Future-Proofing Your Network Infrastructure: Scalability and Flexibility Considerations
If companies learned anything during the pandemic, it’s that future-proofing your network is essential. How many companies experienced issues when all of their staff who were now working from home connected to their companies’ servers and had the system slow to a crawl? Every business that experienced this never thought to future-proof their business.
What is future-proofing? It’s planning for situations that haven’t occurred yet. This stops them from ever happening. The best network infrastructure considers scalability and flexibility. What does that mean? Scalability involves how well a network can handle increased loads without the performance being impacted. Flexibility is how well a network handles change.
A company’s networking needs to be prepared for anything. Your office staff’s workload and demand on the network could double in the next few months as your business grows. Future-proofing your network infrastructure is the smartest way to grow, but how do you do that?
What Does Future-Proofing Entail?
Before you do anything, you need to assess your current network. Jot down a list of what you have, what it does, and what it doesn’t do. The things it doesn’t do are the things you want to incorporate as you plan your upgraded network infrastructure that considers your future needs.
You may need to backtrack to your business plans. Are you expecting to grow your business’s volume and staff over the next months or years? Or, are you as big as you plan to get? Future-proofing anticipates and plans for these changes.
What kind of traffic are you expecting? A financial company needs to have heightened security against breaches, ransomware, and other threats. If your network isn’t prepared to handle and extinguish those threats right away, there’s a problem. And breaches, hacks, and other security threats are constantly changing. A network that’s prepared for the future is in better shape.
Why is this beneficial? It lowers your costs. If your employees cannot connect to the network from their home office, you may have to send an IT support person to their home to figure it out. During those hours, you’re paying workers and they’re sitting around unable to do anything. It’s wasting your money.
If your network crashes repeatedly during new client meetings, that client may decide you’re unreliable and choose your competitor. You’ve lost potential income. You don’t want that to happen, so you have to factor in future needs when designing or upgrading your network’s routers and switches
As mentioned, scalability focuses on how well a network balances increased workloads without impeding performance. If you have new employees to add to your network, you need to be sure your devices, applications, and system can handle the increase without crashing from the added demand. That’s scalability.
How do you achieve scalability? Add more nodes, such as routers, servers, and switches, to your network. That’s known as scale out.
The other option is to scale up. Scale up occurs when you upgrade your current networking hardware to newer, more powerful components. You could get switches with more memory, or look for servers that process information at higher speeds. You could also upgrade to the latest technology to have everything upgraded and ready for your future needs.
Which is best? This is why you needed to look at network visualization and how your current system is. Where is it lacking? Networking strategies are never one-size-fits-all. It’s the best way for your company, and that might be completely different from another company in your building.
If you need to increase traffic, it’s best to scale out. If you need faster, improved performance on your existing equipment, it’s best to scale up.
Now that you have a better idea of future-proofing through scalability, it’s time to move to flexibility. You need a flexible network that is easy to make changes to when needed.
You need to implement virtualization or software-designed networking. Network virtualization is a method where you virtualize the resources or pathways your network uses. This allows you to isolate applications for heightened security or scalability.
Imagine if you can run multiple applications at once without freezing up computers or causing systems to crash. Your system works fluidly for everyone who needs access. Network virtualization is often aided by network automation.
Software-defined networking allows you to separate the network’s control functions from packet forwarding. This makes it easy to customize your networking equipment and functions to support your company’s needs as you scale up and down as it becomes necessary.
Cloud computing is another consideration as you can build cloud-based networking plans in a public cloud, hybrid, or a combination of the two. Your applications and data are safe in the network that uses virtual firewalls, routers, and software that manages bandwidth and networks.
Dynamic routing is useful as your network components continually analyze traffic and determine the best path for traffic that’s entering the network. It can boot out any threats and prioritize virtual business meetings over email inquiries until traffic slows.
Network segmentation is another option as it allows a network to segment traffic into smaller subsets. This makes it easier to create pathways that prevent hang-ups and problems with an overworked network.
The goals of all of these are to be flexible with the current demand and adjust so that no one experiences slowed speeds, lost packages, and dropped calls or video conferences.
Suppose you have a call center with three shifts. There are more workers during the day because demand is higher. That demand means that you can’t have VoIP phones, chat support, email support, and customer account access conflicting. All of the software needs to work fluidly no matter how many workers are in the building and taking calls.
Tap Into the Expertise of a Network Consultant
Make sure your network is ready to handle future challenges but do it with an eye on your budget. Don’t pay top dollar for equipment when you can get it for a fraction of the price.
BrightStar Systems has a vast selection of pre-owned network equipment from Arista, Cisco, and Juniper. Everything is fully refurbished and tested to ensure it’s like new, and you benefit from savings of up to 95%.
We also purchase used network equipment. While upgrading your networking equipment does cost money, you can also save by making money back on unneeded networking equipment. You can save even more by selling us used equipment that no longer fits your networking needs. Our networking specialists are here to help you decide how to design a future-proof network. Give us a call or reach us online to get a free quote.