Network infrastructure scalability may seem like an IT mouthful but is important to business planning. In plain terms, it refers to the ability of hardware and software to operate when the context, workload, size, and similar aspects of a business change over time. A scalable network infrastructure will continue to work well as it serves more devices and people on those devices, while not wasting resources when there is less workload or fewer users.
The most common scalability issue for businesses is growth. For example, let’s say your business is gaining new hires, clients, and investors. When it comes to scalability, you’ll have to be prepared to answer: Can your network infrastructure efficiently manage this growth?
Whether it’s physical hardware or bandwidth, growth in your business will require you to address how your network infrastructure is enabling and supporting that growth. Network scalability may not be something you put a lot of time, effort, and budget dollars into, especially if you’ve been putting money into supporting the network incrementally. The problem is you can’t just buy a few more routers and hope for the best in the long term.
Establishing network scalability is worth the upfront work it takes to prevent your network infrastructure from failing you, your employees, and your clients. This article will discuss several areas that might need updating, upgrading, or integrating in order to make sure your network infrastructure is built in a way that will best serve you and your business goals.
Bandwidth & network topology
Getting an accurate picture of your network’s bandwidth capabilities–as in, its ability to transfer data among devices and the Internet in a set amount of time–can shed light on how much data your network can actually handle. Network mapping and other measures of bandwidth will shed light on how traffic flows and where the network might be experiencing performance delays. Load-balancing services or opting for a cloud-based service are ways to improve bandwidth abilities and will allow your network to scale up.
The frustrating news with hardware is that technology is constantly evolving, so hardware that was considered cutting edge a couple years ago might now be too slow or incompatible with new hardware or software. Servers, personal computers, routers, switches, cabling… all these components impact the scalability of your network. Any one of these components might be hurting your network’s scalability if they’re only capable of handling a certain number of users or of operating with certain systems.
Leasing hardware, upgrading where necessary, and migrating from legacy systems to cloud-based platforms are all options that depend on your business’ unique needs and future plans.
Scaling up vs. out
When talking about scalability, you’ll hear about scaling up (or scaling vertically) and scaling out (or scaling horizontally).
Scaling up is when you replace or upgrade different components to your network to be able to take on a higher workload. Adding more power or more capability to a device or replacing a device with a more capable version would be considered scaling up. Scaling up can be costly over time, and sometimes does not solve the problem of your business outgrowing your network infrastructure.
Scaling out is when you add more devices in order to add capacity. A data center can add pods to take on more workload. This tactic includes the expansion of your network architecture.
Is a network infrastructure overhaul necessary? Cloud-based platforms might be your network infrastructure solution
Often a business’ network infrastructure is built with a variety of components and services, all provided by different service providers or software companies. As your business grows or reaches the point where the network infrastructure is failing despite countless replacements or upgrades, an entire overhaul of your network infrastructure may be required.
Migrating your legacy system to a cloud-based platform might be challenging depending on the type of hardware you have. However, as businesses increasingly support remote work and as more businesses use cloud-based platforms, it might be the time to take advantage of this new(er) technology. Increased scalability, lower costs, and better security are just a few of the benefits of migrating to a cloud-based platform.
Network scalability means scaling down when you need to
Another aspect to consider is whether your business has busy or slow seasons, and if having a scalable network means you can also downscale your network infrastructure– and your IT costs–as demand ebbs and flows. It’s worth mentioning that scalability should go both ways to best serve your business’ needs and maintain cost effectiveness.
Get managed IT services
Having managed IT services has many benefits, including knowing that you have an expert IT provider who’s on top of your network infrastructure. Whether that means monitoring day-to-day issues, managing major crises, or ensuring that your network is equipped and prepared to handle business operations.
Managed IT service providers conduct scalability tests, checking whether the network can manage its current and projected workload. These tests may include: network usage, server response time, request throughput, memory use, and screen transitions. IT providers conduct these tests during a range of workload periods, monitoring results to see that the network is working no matter how much strain it endures.
A managed IT service provider then makes recommendations for ways to make your network more scalable, including hardware or software upgrades, if applicable. If it’s the best option for your business and its operational needs, a managed IT service provider may suggest migrating your network to a cloud-based system and virtualizing your data and processes.
Our professionals at Royal Network IT Solutions, Inc. have over 50 years of experience providing technical support to the Tustin and Eastvale areas of California. We know that having a network infrastructure that seamlessly serves your employees and clients is a vital part of your business, no matter the industry. At Royal Network IT Solutions, Inc., we can be that managed IT service provider that solves your scalability issues. In initial consultations, we’ll figure out exactly what you want and need out of your network infrastructure, customizing a package of services designed specifically for your operational needs and goals.
Call or email us today for a consultation at (949) 236-7700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.