Capacity Planning Must Balance Budget and Demand
The demand for network bandwidth rarely goes down; it isn’t usually stable, either. As digital transformation and the Internet of Things spread technology throughout the entire enterprise, network capacity requirements trend ever-upwards. Network planning is a critical function to ensure the business has the capacity it needs to meet current and future needs.
Planning requires considering several different pieces of information:
- your current system maximum capacity
- your current system current utilization
- your forecasts of future demand
- the cost of providing additional capacity
Network Capacity Planning Process
Planning needs to start by understanding your current network, both its capabilities and the demand it’s meeting. To do this, create an inventory of both network and user equipment, onsite and off, review subnet design, and collect network performance metrics. You’ll want to gather usage data over a period of time so you see peaks like end of month or holiday processing as well as normal daily usage.
As you review the data, look for opportunities to manage demand in ways that don’t require expanding capacity. For example, you can schedule tasks for later in the day so they don’t conflict with business users’ work. You should also look at which applications are accessed by users to identify opportunities to reorganize subnetworks.
Once you’ve collected the network data and made any efficiency improvements, you can start considering how to expand capacity. This requires estimating future bandwidth demands, which can be challenging. If the expansion is due to adding new software, the vendor can provide an estimate of bandwidth requirements.
After knowing how much additional capacity you need comes the difficult process of deciding how to supply it. This can potentially be achieved through different approaches, including buying additional resources, replacing existing resources with more powerful equipment, or reorganizing the network to make additional capacity available. Reorganizing the network can be handled either physically or virtually. Moving workloads to virtual machines on shared servers can have a significant impact on how links are utilized.
Whatever you choose to do, budget requirements must always be considered, as well. Network devices aren’t the only source of costs when you expand network capacity; you may need to purchase additional firewalls and upgrade other security software. In fact, network expansion should always be evaluated within the complete context of all your infrastructure, as it exists to meet their needs.
Prescient Solutions provides complete network services, including monitoring and maintenance, along with future-looking infrastructure assessments that help Chicago and Schaumburg businesses meet their expanding IT needs. Contact us to learn how our IT consulting and managed services can help you achieve the IT capacity and IT capability your business needs to thrive.