upgrade network There’s no getting around it. At some point it’ll be necessary to upgrade network—and that means downtime.
Minimizing downtime is a priority on any upgrade network, and it can be tricky. If your system is utilized 24/7 and runs mission-critical applications, it’s essential to carry out the project with almost no disruption. This may mean working within production windows of a few hours per day, or with no absolute downtime at all.
Despite an obsession for costing downtime per minute—or per second—it’s a myth that the dollar cost of an outage is the most important impact of a network upgrades.
No matter the size of your network and your downtime challenges, you can upgrade network seamlessly. Here are our tips about upgrading your network when downtime is at a premium.
Prioritize planning and design: upgrade network
A key component of a successful network upgrade is planning. It’s imperative to be thorough, and not rush the planning, scoping and design phase, or you may pay for it with issues down the road. We’ve all heard the carpenter’s advice; measure twice, cut once.
As a first step, the existing setup needs to be examined and documented — everything from physical locations and cable diagrams through to what applications run on the network, and how it is accessed and used.
Once the current setup is understood, the new solution can be designed in detail, and decisions made about the new topology, connectivity speeds, and hardware.
The planning must be ongoing in parallel to project kick-off as your network infrastructure is constructed. When thinking about your deployment plan, it’s always preferable to carry out a phased rollout — use one department, building or campus as a pilot project to iron out any glitches before rolling out to the rest of the organization.
- Stay on top of security
It’s vital that security measures are in place for the new network and during rollout, to avoid opening loopholes and exposing entry point vulnerabilities.
It’s also important to have a rollback strategy planned out before you start upgrading. Plan a way to rollback each step if necessary. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use it, but it’s far better than to be left scrambling to fix a problem afterward.
- Move fast with precise project management
With so many moving parts in a network upgrade project, expert project management is vital to keep scheduling and timetables on track.
Project management involves juggling the triple constraints — cost, scope, and time. A change in one affects at least one of the other two and that needs to be managed to avoid scope creep, shifting schedules, and cost blowout.
Take a flexible approach to juggle staff availability, equipment requisition, and confirming when and what you need to achieve in your production window.
- Have your hardware ready to go
Order your equipment—switches, cabling, wireless access point—well ahead of time. That gives you a window to assemble and test before deployment.
Work with trusted and credible vendors and know how everything should work (and where it’s going) before deployment starts. When you’re in the middle of a critical network upgrade, your IT services provider should be able to access premium support from their equipment partners. Pulse Tech are a premium partner with Dell, Microsoft, Acronis, and other vendors.
- Go live with prior testing
No upgrade will be without issues—even as simple as an IP conflict—and immediate support will head off further problems.
Test all live connections and critical applications before giving the project the all-clear.
- Keep communicating
Communication across a range of stakeholders can make or break an upgrade network project. And the higher the stakes, the more important it is to keep everyone talking.
Encourage stakeholders to own the project — their buy-in is crucial to the success of the upgrade network.
Network upgrades affect every user. Involve users in the planning phase to understand what systems are critical and how they use the network. After the upgrade, make sure any changes are documented and communicated to the users — if the way they log in has changed, they need to know before access becomes urgent.
- Inhouse IT staff
The new system needs to be thoroughly documented and handed over to the staff responsible for supporting the network infrastructure and users. They may need extra training to support new hardware or software.
Get it done with our help
Pulse Tech offers complete solutions for upgrade network tailored to your business size, Line of Business software requirements and future goals. Call us today for a complimentary assessment.