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Network Switching – To Switch or Not To Switch..?

20th October 2016 | In Business Transformation
You’ve begun hearing mumblings of slow network speeds, the level of downtime is slowly creeping up. In short, your network has begun creaking at the seams. It’s time for a refresh but it’s something of a daunting prospect. No network will last for ever, sooner or later a refresh will be required and this brings with it the same quandary every IT manager faces: network switching. All too often, IT departments elect to remain with the same vendor without properly considering the facts. It seems like the easy option, the familiar option and the safe option – no one can blame them if it goes wrong when it’s the same vendor they’ve always used. This is a mistake. Businesses could be missing out on significant cost savings and productivity gains but not fully weighing up their options and dismissing alternative vendor solutions due to perceived challenges. Let’s consider these commonly perceived challenges of network switching in more detail:

1. Network switching will be too much upheaval

A network migration may not be as much upheaval as you might think, particularly if your equipment needs replacing anyway. The important thing to remember, as with any project, is to plan. Thorough planning will mitigate risks and any number of challenges that you may face. As such, pre-staging really becomes a mandatory element in any new rollout, giving you the opportunity to set up all new systems and, most importantly, test these systems prior to deployment. A chance to refine configurations and eliminate faults, pre-staging works to drastically minimise disruption, not to mention the risks, during the installation process. Finding a partner with experience in network migrations will greatly assist this process as they will recognise the common challenges and know exactly how to resolve them so you don’t have to.

2. Performance won’t be as good

This is often a concern based on little fact and a lot of fear. A vendor doesn’t have to be the market leader to be high performing. In fact, equipment from a non-market leader can be found in 99 out of the 100 Fortune Global companies as well as the top 5 social media platforms worldwide. That seems like a pretty strong indicator of performance to dispel those fears. If however, that’s still not enough to convince you, find a partner with the capabilities to demonstrate the potential new equipment to you. Demonstration facilities mean you can test drive the equipment and the operating system, run stress testing, capacity testing and interoperability testing, even linking the kit to your existing systems until you’re 100% confident it will meet your needs. Finally, remember to benchmark the performance of your existing infrastructure to give you a direct comparison with new systems. Demonstrating specific KPI improvement to your stakeholders will cement your decision to switch.

3. Employees won’t understand it

Training is required on any new system to get employees up to speed and comfortable using it. In fact, even an upgrade with the same vendor can demand new skills as technologies evolve and operating systems change. But, once the language of a new OS has been learnt, the management and configuration process remains largely the same. Finding a partner who can provide adequate training should alleviate some of these concerns and ensure you are able to get the most from your infrastructure.

4. It won’t interoperate with my existing kit

Network switching to a standards-based system ensures complete interoperability giving you more flexibility to combine solutions from different vendors. This also allows longer term cost reductions as you won’t be tied into the costly upgrades associated with vendor lock in.

5. I need to migrate everything in one go

Network switching doesn’t have to be a big bang approach. Many companies choose to carry it out in stages, first migrating the edge network and replacing the core network later down the line. The key here is to consider your long term plan. What systems are you running now? What do you need to achieve in the long run? And how are you going to get there? As long as the process has been properly thought out, there’s no reason you need to invest in the full migration at one time. It might be worth considering a network audit to gain a complete picture of your estate. From here you can identify what needs upgrading now and what can be kept in place. You can even ascertain the value of your equipment and the best time to upgrade for maximum buy-back return.

6. Career path will be limited as a result

Many IT departments feel confident in the systems they currently use, and the career path their particular set of skills offers. Making the move towards a new operating system may feel like a step into the unknown, but the new skills learnt can only work to improve your employability. Knowledge of a standards-based system in particular, opens up a great number of new opportunities. A network migration could bring huge benefits in performance, costs and productivity through a single OS. Hardware.com has over 10 years of experience in networking and network migrations. And we offer a range of end-to-end services to assist you in the process. Visit our website to find out more about our demonstration facilities, pre-staging, project management and installation services.
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