10 Important Questions to Ask When Considering a Network Upgrade
As businesses expand and change, they may outgrow their existing networks and require an upgrade. Since network upgrades tend to be long-term investments and also tend to affect your overall VoIP platform, it is important to plan for future growth while still addressing current needs. In order to meet this objective, proper planning must be done before the first piece of new equipment is purchased. Be sure to consider the below issues when your company is planning an upgrade.
The number of users, types of equipment and location requirements
How many network users, printers and servers will the network support? Be sure to include anticipated growth of new users and devices over the next 12 months at the minimum. In addition to the quantity of extra resources, also think about other variables such as locations. For example, remote work environments may require your organization to expand networks to employees’ homes. Other than that, consider possible mergers, acquisitions and other factors that can change the nature of the current office space.
Current internet connectivity
How does the business connect to the internet? Does the ISP or the company own the equipment? If the company upgrades its connectivity, it may need to get the equipment to enable this improvement. With the steady proliferation of 5G technology, it is important to identify gaps in infrastructure, and maintain equipment that will be compatible enough to support the very same, and at scale.
What applications does the network need to operate? It is especially important to identify the requirements of voice and video applications, as these programs often require special services from an ISP in order to maintain an acceptable quality of service. Video conferencing applications in particular consume large amounts of data and bandwidth, so ensuring your network can sustain the load is crucial for providing meeting experiences to your team that are free from lags and disconnects.
Existing network infrastructure and layout
How many devices are currently on the network? How are they physically laid out? Is cabling running all over the floor, hidden in walls or threaded through the ceiling? When buying equipment, you must take physical infrastructure into account, as well as future plans for new services. Virtual servers and other hosted infrastructure can be a viable option to consider, with most VoIP vendors offering SaaS-based services at a nominal monthly or annual fee.
Of course, adopting a fully hosted service isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, and your organization may need to maintain infrastructure on-premise, or use a combination of the two. Again, most VoIP carriers can advise you on which deployment options are most suitable for your business’s unique requirements. So, make sure you keep them on the loop as you’re weighing in on your decision.
New services required
What new services will be required now or in the future? If the network will have to accommodate a remote office, for instance, consider a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection. VoIP and video conferencing are common applications that your business may want to add in the future. These services should be taken into account when you are designing a network upgrade.
Security and privacy
Does your company currently have a firewall in place? Today's Integrated Services Routers incorporate the features of stand-alone firewalls, saving space and simplifying complexity. VoIP security is of prime importance to organizations that operate intricate and extensive networks these days, in order to protect data and stay compliant with relevant regulatory bodies.
Additionally, leading cybersecurity vendors specialize in niche services, ranging from threat detection to penetration testing. So, taking things a notch or two higher for your VoIP solution to further strengthen your network’s perimeter will also count as a significant upgrade of what you currently own and operate.
Your business may want to upgrade a wired network or replace it with a wireless one. Or the company may want a combination of wired and wireless technology. How big is the area that your wireless network must cover? Each wireless access point has a limited range that is affected by the physical characteristics of the area to be covered. This ties in closely with network infrastructure and layout requirements, and whether you need to upgrade over to some hosted services in order to maximize coverage, and minimize load on any existing on-premise resources.
Reliability and uptime considerations
What is the real cost of downtime to the company? How much downtime can the business tolerate before incurring financial losses? Maintaining 100 percent uptime is extremely expensive and impractical. You have to decide, in discussion with all stakeholders, how much reliability the company can afford.
Your network is a crucial component for your business, communication and otherwise. Therefore, maintaining it is just as necessary, as it can determine the overall speed and performance of operations across every length and breadth of your business. However, scaling up (or down) will depend on a few variables that need to be addressed well beforehand, such as infrastructure deployment, coverage, locations and even user quantities.