I want to focus on one component of the “house” that affects the whole: the plumbing. The plumbing components of your home are not unlike the network to which all of your computing systems, data storage systems, user interface systems, and input/output devices connect.
Your plumbing carries water throughout your house, regulates the water pressure, carries wastewater out of your house, and releases it to the proper community system. Your network operates in much the same fashion, carrying and regulating data flow.
The odds are good your original network was designed more than five years ago. It was probably top of the line at the time it was installed, with plenty of bandwidth to handle the flow of data. Your applications responded to user input quickly.
However, over time, just as homeowners add new appliances or even whole wings to their homes, you added on to your network to support new business initiatives. And when you did so, if you’re like many business leaders I meet, you probably did not think much about the goals of your original network design, and how this new addition puts stress on your network beyond its initial capabilities.
Maybe you added virtualized computing (whether on premises or via the cloud) to your network, and attempted to drive application data at speeds it was never designed for. That would be like installing a high-capacity dishwasher in your kitchen. Or perhaps you added larger Internet connections to your network. All of a sudden, you’re attempting to move much more data across your network than it was designed for, creating bottlenecks that degrade application performance and the user experience. This would be akin to adding a Jacuzzi tub to your master bathroom, with its higher demand for water, and the need to drain a much larger volume of water than your plumber anticipated when he sized your drainage system.
I could go on with analogies, but I think you get the idea. The question you should be asking yourself now is this: What would Norm do if I asked him to build a sunroom on the west side of my house with solar panels to warm the water for my new 10-person hot tub? Or: What should I be focusing on as I move our CRM system to the cloud by deploying Salesforce.com?
Both of these questions point to a need to assess the state of your current network to determine if it is capable of providing the new functionality you are looking to deploy. You should be focusing on your network’s capacity and capabilities before you begin deploying additional technology.
Said another way, before you spend the big money on bringing Norm and his team in to remake your house, spend a relatively little amount of money needed to assess your existing network. Make sure that you have designed, deployed, and are managing a network with the functionality, capability, and capacity you need for the next five to seven years.
And if you find that your network needs a redesign or a simple refresh, complete that upgrade, and thoroughly test the new network – before you deploy new technology across it.
Save Norm and his team the trouble of discovering that your “old house” needs an upgrade to its base components before you can relax in your hot tub.
This article originally appeared on the Netcraftsmen blog.