Selecting Infrastructure Solutions: Considering Performance, Quality & Cost

Selecting Infrastructure Solutions: Considering Performance, Quality & Cost

1 November 2017 | Reading Time: 2 minutes

What should you look for in a network infrastructure solution? We review key considerations to make when assessing solutions.

What Should You Consider When Comparing Infrastructure Solutions?

When asked about what to look for in a network infrastructure solution, my two starting points are usually performance and quality. But a third consideration, cost, is never far behind. ‘No surprise there’ you might say. However, the priority for each of these factors will depend on the scope and vision of what the user is aiming to achieve. The decision to view infrastructure as a capital expenditure (CAPEX) or an operational one (OPEX) can be a key question. To determine the optimum choice when comparing relative costs of different solutions, each organization must evaluate their application needs; considering the various advantages of each solution type and their relative importance. Cost, ease of installation, moves and arrangements, current and any anticipated applications, and the expected life of the system are typically major decision factors.

Evaluating True Lifetime Infrastructure Costs

When evaluating cost, organizations should always think in terms of cost over the life of the network infrastructure, rather than only the initial installation cost. It is important to compare the cost to electronic hardware that will often be replaced several times over the lifetime of the infrastructure. Crucially, what may appear to be the lowest initial cost at the outset, is not always the cheapest in the long run. Plus once the contract is placed it is difficult to change. To make a truly considered judgement on costings and expenditure, you should account for the following:

  • Initial installation cost: Ensure that this adequately covers the specification to avoid unwanted extras and performance restrictions.
  • Administration:  Is the network able to be easily and inexpensively reconfigured?
  • Support: Will the infrastructure support ever increasing bandwidth and data rates in the future
  • Maintenance: What are costs and  efforts required to keep the system operating?
  • Life cycle value:  Are you ensured of a warranty covering the applications and hardware?

Looking at all these considerations clearly, the cost of infrastructure should be viewed as one part of the overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the network. Infrastructure is generally required to outlast any other IT technology by some considerable time, due largely to the expense and disruption to the business if required to be changed. However it is at the same time, one of the areas where a small percentage of the overall IT budget is spent (this may be more significant spend in particular areas like Datacenters).

3 Key Infrastructure Requirements

So what parameters should an installed infrastructure solution meet? In my view it must meet three main requirements:

  1. It must provide users with access to communications equipment irrespective of their location within a region, area or building.
  2. It must facilitate change control, so that users can be moved and move around, retaining access to their networking requirements, without incurring significant costs.
  3. It must protect the original cost investment by being flexible enough to support the evolution of communication technology without costly re-cabling.

Of course there are many other considerations to bear in mind when comparing and considering infrastructure solutions. Securing the best-fit solution for price, performance and quality relies upon the engineer’s expertise to understand best practice infrastructure design, installation and more. To be certain in your own abilities, CommScope’s range of Passive Infrastructure Specialist courses cover everything from broadband and wireless infrastructure fundamentals, to infrastructure design and much more. See all the course listings here.  

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