Companies that are either installing or expanding a product solution must try to find a balance between cost and connectivity. In todays economic climate, every business is looking for places to reduce their expenses. Yet, every company also wants to be able to expand quickly. With a little knowledge, and perhaps some guidance from the IT department, business leaders can confidently decide how to balance budget concerns with connectivity capabilities.
Where to Cut Costs in a Network
Most small businesses will never use the full capacity of high-end network equipment. Many companies are able to get by with lower bandwidth and less Quality of Service (QoS) equipment than some installation technicians would suggest. These are two areas where costs can be reduced, without noticeably compromising a networks performance.
Access switches, which provide access to the network, come with the capability to handle 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps speeds. However, setting up a 10 Gbps access point costs approximately five times as much as creating a 1 Gbps point. In many situations, setting up a 10 Gbps access point is overkill. Corporations can greatly reduce their networking expenses by opting for 1 Gbps access points. If greater bandwidth is needed later, it is easy to upgrade a system.
Many vendors will suggest setting up both the server farm (where the network servers are located) and the network closets (access points for part of a building), with 10 Gbps speeds. A common reason given for doing this is to eliminate any bottlenecks, which might arise if a network has both 1 Gbps network closets and a 10 Gbps server farm.
Bottlenecks are highly unlikely, though, and 10 Gbps access points are twice as powerful as the average business needs during peak use. Users computers usually max out at 10 Megabits, and a switch can connect up to 48 users on it. Thus, even if a switch was fully loaded and every user was using their computers maximum power, only 5 Gbps would be needed. (48 users x 10 Mbps = 480 Mbps). This rarely occurs, and it does not justify paying for a network access point that can handle twice the bandwidth that this scenario would require.
Companies can also reduce their equipment costs by forgoing some quality of service (QoS) equipment. The most common situation where companies can save on QoS equipment is with voice over internet protocol systems (VoIP), such as phones handsets. In most VoIP setups, a computer is plugged into a phone, which is plugged into a switch. The phone handles all QoS needs, so the switch does not need to have this capability.
Costs Not Worth Cutting in a Network
Businesses can often safely reduce their IT costs by lowering a networks bandwidth and eliminating some QoS equipment, but companies should not try to cut their expenses by purchasing a non-managed switch. Access switches fall into two classes: managed and non-managed. Non-managed switches are less expensive, but they do not allow IT personnel to pinpoint network problems. With a managed switch, the specific port or cable causing problems can be quickly identified. Even though businesses might save a little up front by purchasing non-managed switches, cutting costs here will ultimately increase network downtime and require hours of IT employees time.
Businesses can often reduce their network costs by decreasing the bandwidth and eliminating some QoS devices, without impacting users experiences. However, companies should be willing to invest in managed switches. Installing these will help IT departments troubleshoot issues and keep the network running. Understanding how each of these aspect