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When looking at increasing network speed in the enterprise, there are a lot of things to consider – and missing any one of them can result in a slowdown in part or all of the network.

It is easy enough to migrate slowly by replacing pieces with others that support all of the relevant standards (such as 10/100/1000 switches). However, such a migration can bog down and leave old equipment in place and slowing down everyone.

First, determine if the infrastructure can handle the equipment. Is the “copper” of a sufficient grade to handle the increased demands? If not, then the cables will have to be replaced – perhaps with Cat-6 or better – or even fiber if your needs warrant it. Check for undue interference – fiber will not receive interference that copper would.

After the cabling is ready, check the infrastructure – all of it. It can be easy to miss one. Also check the capabilities of all. For example, can the switch handle full gigabit speeds on all ports at once? You might be surprised at the answer.

Once the equipment is in place – make sure that all clients are using gigabit speeds. Most switches should have indicators that tell if a port is running at a gigabit or not.

Make doubly sure that servers are running at full speed, as a slowdown there will affect everyone who uses that server. This becomes doubly important in the case of firewalls because of the impact.

Lastly, don’t forget telco equipment. If the connection to the T1 is still running at 100 megabits, then this will slow Internet access for the entire enterprise down.

One more thing – an upgrade such as this would be a perfect time to get more advanced equipment in house. Just be concious of the corporate budget. In such cases, it also helps to present improvements that the executives can see and experience personally rather than some elusive benefits that only the IT staff will see.

Good luck in your speed improvement project!

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