Cleaning 03 large

31. Check viability of new equipment

When is 'new' really necessary?

I bet, like me, you get something of a buzz when buying new kit. It’s satisfying and (let’s face it) fun to see new components going into your network. But replacing existing equipment with the latest, even if not the greatest, is not always the financially prudent thing to do. Sometimes it’s wiser to keep your existing kit going a little longer, replacing it later on.

I tend to keep my cars for a fair while: my old 4x4 is knocking on eight years old now and it’s had new parts in pretty much every area, from the engine and suspension through to the driver’s seat. Every new part and every repair costs money, though, and the time will come, probably fairly soon, at which point replacing the car will make more financial sense than continuing to run it.

Of course there are other good reasons to replace an ageing car. My 4x4 has a petrol engine and a substantial thirst – frankly, I’m getting bored of filling up every other day. I’ve promised myself that when I change it, I’ll go for a diesel model or perhaps even a hybrid: running on diesel would cost me a fraction of my petrol running costs.

New: interesting and fun

As well as offering impressive fuel economy, today’s vehicles are amazingly reliable. And of course, though it sounds obvious, a new car is, well, new. Like most of us, I like new: it’s interesting and fun.

I need to be hard-nosed, though, if I’m not to throw away money. I need to do the maths and identify the right point at which to replace my car. I need to check out the market, so I know what new models are likely to be introduced around the time I reach that point: a new model could be a better bet for me, in which case it might be worth keeping my current car going a little longer, until the new model is available.

These principles apply as much to my network – and yours - as they do to our cars.

Older kit – more failures

Recently I was chatting with a colleague from one of Go Communications’ Network Enterprise Partners. He told me – perhaps not surprisingly, given the current economic climate – that while they were busy quoting customers and prospects alike for new products available from manufacturers, a significant number of sales were not being completed. When those customers and prospects saw the proposals, many considered that their existing infrastructure was adequate for their requirements.

The same Partner also told me that network infrastructure component failures were gradually on the increase. That’s inevitable, of course, with ageing kit. The older it gets, the more likely it is to fail, and the time will come at which it is more expensive to continue to run an aged infrastructure than it is to replace it, either in whole or in part. In today’s economic conditions it’s often reaching this point that triggers previously deferred network infrastructure upgrades.

When those upgrades are made, not only is the reliability issue addressed, but other benefits can also accrue. The new devices may have features useful to the business that were not available before, for example.

Do your homework

The two keys to maximising return on your existing investment without spending more than you should on keeping it going are thorough research and careful sums. Study the pros and cons of upgrading now or waiting until later. Know the market, the products on offer, what features you need and what you don’t. Be crystal clear on how much your existing set-up is costing you to run and what savings you could make in running costs by upgrading.

When the time comes, you can upgrade with confidence, knowing that the decision is sound – and of course that will mean you can enjoy that ‘new kit’ thrill all the more.