Work smarter to ensure your network upgrade goes off without a hitch.

May 09 2014

11 Tips for a Smarter Network Upgrade

Work smarter to ensure your network upgrade goes off without a hitch.

With more than 10 sites, ­serving tens of ­thousands of students and nearly 6,000 employees, Cleveland’s Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) is evolving to host a large and ­diverse ­communications network. Tri-C Network Services Director Peter Anderson recently shared several lessons he and his team learned when they tackled a massive, multiyear network upgrade. He passed along 11 tips for working smarter when it’s time for the next network refresh.

  1. Walk through each upgrade site, looking for things that might be in the way along with electrical problems, broken locks or anything that could hinder a quick and safe upgrade.
  2. Label every cable, power outlet, uplink and patch cable to prioritize (fire/safety/security).
  3. Investigate the best dates and times for an upgrade, across many departments. Involve the academic side early, and have open discussions about optimal times for the technicians. Explore creative ways to perform upgrades during normal hours and without downtime.
  4. Communicate possible downtime early. Don’t be afraid to change it later but, to avoid confusion, don’t send corrections back to back. Send final communications just before the upgrade.
  5. If spare hardware is available, test an upgrade. This will bring unexpected details to light, such as routing protocol changes or syntax changes between versions of code.
  6. Upgrade the IT department first, if possible.
  7. Check monitoring systems for trends that can lead to upgrade windows during normal hours.
  8. Back up all configurations. Test your backups.
  9. Preload as much of the configurations as possible. Watch out for changes since the last preload.
  10. Put two more sets of eyes on the configurations just before the upgrade.
  11. Put as much equipment in the upgrade location ahead of time as possible. Don’t waste time hauling pieces around during a maintenance window.