10 Important Questions to Ask When Considering a Network Upgrade

Updated: April 30, 2009

As businesses expand and change, they may outgrow their existing networks and require an upgrade. Since network upgrades tend to be long-term investments, it is important to plan for future growth while still addressing current needs. In order to meet this objective, proper planning must be done before the first piece of new equipment is purchased. Be sure to consider the below issues when your company is planning an upgrade.

1. The Number of Users and the Types of Equipment: How many network users, printers and servers will the network support? Be sure to include anticipated growth of new users and devices over the next 12 months at the minimum.

2. Types of Growth Expected: Will the company be adding new users to an existing office? Is the business planning a remote office? Consider possible mergers, acquisitions and other factors that can change the nature of the current office space.

3. Current Internet Connectivity: How does the business connect to the Internet? Does the ISP or the company own the equipment? If the company upgrades its connectivity, it may need to get the equipment to enable this improvement.

4. Application Requirements: What applications does the network need to operate? It is especially important to identify the requirements of voice and video applications . These applications often require special services from an ISP in order to maintain an acceptable quality of service.

5. Existing Network Infrastructure and Layout: How many devices are currently on the network? How are they physically laid out? Is cabling running all over the floor, hidden in walls or threaded through the ceiling? When buying equipment, you must take physical infrastructure into account, as well as future plans for new services.

6. New Services Required: What new services will be required now or in the future? If the network will have to accommodate a remote office, for instance, consider a VPN (virtual private network) connection. VoIP and video conferencing are common applications that your business may want to add in the future. These services should be taken into account when you are designing a network upgrade.

7. Security and Privacy: Does your company currently have a firewall in place? Today's Integrated Services Routers incorporate the features of stand-alone firewalls, saving space and simplifying complexity. It may be time to ditch the extra hardware.

8. Wireless Requirements: Your business may want to upgrade a wired network or replace it with a wireless one . Or the company may want a combination of wired and wireless technology. How big is the area that your wireless network must cover? Each wireless access point has a limited range that is affected by the physical characteristics of the area to be covered.

9. Reliability and Uptime Considerations: What is the real cost of downtime to the company? How much downtime can the business tolerate before incurring financial losses? Maintaining 100 percent uptime is extremely expensive and impractical. You have to decide, in discussion with all stakeholders, how much reliability the company can afford.

10. Budget Constraints: What is the budget for the network upgrade? System performance, reliability and scalability are all affected by budget considerations. You will have to make trade-offs among these factors. A complete cost-benefit analysis should be performed to determine what features and services are most valuable to the business right now and which must be postponed.

Featured Research
  • [Infographic] 8 Common Pain Points UC Eliminates

    Every company has moments of frustration, it is when these moments become extended periods of inefficiency, or pain points, where we start to see loss in productivity and employee morale. What truly sets a successful business apart from those of its competitors, is how they take these pain points and use them as opportunities to improve upon procedures and systems to eliminate pain points and move beyond what was the status quo. more

  • Go VoIP and Go Green

    You may be looking to switch to VoIP because of the cost benefits that it will bring your company, but did you know that it is also FAR BETTER than traditional phone systems for the environment as well? With environmental impact being at the forefront of both consumer and business minds, it is essential that business decisions are made now based on economic AND ecological impact. more

  • eGuide: Comparing UC Vendors

    Changing your company’s business communications solution is an investment in time and money that will touch everyone in your organization. A successful unified communications (UC) deployment should streamline everyone’s work flow, simplify IT operations and deliver a lowered total cost of operations. Your company deserves nothing less. more

  • Getting More from Your VoIP System

    Too many businesses fall into the trap of setting up their VoIP as a "plug and play" and getting to work. However, we have found that this thinking only leads to businesses failing to get the most out of their VoIP experience. We have put together an in-depth guide that will walk you through 15 easy steps to get more out of your system. more

  • Making Your Phone System Work

    Deciding what to do about a legacy phone system can be difficult. The advantages of modern systems like VoIP are well-documented, but the switch can still be resource intensive. Updating your old system is usually the better decision, but circumstances often make this impossible. Fortunately, there are other ways to improve and tweak an existing system to enjoy better performance. more