What are some of the secrets for a successful mega-network installation? Whether you install small to medium, large or mega-networks, these five pre-installation and planning best practices will help make your next network installation a successful one.
A good installation, large or small, starts with planning. Firstly, you need to spend a lot of time understanding the customer’s current AND future needs, as well as understanding technology trends, to build a road map from which to build the network infrastructure. Not all of it will be built at once, but can be deployed over time. Unlike a small network, a large network requires a substantial investment and change out can be costly. Therefore, it is critical that the network be future-proofed to meet the needs of the customer now and in the future, even if they don’t know what the future holds.
Second, implement a sound project management plan and a governance structure for resolving issues and conflicts. Mega projects involve a lot of different technologies, vendors, and integration points. Problems will always come up, but in a complex mega project, it is not always obvious where the issue comes from, and resolution may require coordinated action across multiple technologies with multiple vendors.
Third, many installers tend to underestimate how much time is required to set up and deploy a mega network. As a result, they end up absorbing the cost of the extra hours. Mega networks are complex and have far more integration issues compared to the common install. Changes midway through the project may have system ramifications downstream. Proper project planning, including accounting for project creep and scope changes, and adding in an extra buffer of time for unforeseen circumstances, should be incorporated. In high-budget projects, the installer can set up a contractual arrangement to address the scenario in case a project deployment takes longer than expected.
Fourth, many mega projects are done off-site – including setup in racks, integration, and testing (to the extent possible). The racks are then shipped fully-assembled to the project site, where they are integrated into the rest of the system. It can be advantageous when certain tasks are done offline in a controlled environment ahead of time, where work can be fully tested. This may not always be possible in all projects, but if possible, would make for a simplified installation.
Fifth, select equipment vendors carefully. Unlike smaller projects, mega projects have more robust requirements, and more than likely will require enterprise-grade equipment. Not all enterprise-grade equipment provides enterprise-level performance. Make sure to know the difference. Make sure to know what types of warranties, technical support, and software upgrades you are eligible for. Enterprise grade equipment is priced at a premium, but you get what you pay for. It’s no use saving a few dollars, then finding out the equipment can’t support the customer’s needs, or incurring more expenses in installation costs because the technical support is not sufficient to get you through the installation.
What are some your best practices, lessons learned and tips for a successful installation? Tell us and share your experiences here.