Best Practices and Pitfalls of Network Upgrades

Upgrading your network infrastructure is not something to be taken lightly, it requires careful planning and execution. You need to approach this with a clear mind and a solid strategy.

First things first, you need to evaluate your current network infrastructure. Identify the weaknesses and bottlenecks that are slowing down your network. Look at your network traffic patterns and determine where the traffic is heaviest. This will help you understand where you need to upgrade your infrastructure.

Next, you need to set a clear goal for the upgrade. What do you want to achieve with this upgrade? Is it to increase network speed, reduce downtime, or improve security? Once you have a clear goal in mind, you can start evaluating the different technologies and solutions available to you.

When selecting new technologies and solutions, keep in mind your budget and your timeline. You don’t want to overspend or delay the upgrade unnecessarily. Look for solutions that offer the best value for your money and that can be implemented in a reasonable timeframe.

Finally, make sure you have a solid plan for implementation and testing. You don’t want to disrupt your network or cause downtime during the upgrade. Make sure you have a backup plan in case something goes wrong. Leveraging Broadband Bonding appliances in your network unlocks seamless network upgrades including built-in network backups. We will talk more about this later.

Like any project planning is where it is all at. When planning a network infrastructure upgrade, there are several key goals that should be included in the plan. The list of goals and their importance may depend on your business and specific needs, but here are some of the candidates to consider:

  • Improved network performance: One of the primary goals of a network infrastructure upgrade is to improve network performance. This can include increasing network speed, reducing latency, and improving network reliability. Broadband bonding solutions have been a great solution for improving network performance. Since broadband bonding enables the ability to mix and match various carrier networks within a multi-WAN framework, this will unlock your network infrastructure to support gradual addition of more WAN resources over time as needed, without disrupting existing network operations.
  • Enhanced network security: With the increasing threat of cyber attacks, network security should be a top priority. Upgrading your network infrastructure can help you implement stronger security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention systems, and encryption.
  • Scalability: Your network infrastructure should be able to grow and adapt to the changing needs of your organization. Upgrading your infrastructure should allow for easy scalability and expansion as your organization grows.
  • Simplified management: A complex network infrastructure can be difficult to manage and maintain. Upgrading your infrastructure can simplify network management, making it easier to monitor and troubleshoot network issues. Network architectures that are based on SD-WAN will support centralized and simplified network management, so should be on top of your list when adding new capabilities to your network.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Needless to say, any infrastructure upgrade should be cost-effective and offer a good return on investment. The plan should include an analysis of the costs associated with the upgrade and a strategy to minimize expenses while still achieving the desired goals.

Planning and implementation of a network infrastructure upgrade requires collaboration and input from various stakeholders in the organization. The following are some key personnel who should be involved in the planning process:

  • IT team: The IT team, including network administrators and IT support staff, will be responsible for implementing and managing the upgraded network infrastructure. They should be involved in the planning process to ensure that the upgrade aligns with the organization’s IT strategy and is feasible from a technical standpoint.
  • Business stakeholders: Representatives from different business units should be involved in the planning process to ensure that the upgrade aligns with the organization’s overall goals and objectives. They can provide input on how the upgraded network infrastructure will support their business operations and identify any potential roadblocks.
  • Security team: Network security is a critical aspect of any infrastructure upgrade, and the organization’s security team should be involved in the planning process to ensure that the upgraded network infrastructure is secure and compliant with any relevant regulations or industry standards.
  • Finance team: The finance team should be involved in the planning process to ensure that the upgrade is financially feasible and aligns with the organization’s budget and financial goals.
  • External consultants: Depending on the complexity of the upgrade, the organization may need to engage external consultants or vendors to provide expertise and support during the planning and implementation process.

By involving these key stakeholders in the planning process, the organization can ensure that the upgraded network infrastructure meets the needs of the business while being technically feasible, financially viable, and secure.

Maintaining normal network operations during an infrastructure upgrade is critical to minimize downtime and ensure that the business can continue to operate smoothly. Here are some strategies for maintaining normal network operations during an upgrade:

  • Plan the upgrade carefully: Before the upgrade, plan the process in detail, including the scope of the upgrade, the sequence of steps, and contingency plans in case something goes wrong. Ensure that everyone involved in the upgrade understands the plan and their roles and responsibilities.
  • Implement redundancy: Implementing redundancy can help ensure that network operations can continue even if a component or device fails during the upgrade. Redundancy can be achieved by implementing redundant devices, using backup power supplies, and ensuring that network traffic can be rerouted if necessary.
  • Schedule the upgrade during off-peak hours: Scheduling the upgrade during off-peak hours can minimize the impact on normal network operations. For example, if the organization operates on a Monday-to-Friday schedule, the upgrade could be scheduled for a weekend or a holiday.
  • Perform the upgrade in stages: Performing the upgrade in stages can help minimize disruption to normal network operations. For example, the upgrade could be performed on one section of the network at a time, with each section being tested and verified before moving on to the next.
  • Communicate with users: Keeping users informed about the upgrade can help manage expectations and minimize frustration. Communicate the schedule and any potential disruptions to users, and provide guidance on how they can continue to access the network during the upgrade.

By following these strategies, organizations can minimize disruptions to normal network operations during an infrastructure upgrade, ensuring that the business can continue to operate smoothly throughout the process.

When planning a network infrastructure upgrade, there are several common mistakes that organizations should avoid:

  • Insufficient planning: One of the biggest mistakes is not planning the upgrade thoroughly enough. Insufficient planning can result in unexpected issues, delays, and additional costs. Before the upgrade, ensure that you have a clear plan in place that takes into account all the technical, business, and financial aspects of the upgrade.
  • Lack of testing: Another common mistake is not testing the upgraded infrastructure thoroughly enough before deploying it in production. Testing helps identify issues early on and allows you to make any necessary adjustments. Ensure that you test the upgraded infrastructure in a controlled environment before deploying it in production.
  • Poor communication: Poor communication with stakeholders and end-users can lead to confusion and frustration. Ensure that you communicate the upgrade schedule, any potential disruptions, and the expected benefits of the upgrade clearly and frequently.
  • Underestimating the impact of the upgrade: An infrastructure upgrade can have a significant impact on network operations, and it’s important to plan accordingly. Underestimating the impact of the upgrade can lead to unexpected downtime, lost productivity, and increased costs. Ensure that you have a plan in place to minimize the impact of the upgrade on network operations.
  • Not considering the long-term: When planning an infrastructure upgrade, it’s important to consider the long-term implications. The upgrade should be scalable and adaptable to meet future business needs. Failing to consider the long-term implications can result in the need for additional upgrades and expenses down the road.

By avoiding these common mistakes and following best practices, organizations can ensure a successful network infrastructure upgrade that meets their business needs and improves network performance, security, and reliability.

In conclusion, upgrading your network infrastructure is a critical decision that requires careful planning and execution. Evaluate your current infrastructure, set clear goals, select the right technologies and solutions, and plan your implementation carefully. With the right approach, you can upgrade your network infrastructure successfully and enjoy the benefits of a faster, more reliable, and more secure network.

 

Jay Akin, Mushroom Networks, Inc. 

Mushroom Networks is the provider of Broadband Bonding appliances that put your networks on auto-pilot. Application flows are intelligently routed around network problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss. Network problems are solved even before you can notice.

https://www.mushroomnetworks.com

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