Businesses function most efficiently when the technology they use is running smoothly. This means, for example, that sales team members can easily and securely log in to the corporate network from the road. From the moment an order is received until it is shipped, its status is easily accessible to anyone who needs it. And everyone at all company locations has access to a fast, stable internet connection
Underpinning all these systems is a robust, streamlined network infrastructure. To streamline your network infrastructure, you will need to understand the current bottlenecks and anticipate how your business’s demands for technology may change in the future. As you look at improving your network, you may also find opportunities to simplify or automate some of your business processes. Introducing new technology can significantly improve business operations
If your network needs an upgrade, how do you find the right resources to assess your needs, create a plan, and implement the new network?
It’s best to hire experts in network design and implementation. They can help you choose the right products, make sure they will work well together, and design a network for high performance and easy supportability. For a sophisticated network, it makes sense to hire one team to both design the network and build it.
You need a team with the experience to understand the limitations of your current network and the ability to plan and execute improvements. For a complex project, that team may include specialists in different areas, just as a home construction project requires architects, carpenters, plumbers and electricians.
As you assess the qualifications of potential providers, consider the standards and certifications for each aspect of your network infrastructure:
- Cabling. Just as a new home needs a solid foundation, a new network needs high-quality cabling connecting all its components, and the cabling needs to be installed properly. The TIA/EIA standards for cabling define both what type of cabling should be used and how it should be installed. Make sure any provider you consider adheres to these standards
- Switches. There are no specific standards or certifications for switches, which connect the devices on your network. One way you can assess whether a potential provider has the expertise to install switches is by looking for industry certifications such as CompTIA Network+ or Security+. These show what the certification holder understands best practices for implementing networks.
- Servers. Your network will need servers that can manage the data and processing requirements. Vendors generally establish their own certifications, so once you have selected a vendor, you can ask whether the team members are certified in that vendor’s technology.
- Storage. A solid network needs a storage system that supports the overall business needs. Storage companies offer certifications related to their products, and some courses on networking that are not vendor-specific will also give team members the background that they need.
- System administrators. Once the network is in place, you will need a system administrator to manage it: setting up accounts for new users, keeping current with updates, and solving problems. You may have in-house staff who can do this, or you may want to contract with an outside company whose employees are experienced system administrators. The makers of the commonly used operating systems offer certifications that can demonstrate expertise in this area.
- Help desk. Your users will need support to make sure they get the most out of your streamlined network. You may have an in-house help desk, or you may prefer to outsource this function to a vendor that can provide more hours or a higher level of support. If the other elements of the network are functioning well, of course, the help desk won’t be as busy.
Streamline network infrastructure
Assembling a team with the right skills to streamline a network isn’t easy, but focusing on these areas can help ensure your network upgrade goes smoothly. Any weak link can create problems with network performance: You may have substandard hardware or software, or you may have chosen network elements that don’t work well together.
CNS Partners employs technical staff members who hold at least one technical certification, and in many cases more. We've also tested different hardware and software combinations to ensure that recommend products work very well together.
You can identify service companies with the set of skills and experience to help your business improve its network – and therefore make your business operations run more efficiently. Because business processes are so closely tied to the network, it’s critical for the team you work with to upgrade your network to understand the specific needs and requirements of manufacturing companies.
Networking is just one element of a robust IT system. Download the eBook titled "Seven Key Factors for IT System Success" to learn more about improving your IT solution for better productivity that enables growth.