Every morning’s paper and every local news show seem to be offering tips lately on dealing with this dismal economy. Ten ways to cut your grocery bill! Eight ways to save on your kids’ clothes! This is truly helpful information for these tough times, and in that spirit, I’d like to offer up five ways that you can reduce your company’s networking costs.
Frankly, these tips would have been good a year ago, when the economy hadn’t tumbled yet, and they’ll be good a year from now, when we’re hopefully well on the way to recovery. But maybe now that times are toughest, you’ll be properly motivated to take the actions that could keep your bottom line in the black. So here they are:
Spend a little to save a lot. (There has never been a better time to make the change away from legacy technology.) If you are still using frame relay, ATM, or private line for part of your network, now is the time to move everything to one IP-based solution. Converging your networks and putting everything on a single IP-based network does require up-front investment. But the returns begin immediately, as you leave behind the legacy (and separate) network architecture and equipment. The more you can eliminate standalone services and combine them onto one network, the greater your potential savings.
Wireless for local access. (Wireless isn’t only about personal devices.) Wireless access can significantly reduce your local access costs, enable your business, and provide you robust survivability that may be impossible to afford today. This is particularly valuable if you are stuck paying for expensive T1 circuits from your local telephone company. Why not change the paradigm altogether? Options exist today (e.g. Sprint Data Link) that allow you to enable wireless access with the needed bandwidth and flexibility to meet your business needs.
Don’t forget the Internet. (The Internet is not so scary anymore.) For small offices or for employees working out of home offices, low-cost access via DSL or cable modems can use Internet connectivity as a path to the LAN and the needed shared applications, access to the corporate network, and more. The savings over dedicated access can’t be overstated here. If you go this route, though, our Secure Web Protection services become a must, both for safety and as a means of maximizing bandwidth. Just make sure on the LAN side that you have built in the right controls needed to make sure connectivity is assured.
Don’t let assets go to waste. (If you aren’t using all of your network then you are probably wasting money.) Whatever your network infrastructure, include as much into your communications pipes as possible… Once you do that, use every technique you have to maximize that efficiency even more. That will keep you from having to add circuits, and the efficiency may even allow you to eliminate some circuits to cut costs. Think about using WAN acceleration/optimization products and solutions to optimize bandwidth usage through methods such as caching, application prioritization, compression, and Spam blocking. These techniques will help you improve performance and yield cost savings at the same time.
There should always be money for backup. (Running a converged network also means planning ahead for when things go wrong.) How bad would it be for your business to face a network outage that lasted hours or even days? If that thought grips you with fear, then take action now to give yourself some communications redundancy as a safety net. Historically, that may have meant duplicating your entire architecture, but today, there are many more ways to get the redundancy you want in a cost-effective manner. In fact, wireless access is the perfect secondary solution to consider. Not only is it fully redundant, but it can sit in the background at minimal cost, ready for emergency use.
I’ll admit that these tips admittedly skim the surface, but the important thing to remember is that all of them are available today and can solve real problems. I know it is easy to fall into the trap of “hunkering down” and just trying to ride out the recession without making waves, not changing anything, and not spending any money or investing in your network. But the right actions taken now may be the difference in how your company survives this challenging period. If these changes yield even more benefits as the economy improves and your business begins growing again, all the better.