Network scalability refers to how well a network can handle sudden changes in workload brought about by sudden spikes or drops in the volume of data it processes. If, for instance, you went on a massive hiring spree and upped your staff count from 100 to 300 people in one day, your network can be described as very scalable if its performance can be tripled while you only double your network spend.
In a previous post, we tackled how to determine if your growing business needs a network upgrade. Now, let’s explore the tools and strategies you can use to build capacity into your network.
Determine your current and projected network requirements
Here, being data-driven helps to optimize costs and enable efficient network performance scaling.
Evaluate how many devices will require an internet connection
Do a historical review of how the count of internet-connected machines increases over time, then think about how many internet-connected devices you’ll need a year from now. Don’t forget to factor in Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as security cameras and production sensors. This will determine the type and count of routers you need to install in the office. As of this writing, business-grade wireless routers can connect up to 250 devices to the internet, whereas wired/ethernet connections are only able to support between one and four devices per router.
Calculate bandwidth requirements
Use bandwidth monitoring tools to study how your network resources are being utilized, then use your projected device count to calculate how much bandwidth your staff will need in the future. For instance, if you tend to rely on Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and video streaming, you may require several times more bandwidth to scale and future-proof your business.
Factor in other hardware considerations
Networking hardware takes up physical space and consumes electrical power. If your current location doesn’t have enough space for all the new hardware coming in or does not offer backup power in case of outages, then you’ll need to move to a place that does.
Another network component to consider is cabling. Hire a managed IT services provider (MSP) with network cabling installation experience — they know the perfect cables that can support your future needs and have the expertise necessary to build setups that are free of tripping hazards and other safety risks. If your organization is moving physical locations, it’s particularly important to address current and future cabling needs; they’re much easier and faster to implement before all the desks and partitions are in place!
Figure out how to support your growing infrastructure
Growing your business requires focusing on delivering your value proposition. If you take on network management yourself, you’ll likely only be able to address IT concerns as they happen and fall behind as your network grows and your problems increase. Save yourself the headache by having an MSP proactively monitor and troubleshoot network issues and security problems.
Have one comprehensive network management tool
Networking solutions tend to be loosely knit patchworks of disparate products that have different or conflicting requirements and dependencies. These make the solutions expensive to maintain and prone to breaking down, especially when the time for expanding the network arrives.
To set up a scalable network, consult with an MSP about implementing an all-in-one network management solution.
Lease networking hardware and software
The pace at which technology becomes obsolete is accelerating. This makes purchasing your own hardware and software harder and harder to justify with each passing quarter, yet to remain competitive, you have to use the best tools available. To mitigate tech costs, you’ll want to lease your networking machines (a.k.a. Infrastructure-as-a-Service or IaaS) and subscribe to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) instead.
With IaaS, you can spread the cost of using machines over time, end up paying less than the total cost of those machines during the lease period, and even trade up when new tech is released. SaaS also lets you spread the cost of using software (as opposed to having to pay for an expensive lifetime license in one go) as well as enjoy continuous updates, upgrades, and technical support from the developer.
Scale out instead of up
If your networking vendor only lets you transfer from one service module (called a “switch”) to another that matches your required capacity, drop that vendor and go to one that lets you use multiple switches instead.
A switch is like a faucet: just like how a large faucet lets more water flow compared to a small faucet, a high-capacity switch can handle greater volumes of network traffic over small switches. The problem with the vendor that limits you to one switch is that you can’t exceed that vendor’s highest-capacity switch. And when your only switch fails, your entire network suffers costly downtime.
On the other hand, the vendor that lets you use many small switches can let you increase or decrease the number of switches as your capacity requirements change. Furthermore, if one small switch falters, it’ll be just one among many. The drop in network performance will only be minimal and temporary.
Your growing business requires a network that can keep up with it — and an IT partner to build and manage that network for you. Let XBASE Technologies Corporation be that IT partner. Our Exponentially Better™ IT services help countless businesses reach unprecedented heights — reach out to us to learn how we can do the same for you.
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