I was recently asked what was the worst advice I’d ever heard for how to set up a network. Being a seasoned IT professional, I’ve seen and heard my share of crazy IT scenarios.
I stopped to think for a moment, briefly recalling the time I saw a server sitting on cement blocks in a wet basement at a client’s site. Surely that’s not a good way to set up equipment.
I thought back to my college days when my alma mater had their network assign each student’s computer a unique public IP address with no filtering. That means that every student computer could be accessed like a server from anywhere. I still find it hard to believe that the entire student body’s PCs didn’t get turned into a massive Chinese botnet.
Even though these stories may be entertaining, I decided that the truly worst advice I’d ever heard on how to set up a network was more ordinary sounding, yet still very harmful.
That bad advice is this: it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter what equipment you buy or how exactly to configure it. As long as it kind of works ok and is easy on the budget, it’s good enough.
The unfortunate reality is that a lot of businesses seem to be following this advice, either by default or by design. It could come from CFOs who are pressuring IT folks to spend less money. They might be looking at IT expenses as just overhead or a necessary evil rather than an investment in their business. This advice could come from inexperienced IT service providers who don’t realize or consider how differences in performance in equipment can lead to lost productivity which easily translates to wasted money. It may be the case that a business isn’t consciously trying to cheap out on IT infrastructure. Perhaps the organization lacks an advocate who should be making a strong case for investing in a robust technology infrastructure.
Regardless of the source of this bad advice, the notion that it doesn’t matter what equipment you get or how it’s set up must be combatted. Investing in the right IT equipment – servers, desktops, mobile devices, wifi, routers, backups – will make a huge impact on productivity, reliability, uptime, and ultimately the bottom line.
To the untrained eye, a wifi network is a bunch of small plastic boxes with blinking lights and antennae clinging to the ceiling throughout a building. They hold hands with their invisible radio wave arms and work together to let you get online, check email, and post a picture of your lunch to Instagram. Some of these little guys cost a ton and some are on clearance at Best Buy. They all are meant to do the same basic function, so why spend the extra money on top quality equipment?
Our IT Services team has reengineered wifi networks for companies who didn’t properly answer that question the first time around. It turns out that not all wifi access points are created equal. In our tech-driven world, wifi is becoming like air to employees and customers, so a fast and reliable wifi network is a must-have. Investing in top quality gear to fill out a properly designed network quickly pays for itself in terms of productivity and happy customers. Likewise, a spotty network that frequently drops connections will frustrate employees and infuriate guests and clients.
That’s why it matters. All of it.
Every IT decision must be intentional and well-informed. Once a company shifts its mindset from trying to calculate the cheapest IT solution they can get away with to seeking the best solution because every IT decision matters, they’ll see benefits in productivity, client satisfaction, and ultimately profitability.
May 26th, 2016 by Don Spidell