Remodeling The Network

So, let me share with you a little about my house. I live in California and bought near the top of the real estate market. I have a small, charming 1950s colonial in a nice neighborhood. But like many older homes, I got other things that I didn’t want, such as a pink kitchen. I’m not joking. The sink, floor, walls and the countertops were pink. Not my idea of House Beautiful. The floors were pink striped linoleum. The walls had square linoleum glued on them and the counters were pink tiles with flowers.

Why am I giving you  all of this horrible imagery about my house that I am now probably paying more for than it is worth and what does my pink house have to do with your network? Well, I’ll tell you.

Consider the outdated network

I bought this house because the good outweighed the bad. You did the same with your voice and data network. In addition, through business changes, you may have consolidated with other companies or locations that don’t work so perfectly with what you have. In other words -the equivalent of a pink kitchen.  It may work but you have a vision for something better.

So what do you do?

If you are lucky, you have a big budget and will just go ahead and tear everything out and remodel your network to make it look like the network equivalent of the kitchen of your dreams, complete with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops.

But if your budget is not so big, there are too many variables to make infrastructure changes all at once.  You have to consider what your company wants and needs, what your clients demand, and the technology changes that we are seeing in communications. It’s a little overwhelming.

Upgrade a little at a time

If your voice network has a pink kitchen, that cosmetic change could mean adding an easy value-add service to your business such as IP Toll Free that enhances what you are using, but you don’t have to make significant changes to incorporate it. Or add VPN to your data network and allow business to take place practically anywhere you want. In other words, make a change that works with what you have and takes you into the future.

Next thing was to eradicate the pink floor. This was a little more expensive so I had to save for it and really think about it. I mean, you don’t want to replace pink with equally soon to be outdated – green, or you will be resigned to constantly making changes.

Once you pick your protocol and platform, think of your core network as the foundation of the rest of your communications. The tricky part is to invest in something that is going to last. I had to look at the trends, just like you do with your network.  If you are still using PBX and PRI trunks for voice, you might want to take a good look at SIP trunking. It is a great foundation in that it is easier to manage your service, you can get more bandwidth and functionality, and like a good foundation, it is the platform for many other applications such as unified communications and a fully integrated network.  Same goes for data. If you haven’t already done so, a move to MPLS or Ethernet will take you well into the future.

Go for impact

When you make changes to your network, try to focus on where you can make the most impact and how that can be an investment and not just a change. Every time you touch your network, it should be to improve it and not just maintain it.

When you are upgrading, it isn’t always like for like. With the changes in technology, you want to look at how traffic is flowing through your whole network.  Look for where potential bottlenecks are in your servers and when you expand, keep disaster recovery in mind so that you can care for both things at once.  Also, if you can consolidate traffic, that will help as well.

Finally, after years of patiently making upgrades to my pink kitchen, the pink is gone. I wasn’t visionary or even methodical in updating the kitchen; yet slowly, I was able to transform it into a modern, efficient space with nice countertops and a normal stainless steel sink.

Are you slowly upgrading your existing network? What changes have worked out well? What advice would you give others who are gradually “remodeling” to incorporate the latest technologies and trends?
Sybil Fitzpatrick Lead Product Marketing Communications AT&T About Sybil