoughts.org/tcp-ip-troubleshooting/.
This is literally a hands-on workshop to help attendees learn the basic tools of troubleshooting. It includes a workbook of basic problems. These are intended to reflect the real problems technicians can expect to see in the wild.
My experience with networking began in 1983 - well before TCP/IP was universally accepted as the one true protocol for the future. And one universal truth has always held true: You are FAR more likely to have trouble with networks you did not build than networks you did build.
That makes sense, of course. But maybe not for the reasons you think. "Other" peoples' networks are either old, or they are built on other peoples' bad habits. The networks you build are based on your bad habits. As your team grows, it needs to work hard to build networks based on industry standards, not your internally-consistent bad habits.
Both of these classes are great for making sure that everyone on your staff has a level-set on the basics of TCP/IP and networking. It will obviously be helpful for them to have a good understanding of DNS. So the earlier class should also be shared.
Finally, we'll cap it all off with a brand new 90-minute class built on the building blocks above:
Building the Basic Small Business Network
Live on August 16th at 9:00 Pacific. Of course it will be recorded for all members.
This workshop will cover the basic components of building a network, designing a network, and actually building one. We'll lay out a process for stepping through a new network design and installation from the ground up.
This special 90-minute class will have some important handouts and will leave lots of time for questions. We start with the cloud and work our way down to the desktop - with lots of tips and tricks along the way.
Attendees are not required to have consumed the earlier training - but it's not a bad idea.
And finally - if all goes as planned, we'll put together a new member Roadmap on network basics that includes all these classes and all the related handouts.
Every training mentioned in this post is FREE inside the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community. It is not available anywhere, at any price, to non-members. If you want to become a member, now is a great time to start.
The cost of community membership goes up July 1st. If you join now, you avoid the price increase AND lock in the lower price for life. More information is available at https://join.smallbizthoughts.org.