As K-12 school districts strive to expand and modernize their networks, administrators must meet the ever-changing demands for connectivity, gigabit class Wi-Fi, and traffic flow. always growing. Driven by these increasing traffic demands and technological advances, new network switches offer advantages in both capacity and utility.
Cisco Systems, Extreme Networks, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and many more offer a wide range of enterprise-class switching products to meet demands that span from the network edge to the data center and the cloud. But the large number of products available present a significant challenge for planners and district network operators, which often makes it difficult to choose the right switch for a given application.
While switches are often thought of as static elements that change very little over time, this is not really the case. It is important to consider the fundamental requirements of your switch hierarchy, not only for today but also for the future. Here are some strategies for planning a switch upgrade:
1. Start with network management systems and solutions
Network management systems are the critical element in optimizing network and application performance, reliability and productivity of operating personnel. Since the capabilities of management solutions vary widely, it is important to consider the characteristics, functions and essential benefits for your organization – and ensure that the selected products are fully compatible and supported by the hierarchy of your IT management system.
Carefully review the organization-wide requirements for security, traffic policies, VLANs, logging, analysis, health, and redundancy to ensure that the selected switches meet these requirements. requirements. Also examine compatibility with other management and operations tools and solutions – in particular Wi-Fi management, where the potential for conflict with wired network management policies and parameters is very real.
2. Perform a network requirements audit
Regularly review your networks – at least twice a year. It is especially important to consider the growth in the number of wireless access points and changing throughput requirements as speeds increase, as well as the power requirements for access points, where 802.3 at replaces .3af. Examine operating logs and comments identifying common and recurring pain points, noting issues such as insufficient capacity during peak demand periods.
Think fiber for long journeys, as well as upgrades to CAT 6 cabling where fiber is not required. While switches limited to 2.5 and 5 gigabits per second, per port, may alleviate the need for immediate cable upgrades, school districts today should budget for at least 10 Gbps.
3. Carefully review the capacity planning assumptions
Throughput has always been the key performance metric for switches, but today the issue is the overall capacity of the solution. Client devices have changed this dynamic by increasing mobile and wireless demands. Sufficient capacity is required for end user productivityy, since demand in any location may vary over time.
With the addition of access points, the number of switch ports per physical switch is of vital concern. Stackable switches are a great way to meet demands that increase over time while simplifying management. It is also important to take into account time-bound traffic trends, such as voice over IP, video streaming and multicast, as well as support for class of service / quality of service, 802.1q and related capabilities.
4. Don’t forget about physical planning
As many networking elements, such as management consoles, migrate to the cloud, Kindergarten to Grade 12 schools will require switches to physically reside in their facilities for the foreseeable future.
So, consider physical space (typically in an equipment rack), power, cooling, and cables are required in each case when planning installations and upgrades. Careful analysis of the number and types of ports required on each switch (or stack) is also essential. Ultimately, take into account the operating environment: A wide variety of industrial, rugged and specialty switching products are available to meet requirements.