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Our last Fast 5 event focused on Network Rationalization. Chris Rafter, Senior VP & Arizona Business Unit Manager and Matt Wagner, Unified Communication & Network Practice Manager presented the live event from the Logicalis Arizona Demo Center.

One main takeaway from the event is that it is important to keep your data center as simple as you can. When you layer a number of networks over the years it can cause things to get complicated. You want to keep your data center simple and decrease the potential for an outage by eliminating unneeded equipment.

It is not only important to keep your data center simple in the equipment that you have, but also by going back to what is needed. To do this you can ask questions such as, “What is it that we want to do?” and “What are we really trying to accomplish?”

Along with discussing how important it is to focus on the simplicity of the data center Chris and Matt also answered the questions the audience had concerning Network Rationalization:

Q: I’m currently maintaining multiple networks and plan to consolidate. What are some of the first steps that I should consider before beginning a rationalization process?

A: Since the network isn’t the end point, but the method of transport, the focus should be on the stuff you are trying to access. What does the user need to get to?  Would be it best to interconnect your networks to make that happen or merge? Starting with the users, and the data, then flesh out how to most effectively provide access to those things.

You also need to prioritize the network demands. For example, accessibility is the newest demand we see. Network managers are getting these questions and they need to be placed in balance with the other demands on the network. Particularly with a consolidation that results from a merger, you have to address continuity of what you are offering currently in Company A and Company B.

Q: I’m worried about redundancy, how can I prepare my network to provide the resilience that I need?

A: There are product features that promise to eliminate redundancy, but you can’t really be assured that these redundancy features are going to work unless you test them. Things such as taking down a device or removing a switch can (and should) be done in a planned manner. You can’t trust the architecture and the way it was built unless you’ve tested to make sure it is going to work for you.

Don’t think of availability of redundancy as a series of point solutions that sit in the way of you and your data. Ask, “What is it that we are trying to get access to?”

Q: How do I approach a rationalization process that will please all end users? Should I evaluate as a task force?

A: Setting out to try and please everybody is not a feasible goal. You have to come at it from a business perspective and prioritize. This provides an opportunity for the CIO to shine – it’s not just a budgetary exercise, instead, take the perspective of focusing on the real economic value you are trying to add. For example, a SVP of engineering may have a serious concern about their ability to do business with the existing network, figure out how to satisfy that business need. It is also important to have an aspect of financial metric for success, to show how much you are saving.

Q: Tell me 3 benefits I could present to my CEO that would support this process?

1)      Reliability and recoverability – situation with a network that has grown organically and become complex. Troubleshooting under the gun to get everything back up – this is the #1 risk avoided, what does it cost for your network to be out for 1 hour? $100,000 – 1Million?

2)      Hard Cost – There are a lot of soft cost benefits, but if we are just looking at hard costs – you will probably be able to eliminate some technologies you don’t need and probably haven’t needed for some time. The technology costs, the energy costs (power, cooling), the maintenance costs, and real estate, etc. can be eliminated.

3)      Economic benefit – If you turn it into a cost exercise you may not get the benefit you would if you treat it like an exercise that can uncover a way to improve the business process and provide real economic benefit. For example, if the CEO is able to get all of the economic value of the most recent merger you are creating real value.

Thank you for joining us for Fast 5 Network. We hope you will join us for our last Fast 5 Event, #Fast5Services, on Tuesday, October 23. If you can’t make it, you can still ask Logicalis experts your questions on Twitter using the event hashtag in your post, #Fast5Services.