Top considerations when upgrading or reviewing a network
There are many network design considerations that need to be taken into account before embarking on a network design project. These considerations will help you to make the best planning and network design choices for your business.
In it’s simplest definition, a computer network is a group of computers connected together for many purposes, usually as a way to allow computers to share resources and information.
As a company grows its business, solution providers such as Centrix, play a leading role in assisting and implementing network design projects needed when a company wishes to update an existing network. A common example of this is when a business takes on more employees, the network also has to expand in order to accommodate additional users or workloads.
Vendors, such as Microsoft, have commoditised their network products, allowing solution providers such as Centrix, to implement powerful network elements that would have been cost-prohibitive just a few years ago.
Modern network design has moved away from the traditional challenges of component selection and configuration and is now focused on using established technologies to solve clients’ business problems. For example, leading vendor Cisco has recently built a modern network service layer for visualised and cloud infrastructure. Businesses all over the world are turning to Cloud services to store and manage their business files, apps and systems. Networks are moving that way, meaning that traditional infrastructure, at least in some cases, has become redundant.
What you need to know before upgrading you’re network
■ Understanding what a network upgrade will achieve?
Or in other words, ‘product identification,’ which is perhaps the most important consideration in any network design project. One must first identify and understand the business network as well as the business as a whole. What type of business is it? What sector? When was it established? Is it experiencing growth? What are it’s competitors doing? All these questions need answering before a suitable network design upgrade can even be pondered. Centrix have found over many years’ that network design is less about technologies and components (e.g., switches and NICs) and more about meeting clients’ network technology goals and business objectives. Once these are decided upon, the next step is to identify what sort of network design upgrade will be of benefit to the business in question. It is never a one-size-fits-all operation.
■ How will the network support remote and mobile workers?
An important aspect of any modern network is one that provides a unified communications support structure. A business in the 21st century must recognise the importance of a distributed and mobile workforce, and adjust it’s network to accommodate this. Mobility technologies, such as Microsoft Lync or the Centrix cloudDesk, allow users to access data any time from any place on any device – a core concept behind unified communications. Mobile computing has moved past the weaknesses found in early implementations and in conjunction with the rise of Bring your own device (BYOD) policy, is now a pivotal business function.
■ What security risks need to be taken into account?
Network design projects must take into account security – particularly as it often relates to a businesses regulatory compliance obligations. Security can complicate business objectives, such as mobile computing or shadow IT, so it’s important that solution providers such as Centrix are always challenged to balance security and compliance with business objectives.
■ How to leverage current infrastructure?
The role and suitability of the current network infrastructure is important. Unless you’re a brand-new business, you will more than likely have some kind of network in place and running. Network design planning should involve a pre-assessment – or an IT audit – including a review of the current network and access to any existing documentation.
This will ensure the interoperability of new technologies and aid you in identifying any network elements that my require upgrades or configuration changes to support the new project and that extending the life of any existing infrastructure – where possible – is always the favoured outcome for any business.
■ Is it time to move your network to the Cloud?
Cloud services can help with simplifying a network and reducing costs such as: Shedding excess infrastructure or moving more services and applications from the data centre to the Web, a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider, or into “the cloud” to limit the client’s dependence on bandwidth and network hardware. Solution providers should consider cloud computing for their network design projects.
■ How can virtualisation improve performance?
While not a network component per se, virtualisation has taken on an important role in servers, storage, desktops and even the network. Virtualisation increases utilization and allows workloads to be moved seamlessly without regard for the underlying physical hardware. This adds complexity to the client’s environment, but saves money through consolidation.
Solution providers that introduce virtualization or handle network designs in a virtualised environment will need to ensure that hardware is suitable for the amount of work being performed, especially in network connectivity and bandwidth. For example, a server handling 10 workloads will need significantly more network connectivity than the same server handling only one workload.
If your business needs advice or the implementation on upgrading or reviewing your current network, call Centrix today.