Organisations must think holistically about their network needs when considering upgrades or infrastructure purchases.
I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t buy a car without looking at other options and weighing the pros and cons first―would you? So, why should shopping for a network vendor be any different?
We know that network infrastructure is a substantial and key investment for any organisation, that means doing your homework is a must. Arming yourself with knowledge and asking the right questions ensures you have the tools you need to make the best decision for your organisation.
As with car manufacturers, all network infrastructure vendors are not created equal and it’s important to look past clever marketing to get to the facts.
To help you select the vendor that meets your next network equipment purchase or upgrade requirements, following are six questions for you to think about:
1. Does the vendor have a comprehensive and integrated portfolio that covers both your LAN and WLAN needs (including indoor and outdoor equipment)?
Beware of vendors who have built their portfolio through acquisitions with no clear path for product evolution or integrated management.
2. Does the vendor have a single, unified management system to manage both the LAN and WLAN equipment including unified policy management, guest access/BYOD and IoT management, analytics, and fabric provisioning?
Multiple management systems can add considerable costs in provisioning and maintaining your network. Avoid vendors that do not offer a single pane of glass to manage the entire network or that require multiple servers to deliver all the functionalities mentioned above.
3. Does the vendor offer cloud-based or on premises network management options with identical features?
You shouldn’t have to compromise on features just because you want to manage your network in the cloud.
4. Does the vendor offer flexible purchasing options to address your purchasing preferences?
You need to be able to purchase equipment and software in a way that works for your organisation, whether you’re buying the equipment outright or through a subscription model.
5. Does the vendor have a good track record with their existing customers?
Customer reviews are important. Check how potential vendors stack up against the competition.
6. And of course, you also need to consider price, which brings us to the final question—does the math add up?
When considering the cost of refreshing your network, it’s crucial to take a holistic look beyond the price points of switches and access points. Consider the typical five-to-seven-year lifespan of the network equipment and take a closer look at both the hard costs such as hardware, maintenance, licensing and support, and the soft costs such as network downtimes and operational efficiency.
In addition to these obvious costs, there are many other factors affecting your network’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) including interoperability with existing products and management systems, purchasing models and market instabilities.
It’s also important to note that more expensive doesn’t always mean better quality or fit. Get to the bottom of what you’re paying for and make sure the value is there.
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