Managing Converged Networks: Money Talks
Attaching a dollar value to the components puts into perspective the fact that the network isn't just a utility.
Before convergence there was controlled chaos, and now that the network is overlaid with services and applications, new challenges arise. Convergence to many means voice riding on the data network--so my question is, "Whatever happened to convergence?"
In addressing this question, I believe that looking hard at the infrastructure and then the components that I prefer to refer as "assets" may make a better business case and eventually lead to an answer. My buddy that I work with frequently is now using the word "assets," which businesses including staff and management of companies and organizations understand better--or at least they pay closer attention.
The infrastructure includes the network, cabling, fiber, circuits, hardware, software, endpoints and management tools. However you want to classify the components and infrastructure, attach a cost to those. There are fixed costs and monthly recurring direct costs, including licensing, usage and other fees. This is probably where many will stop and take a deep breath and say, "What's the point?"
The issue I see recurring in numerous businesses and organizations is the assumption that the "network" is just a utility and their demand is for an always-on, always-available network. Attaching a dollar value to the components puts into perspective the fact that the network isn't just a utility--and once values are known, other decisions become easier to make and understand.
My favorite example is power, and networks are powered and impacted by power from the grid and power influence within the local power infrastructure. In short, many companies are shooting themselves in the foot without knowing that 70% or more of harmful power-line influence originates within their own premises. There are different levels of whole-panel power protection, and a device that costs $700 installed isn't likely to be appropriate for protecting a data center panel--these devices are more likely to cost $8,300 installed. Once our customers understand costs and values--and we advise them to install appropriate whole-panel protection--it's been more likely to happen.
Then in understanding power, we don't just stop at the panel, but also include protection at endpoints, including UPS where appropriate. In this same example, we also add that anything else powered from that panel with the surge protection device (SPD) is also the beneficiary of that SPD. Lighting ballasts and starters and numerous other electrical components stand to benefit with fewer failures and longer life spans. While IT won't want to tally the values of those assets, it should be clear what those costs are--including the cost of disruption.
Weighing these costs and value of assets leaves most with an easy decision as to why they need to invest in an asset that serves years to protect other assets while preventing disruption to the business.
The other reason for attaching values to assets is to put into scope what you are managing and to gauge technology refresh efforts in the future. For example, our education vertical receives discounts on network equipment; for 10/100/1000 LAN switches, using vs. not using PoE is a cost difference of about $781, or $32.54 per port/24 ports. Is it worth having all switch gear be PoE, instead of mixing non-PoE with PoE switches? While it's more convenient to go all-PoE, the costs that will increase must also include the UPS, since the UPS will need to be sized to handle the additional PoE potential power draw.
Another example is from the late 1970s, when most North American call centers knew what it cost for a lost sale caused by a busy call center or one disrupted because of weather, power or other issues. Knowing these costs and costs of losses and disruptions put into perspective the potential of protecting revenues and weighing against the cost of remediation to prevent the losses or disruptions.
Too often, customers must endure the lesson from IT about the benefit of a technology upgrade or other marvel. Unfortunately many in business really need a synopsis and translation of technology into a stated value or monetary cost, and providing this seems to propel efforts in a more positive direction.