Is it time to explore a data center hosting solution?
For many small to midsize companies the argument for seeking the services of a data center provider can be compelling. Not only do these services reduce (or in many scenarios eliminate) the expenses associated with investing, maintaining and upgrading your IT infrastructure. You also benefit from the services and expertise of an in-house group of technicians whose central focus is the security, availability and maintenance of your applications and mission critical data.
Prevention is better than cure
We service our cars, boilers and bodies more regularly than we service our networks. A periodic network health check is vital. Today’s smart networks can cope with minor failures and carry on running, seemingly normally. But problems can proliferate until the system collapses. Anticipate problems by arranging service level agreements and regular health checks. Many faults are not hardware related but are due to congestion, address changes, configuration mismatches etc. Most maintenance contracts only cover hardware faults, so organize a troubleshooting schedule before the panic.
Know your network
Relatively stable or static parts of a network can often be forgotten until they fail. For example, cabling systems not being able to cope with network upgrades in speed. Or forgetting that updating the data network to the desktop might also involve upgrading the telephone system. Make sure the definition of your network includes cabling, mobile users, external services (such as the Internet), server hardware and software and desktop equipment, including printers and other peripherals. You won’t forget things if you register that the network is wide-ranging.
Build solid foundations
Cabling is your network foundation, don’t build it on a swamp. Despite the growth of wireless technologies, most businesses still rely on cabling to carry information. Poor design and a badly built DIY installation will result in costly down time. Beware of cables slung haphazardly under desks. It should be robust and versatile enough to offer universal usage to any local area network and voice or data transmission system. If a cabling system is designed, tested and installed properly it should have a lifetime of over ten years.
Keep your network invisible
At best users of a network will not know it exists. All data and applications appear as fast as if they were stored on the local desktop machine. Although the source might be Birmingham, England or Birmingham, Alabama. But to create an invisible network, the design, technology and capability of the network will need to be reviewed consistently to ensure it is in line with operational changes in the business. If more and more users are added as well as more and more bandwidth hungry applications, the network can collapse under the load. Senior management only becomes aware of the problem when the network keels over. A good networking strategy will make sure you don’t throttle the system as you expand. Use plug and play and stackable systems (i.e. make sure that you are not locked into one manufacturer’s products and you can mix and match). Networks should be able to cope with major company changes within hours rather than days.