The level of connectivity that we have today would not be possible of course, without the sophisticated network infrastructure that exists. Whether it is using fibre optics, ethernet, or even the traditional dial-up modem, as a society, we are highly dependent upon it to transmit and receive information/data.
For example, according to Gartner, by 2021 there will be over 21 billion IoT (Internet of Things) devices that will be connected, thus putting even greater strain on an already burdened system. (SOURCE: 1).
Thus, it is imperative to make sure that network refreshes occur on a regular basis.
When to refresh your wireless networks
How do you know when it is time to refresh your network? Here are some tell-tale signs:
1) You notice a substantial decrease in overall network performance:
This occurs when your network infrastructure simply cannot keep up with the pace at which your employees access the resources, they need to accomplish their daily job tasks. In these instances, it is best to consult with a networking professional, and have them conduct various tests to pinpoint where the specific bottlenecks exist. They will typically run a site survey, in which different network scans will be executed.
2) The network has not kept up with growth:
This can happen from two different aspects for an organisation:
- There is increased activity because of getting more customers.
- You have hired more employees in a shorter period than originally projected.
The tendency here is to accomplish more with less network resources, but eventually this will soon backfire. Growth requires that your company scales up accordingly, but not to the point where you have too many wireless access points, as this could lead to network disruptions.
3) Your network infrastructure falls behind in security standards:
Cyberattacks to networks are becoming an almost daily routine. Thus, it is imperative that your business keeps up with the latest security patches and upgrades. But your network must be compatible with the latest updates. If after installing them performance slows down even more, this is a warning sign that your system is too outdated.
4) Your revenue starts taking a hit:
Obviously, there are many reasons why your bottom line could be shrinking. But most business leaders fail to understand that decreased network performance could also be a cause for this. For example, your customers need to access your online store in just a matter of seconds from their smartphone so that they order a product or service that they need right away. Your sales team is depending upon 24 X 7 X 365 access to your CRM so that they can keep track of the sales pipeline as they meet new prospects. The manufacturing processes that you have put into place needs to keep up with the pace of producing goods. Also, your supply chain and distribution nodes need to have information and data constantly fed into them so that they can determine the most optimal delivery routes. All these scenarios come down to one common denominator: having a network infrastructure that is optimised to handle all these demands, and even more.
5) Your network infrastructure is simply too outdated:
If your system is working fine with outdated equipment, then why upgrade it? In other words, if it isn’t broken why fix it? The truth is that even though you may be using legacy hardware just fine, but if and when it breaks down, your business will incur a far greater expense in the long run. The rule of thumb here is that network devices should be replaced at minimum, every 3-4 years. Remember, when updating your infrastructure, both network coverage and network capacity need to be taken into 100% consideration.
6) Networks consist of more than just servers and workstations:
In the older days of networking, the typical client server model consisted of these two components. But with the explosion of wireless technology, smartphones have become one of the most important aspects of any network. Thus, optimisation is needed from two different angles:
The technical perspective:
- You need to make sure that you are running at minimum, on the 5GHz platform for the wireless devices.
- You need to plan for the applications that your network infrastructure will support. For example, apart from the usual smartphone functionalities, will it also support other specialised features such as video streaming, real time conferencing, etc.?
- Your network must be roaming capable, without any break in connectivity as your remote employees travel from Point A to Point B.
The business perspective:
- You should have a Predictive RF Design study conducted. By doing this, you will get a very realistic and accurate model as to what your upgraded network infrastructure will look like.
7) You keep hearing complaints:
One of the first signs you will know that your network infrastructure is need of some serious upgrading is when you start hearing complaints from your employees. Typically, this will involve venting frustrations about much slower than usual network speeds, connectivity that is spotty or breaking apart in certain areas at your place of business, or that even shared resources and/or applications cannot even be accessed when needed. If this is not resolved within a short period of time, this will only further exacerbate employee frustration, which lead to a decline in productivity. In fact, it has even described that 60% of employees cannot go without solid network access for even just one day. (SOURCE: 3).
Ravi Das is a Cybersecurity Consultant and Business Development Specialist. He also does Cybersecurity Consulting through his private practice, RaviDas Tech, Inc. He also possesses the Certified in Cybersecurity (CC) cert from the ISC2.