Upgrade your network to see you through the next 18-24 months. Upgrades intended to last less than that amount of time will be outdated almost before they are complete. The future beyond 24 months is too unpredictable.

Under no circumstances should you claim that no further upgrades will be

required for more than two years.

The networking industry is changing too fast to make such dangerous assertions.

Whenever possible, upgrade your cabling infrastructure universally. For example, if you’re going to have to upgrade high-speed segments from Category 3 or 5 to Category 6 cable, go ahead and upgrade your whole network to Category 6. The incremental cost of upgrading cable is fairly low, and having a versatile cabling infrastructure will save you time and money in the future.

Upgrade the busiest 20 percent of your network. The 80-20 rule usually applies in networking as well as other business areas, so upgrading the top 20 per cent of bandwidth starved segments should cover most of your problem areas.

The cost of equipment is probably the first and most obvious expense related to installing a high-speed network. What

may not be so obvious, however, are the many costs directly and indirectly related to installing new hardware. The following outlines the equipment and related costs you will have to consider.

High-speed networking is not cheap, it’s not easy, and consequently it should not be entered into lightly without careful planning and allocation of resources.

Therefore, before you launch into an implementation project, it is recommended that you:

Determine exactly which segments will benefit from a high-speed protocol.

Carefully estimate the costs of converting to a high-speed protocol.

To help you “put a pencil” to these potential expenses, the major cost components of a high-speed network are outlined in the following article.

Before you can estimate costs, you’ll need to determine which segments of your network you want to upgrade.This can be your most difficult planning task, because you’ll want to implement high-speed networking widely enough to provide you with adequate bandwidth for the foreseeable future, but not implement any more than you’ll really need during that time because of the high costs associated with it. Here are a few guidelines to help you develop a good scope for your network conversion project.

When upgrading servers, be sure to contact your NOS (Network Operating System) vendor to find out exactly which network adapters and drivers are fully certified for the version of the NOS you now have. Remember, high-speed networking is relatively new, so the version of the NOS you currently have installed may not support high-speed protocols. If it doesn’t, a NOS upgrade will be in order. Furthermore, a new version of the operating system – or even a high-speed NIC driver – may require other hardware upgrades, such as increased memory or disk space. Be sure to ask your vendors about system hardware requirements, and figure any upgrades into your cost estimate.

The number of hubs you require depends on two things:

How many ports you will be converting to a high-speed protocol.

The port density of the hubs you want to purchase.

If you are purchasing stackable hubs, the smallest unit you can buy is a hub. Note that some stackable hubs require separate terminators/interface cards, so be sure to include the cost of these terminators in your estimate.

If you have purchased or are planning to purchase a chassis-based unit, the smallest unit will be a chassis module.

In either case, be sure to include the cost of special cables and connectors required to attach the high-speed ports to your existing network.

James Donovan is the strategy director of connectivity solutions at Avaya.

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