Best Practices to Follow when Planning a Network Upgrade

IPC-network-upgrade-plan

In our last post, we explained why end-of-sale and end-of-life networking equipment puts your business at risk. Older networking technology is more prone to failure, increasing the likelihood of downtime and data loss. In addition, outdated networking technology is less secure and more expensive to maintain, and may not be compliant with increasingly stringent regulatory requirements.

An older network also puts your business at a strategic disadvantage because it cannot support today’s high-performance applications. This is particularly true of IP communications systems, which demand sufficient bandwidth and Quality of Service capabilities to minimize latency and deliver a high-quality user experience.

Many organizations hesitate to upgrade their networks due to the complexity involved. After all, a network upgrade affects everyone in the organization, from IT administrators to end-users in every department. Unlike applications that are used only by specific users or groups, the network is accessed by everyone for all kinds of IT-related functions. With proper planning, however, a network upgrade can be completed with minimal business disruption and downtime. A best-practices approach will ensure that the project is successful, creating a strong network foundation that greatly reduces business risk.

In order to develop a network upgrade plan, start by analyzing your present and future needs. Gather network usage data and use it to project growth. Factor in any anticipated expansion, including new employees, devices, applications and locations. Think about the potential for mergers and acquisitions. You should plan your network upgrade to meet your organization’s bandwidth, performance and security demands three to five years from now.

Remember to integrate security best practices into your network upgrade plan. Take this opportunity to assess your security strategy, and address any vulnerabilities that are putting your organization at risk. Evaluate new security tools that can better protect your network and your mission-critical data.

Develop a timeline for rolling out the upgrade, taking into account the inevitable bumps in the road. Notify users of the planned upgrade and explain how it will impact their job functions. Will the network be accessed differently? Will they need to learn how to use different tools and applications? Make sure support staff is properly trained to address any potential issues.

Finally, make sure your network upgrade plan is well documented. Documentation will help ensure that your project is completed on time and within budget. If you engage a network integrator to handle the implementation, make sure that they assign a project manager to keep everything on track.

There is no getting around the fact that a network upgrade is a complex undertaking. However, the cost of doing nothing can potentially have much more serious consequences for your organization. Let IPC help you assess your current and future needs, develop and document a network upgrade plan, and ensure that the plan is executed with minimal risk and downtime.