9 Effective Network Infrastructure Strategy Best practices
A network infrastructure strategy provides a roadmap to companies looking to optimize their data center footprint. Growing trends in global connectivity, generative AI, and augmented-connected workforces are just three factors driving the importance of a solid and scalable IT network, according to Gartner’s 2024 Top Trends Impacting Infrastructure and Operations report.
When implemented effectively, a network infrastructure strategy can improve scalability, agility, and performance at a data center, making networks more cost-effective and easier to modernize. We’ve outlined some benefits and best practices for businesses looking to embark on a network infrastructure strategy.
Well-planned strategies can support business operations and IT modernization. Neglecting to apply a network infrastructure strategy can impede future growth or even impact current processes.
Even businesses that implemented a network infrastructure strategy in past years may want to revisit their original plans to see if rebuilds are necessary. Some of the tangible warning signs that an organization may need to build or refresh their existing strategy include:
- Frequent outages
- Increased usage of bandwidth
- Bottlenecks in connectivity
- Changing security mandates
Newer technological developments have also increased the complexity of data sources and workloads, including AI applications, Internet of Things (IoT) integrations, and hybrid cloud deployments.
A well-defined strategy enables agility, scalability, and performance optimization of a data center. These improvements can support mission-critical applications and set the stage for future growth.
Network infrastructure with a modular design can make it easier to implement changes in sections of the network and provide updates with minimal disruption.
Implementing virtualization can decouple network functions from their physical hardware, making them more flexible.
Software-defined networking can provision services and implement new network policies more quickly due to the centralization of the control of the network.
Networks can handle increased demand without losing performance when a strategy includes capacity planning.
Modular design also allows for the addition of new resources (users, applications, devices) without substantial reworks to the network.
Businesses can also build network capacity and adaptability through load balancing, link aggregation, and software-defined networking.
By continuously observing network performance through analytics and monitoring tools, businesses can find bottlenecks, congestion issues, and other obstacles to ideal network performance. When network performance takes a dip, implementing quality of service (QoS) policies can prioritize bandwidth for key resources.
A network infrastructure strategy should also include regular maintenance tasks, such as security patches and firmware upgrades, as well as link optimization projects, such as bandwidth allocation and link utilization.
When developing a network infrastructure strategy, businesses should consider a few key elements and best practices.
Start by assessing your current network infrastructure. Analyze the performance, capacity, and potential vulnerabilities in the network. What may need to be improved to allow for a more reliable network infrastructure and usher in future growth?
Once you have an idea of the current state of your network infrastructure, create a strategy that addresses both present and future needs. A good strategy is flexible enough to keep up with technological advancements, and also identifies gaps in the current infrastructure that can hinder the organization’s ability to meet needs and goals.
Boosting data center redundancy, resiliency, and uptime in business operations is key for robust continuity. Adding back up routers and switches to critical data center network infrastructure establishes extra paths, enhancing overall system reliability.
Resilient networks can recover quickly from a disaster. Redundancies, including power, backups, processors, and previously mentioned redundant elements, can all help build resiliency.
A data center is considered more available if there is a high percentage of uptime. Businesses can improve uptime through redundancies but should also consider the tier level of the data center facility itself. For example, a Tier III data center offers 99.982% uptime with less than 1.6 hours of downtime per year.
Data center networks can also be more reliable when businesses place an emphasis on security and compliance. Some network security measures may be required based on the industry or types of data your business processes. Common security techniques include network segmentation, encryption, and intrusion prevention systems (IPSs).
Network segmentation takes a computer network and segments it into smaller parts, improving performance and security. Encryption keeps data confidential during storage and in transit. IPSs activate when a network security risk is identified and block potentially harmful intrusions.
Automation can enhance efficiency and build resilience for your network. Businesses should consider incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) automation and intelligent workflows into their network operations to cut down time and improve accuracy for redundant manual tasks.
Instead of going overboard and buying unnecessary resources, businesses should apply a cost-effective approach to hardware upgrades, software solutions, and network optimization techniques. What could be improved? Which purchases will bring your business closer to its goals? What might be able to wait a few years? All purchases and upgrades should be tied to specific business outcomes.
A strong network is nothing without flexibility. Network Infrastructure strategies should ensure that the network can support future growth and adapt to changes. Outline what the plan is to scale up or cut back to respond more nimbly to network demands.
Sometimes, prioritizing Investments can lead to a plan that exceeds your current budget. While 66% of companies are planning to increase their IT spending in 2024, concerns about potential recessions and insurmountable budgetary guardrails can mean that investing in what a business needs to grow may not be possible all in the same year.
If there are any budget constraints that you encounter while calculating the cost of modernizing your infrastructure, figure out what’s most important to take care of and start by implementing those plans.
Your priority list and budget guidelines should get you closer to which equipment you’ll want to add that meets your business needs. The right equipment will align with your data usage, number of users typically on the network, security requirements for data, and desire for scalability. For example, the routers chosen need to have sufficient bandwidth to support users, and managed switches can mean better control and security for a network.
Future-proofing your IT network infrastructure means that the network is built in such a way that it’s able to not only support the current network demands, but it’s also able to handle future growth as well. High-capacity connectivity, scalable architecture, and automation of network tasks can significantly aid you in reaching your future-proof goals. When you’re ready to move from now to what’s next, learn more about TierPoint’s data center services.
A network infrastructure strategy details the approach a company may take to optimizing their current IT network, often with scalability and future innovation in mind.
Network infrastructure mostly pertains to hardware, such as cables, routers, switches, access points, servers, and firewalls. When properly interconnected these devices can become a secure, resilient Data Center Fabric.
Businesses can improve their network infrastructure by designing for redundancy and resiliency, prioritizing investments, keeping scalability in mind, choosing the right equipment for budgets, and incorporating automation where possible.
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