May 14 2013

How to Tell: Five Questions to Ask About the Network

Is your network ready for what's next?

Is it time to refresh the network? Here are the questions that Cuyahoga Community College reviewed before making the leap.

How old is the gear?

Some of Tri-C's servers were 8 years old, which means they were not only more likely to fail, but also near the end of their support life cycle.

How large is the network?

Odds are, there are a lot more devices accessing the network than there were just two or three years ago. The explosion of mobile devices on campus can strain network bandwidth and require an increase in the number of Wi-Fi access points.

What other systems are connected?

IP-based phones, security cameras and other critical systems add to the network load as well as the need for redundancy in case of ­failure. Moving from local software to cloud-based services can boost bandwidth requirements, as can an increase in the use of streaming video inside classrooms.

How cohesive is the network?

If the network has been built over time, IT is likely managing a hodgepodge of devices from different vendors. Standardizing on a single supplier for core network gear can simplify management and ease support.

Is the network future-proofed?

Adding new users or employees compounds all of the issues listed above. But even if human capital remains stable, the amount of data they use will continue to grow. Mobile data alone is growing by more than 50 percent per year, according to ABI Research. So if there's excess capacity now, in two or three years it may be gone.

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