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The Importance of Planning for IT Upgrades

This post was originally published on October 7, 2015, and was updated on May 14, 2024.

The best way to protect your IT investment is to project and monitor your activity and vendor upgrade releases. Staying up-to-date will not only provide you with reliable connectivity and performance, maximize uptime, and deliver the benefit of increased bandwidth when you need it but also enhance your network security, ensuring your data is always protected.

How do you know when to update your bandwidth?

By monitoring your activity over time, you will be able to spot your usage trends and predict growth. For example, by observing your bandwidth traffic each quarter, you will likely see an increase in traffic as more and more information and data are exchanged. This allows you to use the past to predict the future, projecting how much additional bandwidth you will need in the coming months based on your current growth and usage rates. Through proactive monitoring, you can plan for bandwidth upgrades ahead of time and avoid any performance issues or slow-downs in 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 the transfer of large volumes of data, both requiring a large amount of bandwidth. At other times, you may need only an average amount of bandwidth.

How do you know when to upgrade your equipment?

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

In this case, the equipment’s operating systems will require upgrades during its “lifetime,” which is 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 to receive support). The same applies to network companies and equipment. This means that if you continue to use an unsupported version, you may not receive critical security updates or be able to access the latest features or improvements.

Major and Minor Releases

Typically, network equipment has both major and minor releases, which usually occur on a predefined release cycle. Knowing this release cycle and the type of upgrade can help you plan accordingly. 

A major release is a significant feature update that often includes new functionality, performance improvements, and bug fixes. It is usually scheduled every quarter or three times a year. 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 found and fixed within each release. This information will help you determine if the problem applies to your network devices and if you would benefit from installing the release. For example, if it is a feature you use or fixes a security hole exposed in your architecture and configuration, you would want to upgrade. However, when neither is the case, you can opt to wait to install.

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

If you keep an eye on these updates and upgrades, you can ensure that your IT infrastructure continues to run smoothly and efficiently. By being proactive and aware, you can reduce the number of issues and interruptions you, your company, and your clients face. To connect with one of our local experts to ensure your infrastructure is up-to-date, contact DQE.

Tags: IT Upgrades, planning, Vendor Upgrade Releases