IT and network managers will tell you every three years; never more than five. These are the rules they live by. But why?
You local area network is the backbone of your business. All your staff connect to it so they can share the resources that make your business tick, such as email, document folders databases, etc.
The cables and switches that connect you together as one collaborative unit are crucial, but like all hardware and infrastructure they will need a refresh from time to time as technology continues its fast-paced path to find more effective and efficient ways of working.
An example of this is a implementing a software upgrade - very often these are done without much thought for the implications on the LAN. The latest 6.0.3 version may have all the tools your business now needs, but your switches may not be capable of running it. Without that compatibility, it will not work or will work to a certain degree but will cause irritating network issues or congestion.
You may decide to run extra technology on your LAN such as IP telephony - your current LAN may not to be capable of coping with the extra traffic or may not provide Quality of Service which is required for voice deployments
Similarly, a LAN can get overloaded. Switches tend to come in 12, 24 or 48-port configurations. But these ports will soon run out if you add in extra devices or employ extra staff. Just as you need to add extra desks or move to bigger premises, you will need increase the size of your LAN.
Or you may need to increase the security of your LAN to meet PCI DSS compliance, for instance. LANs that were previously protected may now fail penetration testing, so an upgrade or reconfiguration is a vital here.
All these acronyms can make your head spin and that’s when a LAN audit can be very useful. A senior network engineer can make an astute assessment to let you know where your LAN needs improvement or upgrading, or indeed, leaving well alone because as your business backbone, it is holding its own.