Cleaning 03 large

17. Recycle existing network parts

Recycle, recycle, recycle!

It's OK. You can relax. This isn't yet another article telling you to be green, to sort and recycle rather than throw away. At least, not just that – and I promise that's the last mention of the 'G' word. I'm going a step further in this month's money-saving tip: before you dispose of decommissioned equipment you pull from your network, consider the possibility of re-using it.

A life lesson from shoes

With three children under six years of age it has become painfully clear to me just how expensive their shoes are. I reckon they must be far and away the most costly items of children's clothing. Of course, no one tells you this before you have children – it's one of those 'life lessons'. And it's a lesson that life takes great delight in ramming home forcefully!

To enhance the lesson, my wife tends towards the view that only the best will do. Now, I don't disagree on this, but the difference in the price tags on apparently very similar shoes from the local supermarket and the high fashion stores can be eye-watering to say the least. Like any father, I want my children to have the best. Higher quality shoes are going to be better for their feet and are likely to last longer. But I'm also keen to make the most of any way to save a bit of cash where I can do so without sacrificing that quality.

I have two daughters. Fortunately they both like pink, and they both take after me in that they have slightly larger and wider than average feet. While they may not be so enthusiastic about the latter, both factors are good news for me. They mean that we can pass shoes from the older daughter to the younger, saving money without upsetting anyone – including my daughters and my wife!

Your network: redeploy, don't throw away

Now – and this, odd though it may seem, is the important bit – your network is like my daughters' feet: 'hand-me-down' strategies work a treat. When you upgrade this or thatsection of your network, do you ever have the nagging feeling that the device you're pulling out could be put to use elsewhere in your infrastructure? Nine times out of ten, it almost certainly could, even if that means using it to upgrade another part of your network before it strictly needs to be upgraded.

Why should you upgrade a section of network that doesn't need to be upgraded yet? After all, the old adage "If it isn't broken, don't fix it" is based on some pretty sound common sense. The reason is that even if that part of your network isn't stretched at the moment, the day will surely come – and probably sooner than you think or hope – when it will be under pressure. Use the parts released by one upgrade to build capacity, capability and reliability in other areas – use your existing investment to secure your network's future.

By doing this, you'll not only please your users but also your finance department, by strengthening the return you get on the original investment in the reused network devices.

Your network infrastructure represents a significant investment – both in terms of hardware and software costs, and also in terms of time and effort. Get the best possible return on that investment and deliver the best possible network service to your users by, wherever possible, carefully redeploying retired equipment rather than disposing of it. After all, when it's gone, it's gone.