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How to Upgrade an Aging Network Infrastructure With Ease

When your enterprise network begins showing signs of age, it's time for an upgrade. Learn how to handle the task with minimal frustration and disruption.

An aging network is bad for business, customers, and anyone else who comes in contact with it. Yet many organizations hesitate to make the upgrades necessary to maintain optimal network performance, fearing the cost and possible service disruption.

What keeps businesses from upgrading their network infrastructure?

Until recently, it was possible to keep a legacy network infrastructure limping along with an acceptable cost versus performance trade-off. That's no longer generally true, however. "Mostly because the risk of failure is too great and the energy consumption is too high," says Kevin Sheehan, CTO of the Americas, with network automation firm Ciena. "In some cases, equipment is so old and spare parts so scarce that the infrastructure is no longer supportable." Despite the cost and performance drawbacks, many enterprises continue to rely on aging networks based on designs that were developed many years ago.

Yet advanced technologies, such as the cloud and artificial intelligence, as well as new business models, including remote and flexible work, have pushed those designs to the limit and beyond. "Now is the time to reset and create, challenge, validate, and document business and technical requirements that will serve as the foundation for the upgraded network," says William Perry, principal, US cloud innovation and engineering at business advisory firm PwC.

How to prepare for an infrastructure update

1. Conduct an audit

Any upgrade of an aging network infrastructure initiative should begin with a thorough audit of the network's existing state and a careful evaluation of currently available technologies. "What's required is an open, adaptive infrastructure that can provide high bandwidth on demand, with network and automation capabilities that can streamline service development and provisioning," Sheehan says.

2. Define the project scope

Defining the project's scope can be the most challenging step when planning a network upgrade. "With a clear definition, the client can assess whether to undertake a self-run project or outsource to service providers," says Rob Long, network advisory partner with technology research and advisory firm ISG.

Read the rest of this article on Network Computing.

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