How to Reduce Network Expenses

In the current economic slowdown, IT administrators are under constant pressure to build and maintain solid networks while every equipment purchase they make is scrutinised. Knowledge Centre contributor Paul Hooper offers five ways that IT staffs can build automated, secure networks that are energy-efficient and cost-effective.

An economic slowdown can mean that resources are constrained, IT staffs could be flat for the coming year and new equipment purchases will be scrutinised. These restraints weigh heavily on IT administrators who are under pressure to build great networks, yet still tighten up on expenses.

The following are five ways that organisations can tighten up on expenses from their network.

1. Automate

Labour-intensive network tasks such as setting up and handling a converged network can be automated, freeing up valuable time for IT administrators. Automation with intelligent software can help enterprises cope with a growing population of phones and devices that connect to the network edge. Operational automation can help efficiently complete moves, adds and changes with speed and accuracy. Also, automation for convergence helps to configure more advanced Quality of Service (QOS) and endpoint detection of IP handsets.

Additionally, through this automation, administrators should be able to automatically shut down IP telephones, cameras or WLAN access points at night, on weekends or over holidays—thus significantly reducing the power consumption of the devices. Other administration processes can also be automated, enabling quick, cost-effective and error-free moves, reinstallations and configuration changes to terminal devices.

2. Make use of integrated security

Organisations should expect a network to provide integrated security features that offer more control over users and devices. Unlike security appliances of the past that acted separately, built-in security software allows the network to participate in the security stance by detecting events at the network level, and then enforcing security policy across multiple network entities. Complete network solutions should perform consistent authentication of devices over either wired or wireless.

3. Consider wireless

A wireless network enhances the wired network due to its flexibility, thereby enabling work force mobility and a wider expanse of options for outfitting structures with high-performance network connectivity. The result can be increased productivity and often lower operational expenses.

Wireless LANs (WLANs) should be considered in certain situations such as temporary offices and short-term building leases which may house employees only for months rather than years. In these situations, there can be greater value in deploying wireless as opposed to running cable plant to every desk and conference room.

Furthermore, with the introduction of high-speed 802.11n WLAN technology, users will experience even higher performance—with fast Ethernet speeds delivered almost anywhere. This allows organisations to more confidently deploy mission-critical applications and communications while installing cable plant only where it is cost-effective to do so.

4. Save energy, save costs

Core Ethernet switches serve as the foundation for high-speed data, bandwidth-intensive enterprise applications, server farm aggregation and convergence. Operating on a 24/7 basis, the right core switches can support green initiatives and cost savings through low power consumption, as electricity is saved from more efficient operation and design. This can result in annual cost savings while promoting a greener environment with a reduced carbon footprint for organisations.

Enterprises that are seeking green IT solutions for the network LAN backbone, aggregation portion and for data server farms should review recent tests that report on the electrical power consumption of switches under various conditions and traffic loads.

5. Eliminate a layer

The concept of the two-tier network architecture plays into an IT organisation’s desire to simplify its infrastructure and reduce costs. A two-tier architecture decreases the total cost of network ownership, both in terms of capital and operating expenses. By collapsing network layers, the IT organisation needs fewer products with which to run the network. Fewer products mean lower costs of capital, implementation and training.

While the two-tier architecture represents a simplification of previous designs, it does not represent a compromise in terms of connection quality or network availability. As the name indicates, the two-tier architecture is a collapsing of layers into scalable network core and intelligent edge. Additionally, fewer products mean less management and greater ease of operations (such as software upgrades, troubleshooting), contributing to lower network operations costs.

Paul Hooper is Vice President and General Manager of the Volume Products Group at Extreme Networks. Paul, a 15-year veteran of the high tech industry, is responsible for the strategy, product development and business management for Extreme Networks’ Summit family of fixed configuration switches, the BlackDiamond 8800 family of modular switches, and wireless LAN and security solutions. Paul also serves as Extreme Networks’ executive sponsor for data center and enterprise LAN initiatives.

Prior to joining Extreme Networks, Paul served as Vice President of IT at myCFO, Inc., where he was responsible for myCFO’s enterprise applications and infrastructure. Paul has also held senior-level IT positions with JDS Uniphase, Netscape Communications and Sun Microsystems.