A solid digital network infrastructure is fundamental for every company. Especially now, when data and applications are more and more located outside of the company walls, is connectivity of the utmost importance. If a certain connection was to be unavailable, it can immediately lead to either damages for the company or at least damage to its image. Using these tips, you can choose a solid infrastructure.
What exactly the network will be used for will decide to a great extent the choice of infrastructure. If you have an organisation that works with a lot of privacy sensitive data and company critical systems, high availability and reliability are of the utmost importance. Twin-datacenters that replicate data synchronously require different infrastructure from a system that only needs internet access and IP-telephony using an Ethernet WAN.
It is very important for your infrastructure to scale with your company, not only when your business is growing, but also when shrinking. Nobody knows what the future holds, so flexibility is crucial for a future-proof network. It is not easy to exactly define the bandwidth you’ll be needing because that is co-dependent of the number of users, whether applications are centralized or de-centralized, the required reaction speed per application and the dynamics within the company. It is important for you to find a medium that fits your needs so that during peak times users do not experience too much latency and you do not buy excessive bandwidth for regular use.
Whether high availability is a necessity can easily be decided with a simple calculation. How much does downtime cost your organisation? What sort of damage claims can your organisation expect should that happen? How many customers will you not be able to help, how many employees are not productive, has any damage been done to your company’s image? Subsequently you measure that amount against the cost of a redundant connection. In case of a redundant connection, you want two physically separated fiber optics connections. Best case scenario, the telecom supplier’s active equipment exists twice in the network so that one half of the equipment can go faulty without it affecting the network availability.
Choice of infrastructure is closely linked with security. Your own cable or pipe is the safest option but because of its high cost also one which can only be afforded by a few organisations. Encryption on the bottom layers in the OSI-model, using hardware keys, is also advisable. Also check the way the telecom supplier has installed its network. An underground welded network is safer than a patched network mostly above ground.
Freedom of choice
And finally, it is always good to know to understand how free you are in choosing services and service suppliers on your infrastructure. The freedom to choose your own internet access, IP-telephony, cloud services and IT services is always much better than depending on the telecom supplier’s products. An open network also makes it possible to order connectivity based on for example Ethernet VPN and to organise the IP layer with subnetworks.[ssbp]