What are the top reasons for network upgrades?
With the network becoming more important than ever, the three top reasons for network upgrades are performance, reliability and security.
The best way to get more performance from your customer's network is by improving LAN performance. That's going to be handled by good architecture involving things like 100-Megabit or Gigagbit Ethernet switches with Layer 3 and VLAN capabilities. Those core network devices are developing technologies that are going to be crucial for emerging network technologies such as VoIP that place more demands on networks.
Tomorrow's network is not going to be plug-and-play like it has been in the past -- now latency and switching performance are becoming important. As more and more items are layered on the IP network, it becomes more important than ever that you have switches and a network core that can support them.
Reliability is also a worthy reason for a network upgrade. As your client uses multimedia and unified communications over IP such as telephones, IM and video, it's important that they have a reliable Internet connection and a high-functioning router. Get something that's Cisco quality, and even if you're using it with default configurations out of the box for now, you'll have a lot of granularity and control to go into your router to control your traffic to the Internet more effectively later.
Quality of Service with voice and video is going to become very important. A lot of SMBs have routers that don't support those kinds of capabilities, so using lower-grade routers is just going to get you in the end.
The last network upgrade involves security. Everything is going through the same pipe and becoming unified, and making sure you have a dedicated firewall is very important. A lot of network devices have an integrated firewall and router, but good common practice is to get a PIX or some other purpose-built firewall that you can deploy as a separate device to take care of firewall processing. That way your firewall can just focus on the different kinds of traffic and the ever-increasing number of threats that are coming through the network.
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