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The Importance of Planning for IT Upgrades

The best way to protect your IT investment is to project and monitor your activity and vendor upgrade releases. Staying up-to-date will provide you with reliable connectivity and performance, maximize uptime and deliver the benefit of the increased bandwidth, when you need it.

How do you know when you will need to update your bandwidth?

By monitoring your activity over time, you will be able to spot your usage trends and be able to predict growth. For example, by monitoring your bandwidth traffic over each quarter, you will most likely see an increase in traffic as more and more information and data is exchanged. Thereby, letting the past predict the future, you can project, based on your current growth and usage rates, how much additional bandwidth you will need in the coming months. Through proactive monitoring, you can plan to upgrade your bandwidth ahead of time and avoid any performance issues or slow-downs of your Internet traffic.

However, through monitoring, you may see times when your traffic surges and you need increased bandwidth only during these times. These surges may be due to either high traffic or transfer of large volumes of data, both requiring a large amount of bandwidth. At other times, you may see that you require only an average amount of bandwidth.

In this case, you may want to consider changing to DQE Communications’ Bandwidth-on-Demand Services. With Bandwidth-on-Demand, you can scale your bandwidth using DQE’s easy to use online web portal known as the Customer Control Center (CCC). By adjusting bandwidth in real time as you need it keeps you from purchasing large quantities of bandwidth for periodic spikes in usage.

To learn more about monitoring your bandwidth usage to see trending over time and how DQE provides these services and their Customer Control Center.

The other main aspect of planning for IT upgrades, is to consider the frequency of upgrades to your network equipment. Network equipment includes both hardware and configuration software that make your network run, for example, firewalls, routers and switches, which are usually provided by manufacturers such as Juniper®, Cisco® and so forth.

In this case, the equipment has operating systems that will require upgrades during the “life” of the equipment. The life being as long as the company continues to support a certain version (just as Microsoft® no longer supports Windows 95® and requires that you upgrade to a newer version in order to receive support). The same applies to network companies and equipment.

Typically with network equipment, there are both major and minor releases and they usually occur on a pre-defined release cycle. Knowing this release cycle and the type of upgrade can help you plan accordingly. Minor releases occur between major ones and usually contain bug fixes that have been found since the last major release. By subscribing to vendor updates you can access a list documenting the issues that were found and fixed. With minor releases, you can determine if the issue applies to your network devices. For example, if it is a feature you use or it fixes a security hole exposed in your architecture and configuration, then you would want to upgrade. However, when neither is the case, you can opt to wait to install the minor release.

With a major release, it is a significant feature update and is usually on a schedule such as every quarter or three times a year. In this case, the release notes will describe the new features, list features or issues that are fixed in the release and list the issues that are known but not fixed with this particular release. This information will help you determine if you need to install this release (which is usually encouraged with major releases).

When you choose to install, you need to schedule a maintenance “window” for the install which should be a time of very-low traffic.

AT DQE Communications, a quarterly update process is in place where dates are announced to customers one month in advance. Likewise, periodic maintenance notices are announced two weeks in advance. Even though core devices and data center systems are fully redundant and use In Service Software Updates (ISSU) processes, which enable upgrades with no downtime, DQE only runs the upgrades in low usage periods from 11:00 pm to 5:00 AM on weekends.

For more information about DQE’s many services and solutions, visit our Services page.

Tags: IT Upgrades, planning, Vendor Upgrade Releases