Guidelines for futureproofing your networks
As our lives become more and more dependent on the Internet, home networks become less of a luxury and more a critical utility like water, electricity and gas. The convergence of AV and IT in connected entertainment systems, the emergence of Internet of Things (IoT), the consumption of cloud-based content and services such as Netflix, Pandora, etc., and the rollout of high-bandwidth infrastructure (e.g., Google fiber, Verizon FiOS) continue to underscore the prominence of the network in our daily lives.
As a systems integrator, you must ask yourself a specific question when designing and installing network systems for your clients: How do I ensure that my clients’ needs are met today while accommodating for the near future? How do I prevent my network from becoming obsolete in just a few years?
While designing a network that meets today’s needs is relatively straightforward, many assume that designing for an unpredictable future is near-impossible. However, I will share some techniques on designing a futureproof system—one that will be flexible and grow with your clients’ needs.
If done properly, the futureproof network will be:
• Usable—achieves all functional needs with no loss in performance, security and availability over the desired time period
• Scalable—supports future needs, applications and devices
• Supportable—resolves technical, performance, reliability and SLA issues
• Changeable—addresses “lock-in” and facilitates migration to updated solutions on your clients’ schedule
• Economical—total cost of ownership stays within forecasted ranges
Futureproofing is designing a network that maximizes flexibility and minimizes the risk of a network turning obsolete. It accounts for the evolution of the client’s network over time and incorporates lifecycle planning techniques. Futureproofing does not stop once the network has been designed; it is a continuous process. It is not about overbuying technology, outguessing the future, and never buying technology again. Just as a network will differ from one client to another, there is no “one-size-fits-all” futureproofing design for everyone.
In order to develop futureproof systems, it is important to understand a few key design principles: