As the network evolves with a company, over time (configuration changes are made, new devices are added, some are completely forgotten) older devices become unstable and unsupported. This is a natural consequence due to competing priorities, staff turnover, and daily distractions. This ‘aging’ of the network can contribute to an unstable network and excessive time required to resolve issues if not properly maintained.
Left unchecked, the network can become convoluted due to server sprawl and ad hoc changes. This is a common situation for many companies and creates unnecessary IT support overhead, and inflates operating costs.
Fortunately, keeping the IT infrastructure fresh for its purpose is easy. Here are five tips that can help.
- Maintain Your Network Inventory
One of the main reasons for outdated network equipment is the lack of information about network content. After years of growth and rightsizing, staff turnover, updates and changes in IT support, organizations are likely to find they have some hardware or software that has long been long forgotten or is no longer in use.
If an older system is known to exist, but not fully understood, the default response may be to keep everything online, so IT Staff doesn’t have to worry about the negative and unpredictable consequences of not decommissioning these aged systems.
Keeping network documentation current is especially important when there are older systems and devices. Documentation should include a map of the network and all the discovered devices (including where and how they are connected to the network). The goal is to provide a real-time map and inventory of your network with complete visibility into the devices connected within your network. Including details like make, model, serial numbers, IP addresses, or physical switch ports of devices will improve the time to support, maintain, or troubleshoot your network systems.
- Replace Devices Near End of Life, or Out of Warranty
After obtaining a full inventory of network devices, it is time to browse and find devices that are approaching – or have already passed – end of life, warranties, or support agreements. Thanks to the full list of outdated devices, you can replace them before their performance starts to fade.
By building upon this information, we can create a roadmap and budget for replacing devices. This inventory provides the business justification for device updates and builds hardware refreshes into IT budgets and minimizes surprise or emergency costs. Thanks to the proactive identification of devices your business can now get ahead of the problem and prevent downtime.
Through this process, clients rest easy knowing their equipment is regularly refreshed to keep pace with business demands and documented for your technology success.
- Scrap and Dispose of Unnecessary Equipment
Sometimes migrating or decommissioning old devices is more difficult and costly than setting up a new one. For example, if you want to expand the capacity of the network, it can be easier to just add more switches or access points, rather than replacing existing devices. Make sure to weigh the risks and costs of replacement. But always remember that best practices are to remove unused or aged equipment (once properly decommissioned). To avoid cluttering your environment and minimize future potential issues (extended troubleshooting time or someone accidentally re-using the discarded hardware), make sure to remove discarded equipment form the Server Room and use eWaste facilities.
- Beware of Security Vulnerabilities
For the remaining devices, it is important to ensure that systems are running on the latest available software and firmware versions. If outdated versions are used and no errors are reported, a huge vulnerability may be created within your network and could go undetected until an unwanted breach occurs.
Consider implementing tools or partner with a service provider that can help you quickly identify devices and versions of software, which will allow you to correct or update appropriately and quickly if/when vendors issue vulnerability warnings. Keeping your network devices current and updated will help to assure a healthy, secure, and reliable network.
- Migrate to the Cloud When Possible
In today’s world, most organizations have realized the benefits of moving some (or all) of their business applications to the cloud. While moving to the cloud can bring many benefits (simplifying onsite resource requirements, better security, performance, or scalability), it may not be feasible for some companies, nor is it necessarily cheaper. Every company needs to evaluate the risks and rewards, costs, and benefits for their specific business requirements.
Keep in mind that moving services and operations to the cloud does not mean all your assets are optimized, secured, and current. You still need to ensure that on-premise systems and any systems used to connect to the cloud are reliable, secured, and kept updated.
Need Better Support Options for Your Business?
Clare Computer Solutions continues assisting businesses throughout the Bay Area, during these trying times. Is your business assessing what support options are available for your team, talk to one of our experts today? Many businesses believed their budgets couldn’t contain full-time support, but with NetCentral, your business can begin doing more with less – Contact us today to begin the process.