Mike Lodato, vice president of marketing and business development
Network Hardware Resale
IPv6 has splashed all over the headlines of late. Included in this high tide of hype, network equipment manufacturers have seen an opportunity to push companies into immediate and costly network upgrades—even if they are not really necessary.
Sure, the impact of IPv6 will be pervasive over time, but the current adoption rate is slow because the move right now yields little perceived gain. Frankly, it is more important to avoid caving under pressure from OEMs and resellers and resist the urge to upgrade all infrastructure now to IPv6-ready status. In reality, most network gear has had IPv6 capability for years and much of the IPv4 equipment is perfectly suitable for current tasks.
The best course of action involves a thorough network assessment, including long-range planning that best reflects your organization’s business needs, budget parameters, network capabilities and equipment support strategies. This path may not mesh with your OEMs’ or resellers’ plans, but remember, their prosperity is predicated upon selling new equipment, so they are always going to push the latest-and-greatest agenda. But on major and costly decisions, it’s always advisable to get a second opinion.
Why upgrade to IPv6 if you don’t have to? Instead, look for ways to extend the life of your current network, which also can save precious IT time and dollars. A network audit from a reputable third-party, one with no vendor biases, can help create a customized blueprint that pinpoints your challenges and addresses current operations while providing actionable recommendations for future moves regarding hardware, software, support and maintenance.
Such an exam should include:
• Identification of mission- and business-critical network components;
• Ways to improve network performance;
• Suggestions for future network performance upgrades;
• Opportunities to maximize savings in operational costs;
• Recommendations for hardware and software refinements;
• Alternatives for saving money on network maintenance; and
• Strategies for improving network equipment procurement.
After taking an audit of your business and connectivity needs, most likely you will find the majority of your legacy equipment will not require immediate upgrading. In fact, many times an audit reveals numerous ways to save by not upgrading. For example, say you have Cisco Catalyst 6509 switches in your network and need to buy two more. Cisco will say you can’t, as they don’t sell them anymore, so the push will be to get you to buy a new Catalyst 6509-E while an independent reseller can sell you what you wanted for about 80 percent less along with a support contract at half the cost.
Upgrades, whether to IPv6 or the latest release, should be made only when your business or network performance dictates—not just because your OEM has decided to stop selling and supporting the equipment. Every month OEMs put more products on end-of-sale or end-of-life status, yet most of this equipment has plenty of useful life left. For this reason, it behooves organizations of all sizes and types to implement a dynamic strategy to map out the future of their networks over the next three years and develop a plan to best support these needs. By doing so, future moves, such as the eventual one to IPv6, can be achieved on your terms, budget and timetable.
Mike Lodato is vice president of marketing and business development for Network Hardware Resale.
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