IT Insight: Make time for a network refresh

Staying competitive in today’s business world requires forward thinking and planning. As your business grows, so must your network. To stay competitive and safe, to minimize your security risks, you must consider a network infrastructure upgrade, especially if you have not done so in the last five years. Many organizations simply “make do” with antiquated hardware, software, licensing and outdated network technology, risking downtime with outages as well as a data breach. Older networks were not built to support today’s workforce and speed nor to support the IoT (Internet of Things). The benefit of an upgrade far outweighs the cost and risks associated of hanging on to old technology.

What is at risk and why? The older your hardware and software are, the more vulnerable your network security is. After all, manufacturers rarely offer unlimited updates to components that are outdated. Using outdated network hardware and applications with no support creates vulnerabilities that can bring down your entire network, and even your business. Make sure that any key networking components have vendor maintenance, support, and updates to help protect your investment and maximize the term “timeframe” with which you can use these.

Upgrading your infrastructure allows for new hardware with less chance of failure. You will have access to a more robust, scalable network for future growth. You will spend less time maintaining your new network. Your upgraded network will react effectively to the latest network conversions. New infrastructure can be managed and will give alerts for potential failures or issues.

Using more current technology allows your staff to work more efficiently with fewer interruptions. Updated software enriches usability and customer-facing interface on those applications as well. Infrastructure upgrades provide simplified scalability for future growth. For instance, think about what has happened with adopting Wireless Technology over the past five years. We are now relying more on wireless to give us flexibility and access anywhere/anytime to do our work. Older access points do not support the new wireless signals or have the built-in security to keep your business safe.

Although infrastructure upgrades necessitate a financial investment, businesses can cut costs with virtualization and the Cloud allowing you to consolidate space and resources. Today’s work from anywhere environment demands mobile solutions and cloud-based applications that can overwhelm your older network. When you move your apps and business requirements to the Cloud, your infrastructure and Internet speed needs to be specified properly for the best possible user experience. Having delay and lags causes frustration and decreased productivity. Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a great option. Instead of a Capital Expense, consider this an Operational Expense.

Keep in mind that network upgrades can cause disruptions. Make sure you work with an IT advisor who can assess and plan with you. For instance, upgrades to an application impact only the users utilizing that. Run a parallel system-test, off-hours, with proper planning and vendor liaison support. This is key to a successful implementation. A network upgrade will often affect many more users. It is critical to use best practices when planning for your network upgrade, whether it is for a remote office switch or implementing the latest server upgrades.

These are a few things to consider: Make sure you are upgrading solutions that meet your business requirements. Establish what the user impact will be during and after the network upgrade. Often upgrades are done after hours or on the weekend when there is little impact to your business. That would be your most opportune time for such. Certainly, establish proper support for your upgrade afterwards. When in doubt, always rely on an expert in this field.

JoAnn Hodgdon is vice president and co-founder of Portsmouth Computer Group (PCGiT) with her husband David. PCG provides comprehensive managed IT services, business continuity, security, cloud computing and Virtual CIO services to their clients. You may reach her at or through