20. Reduce purchasing new equipment

Canny purchasing in difficult times

The economic downturn resulting from the global debt crisis of 2008 has made itself felt in all corners of the market, and its impact is on-going. For network managers it has meant slashed budgets as businesses and other organisations seek to make significant financial savings. For some, the cuts have already hit. For others they are still filtering down through the financial system. For almost all, though, it's just a matter of time: few businesses are likely to escape unaffected.

Such cuts put network and IT managers in an unenviable position. They must, of course, operate within the finances available, but they, better than almost anyone else, know how dependent modern businesses are on their networks. Every network manager must defend their network (and especially their core network) not least because, if it is compromised, they will be first in the dock when the stewards' enquiry begins. There is a substantial financial circle to be squared.

Buy less?

Let's take a good hard look at the situation you could be facing. Cuts in your network budget are either with you now, or on the way. If you are one of those looking at substantial cuts, you could be forgiven for thinking that your options are strictly limited to a drastic reduction in what you will buy, across the board. That's not necessarily the case, though. Instead, consider reducing the amount of new equipment that you buy.

You may normally buy all or most of your network equipment brand new. When budgets are generous, such a strategy can be ideal, for various excellent reasons. Adopting a policy of buying refurbished equipment can save you thousands, though. And these savings can be taken further. To maximise them, canny network managers don't simply specify product X refurbished instead of product X brand new. They pay very close attention to exactly what device is specified for each network requirement.

Supply and demand

With a well-rounded understanding of the market, careful device selection can pay significant further dividends. For example, many large networks are currently decommissioning 10/100 speed kit in favour of gigabit and ten gigabit devices. As a result, the market is awash with 10/100 product, and the immutable law of supply and demand is making prices rather attractive. Predictably, 10/100/1000 is following suit. By specifying refurbished 10/100 devices for network segments that will run happily at these speeds, you can retain as much of your reduced budget as possible for your core network while minimising degradation of your peripheral network performance.

That brings us to the heart of the matter. In harsh times, all these money-saving tactics should have one goal: the protection of your core network. Virtually all businesses today are utterly reliant on a robust core network. Cuts to that core network will almost inevitably impact bottom line business performance – possibly seriously, or even disastrously. Protect it at almost any cost. Buy refurbished devices in preference to new, specify lower performance where you can get away with it, and even cut peripheral network services if necessary, but use the savings, which can be substantial indeed, to maintain your core network.

Then, when easier times come, you'll have a solid, up to date and robust foundation on which to build up additional network services and performance.