One of my passions in life is sailing, both cruising and racing. There is nothing quite like the wind in your hair and the sun on your face to paint a perfect day. The difference between a great day on the water and miserable one comes down to preparation. Basic maintenance of the vessel, proactively checking the weather, wind, and tides, and understanding how to optimally operate the vessel for the best performance will enhance the experience. It’s not something that one can fully master, and you will always be learning and striving towards perfection. This is very true of my other passion, which is helping customers get optimal performance out of their networks. Once again, success is all about preparation.
Over my career, I have been through more customers than I can count and have seen widely ranging degrees of success amongst these customers. Why is it that some customers are extremely successful with no outages or performance issues whilst others seem to never be able to keep pace with outages and performance issues are a near daily occurrence? Some deploy a new technology without a glitch while others dread the thought of adding new technologies to their network in fear of the potential impact to their business.
You need a holistic approach that takes into consideration all of the systems involved in a solution. You can design and deploy the best voice/video solution but if the underlying network is not designed and configured to support this business service, it will not likely meet the performance requirements of the business. For example, imagine your business has the requirement to deliver a periodic streaming video broadcast from senior management to the employees of the company. Your company consists of campuses globally along with remote and mobile workers. So, you need to be able to stream across your wired, wireless and VPN network to users both local and remote. This is where the role of architecture comes into play.
The importance of architecture is that it pulls together a complete holistic view of the business services and the requirements to effectively support them. How much bandwidth is required, what is the tolerable round trip delay, tolerance for packet loss are all considerations that will go into building that strong foundation that is required for success. In today’s world of BYOD, the expectation is that these services will be available and perform flawlessly over wired, wireless and VPN.
I set a goal to increase the speed performance of my sailboat and purchased brand new sails to reach this goal. After installing the sails, it was clear that I had gained no additional speed. After doing a bottoms-up assessment of the vessel, I realized that the hull was covered with barnacles. Without a clean hull, adding sails will not deliver the desired result. Trying to deploy a business service, such as a voice or video solution, over a network that is not designed for it will also fail to deliver the desired. Most problems with deploying advanced technologies lie within the foundational network rather than the advanced technologies themselves. Your network, like the hull of my boat, is the foundation of your business services. If this is not solid, the chances are the higher level services that rely on this “foundation” will likely not delivery the desired results. A holistic approach will take into consideration the business services that must run over the network and use this to build out an effective foundation. Read this success story on how Ecobank deployed collaboration solutions based on a solid infrastructure. You can also see how optimization has benefited other companies in this infographic.
Stay tuned for my next posts where I’ll cover proven strategies for optimizing your network.