What To Do With An Obsolete Network: Is Your Network Becoming a Shadow Of Its Old Self?

By Dori Erann 9 min read

One of the biggest challenges in long-term planning for network connectivity is the fast-changing pace of innovation and the launching of new products and technology. Organizations often find that after only a few years, their existing network has become obsolete and no longer supports their applications and connectivity requirements, leaving them lamenting for the ‘Good old days” when their network was new and reliable. Not to mention that support and repairs become a thing of the past, as vendors discontinue and End of Life (EOL) components.

What Are The Risks Of Running Obsolete Network?

As your network infrastructure reaches its ripe old age, there are several risks of continuing to operate obsolete networks. These include:

  • Additional costs result from breakdowns and service disruptions
  • Risk of security breaches of outdated platforms
  • Inability to innovate and support more advanced applications that can make you more efficient and protected
  • Once at End-of-Life, products are no longer being manufactured and cannot be replaced

Risks For Critical Infrastructure Entities: Old equipment can cause disruptions in communications and daily operations. When considering the vital services provided by public safety entities, utilities, municipalities, and other critical infrastructure organizations, downtime can quite literally put lives at stake. The ongoing network operations and communications of these entities is essential to their community’s daily lives and wellbeing.

Risks For operators and ISPs: Obsolete networks run the risk of degraded service performance, diminished revenues, lost customers, damaged reputation/bad reviews, seeping costs for equipment maintenance and repair, and increased number of truck roll-outs.

What Are Your Options To Deal With Or Avoid The Legacy Network Pitfalls?

It’s the same old story… you go through the lengthy process of testing, researching, and considering several network solutions. You finally land on the best fit and begin the deployment. Before you are even done, you are probably already reading articles on the next generation of products and features that are arriving on the market. This is a frustrating phenomenon. Like an old flame, your network starts off with so much promise and potential, but then begins to dwindle, and perhaps even end in disaster.

There are three different modes of thought when considering aging networks:

  1. Pay for full legacy equipment replacement: this is the most passive option. You deploy your network, keep it as optimized as possible, and then when it becomes obsolete, replace the entire network at once.

  2. Migrate to newer technology slowly as equipment fails: This option allows for a slower migration to future technology but will only work with a flexible solution that is backwards compatible, or is a multi-vendor solution so that you can combine components from two vendors onto one network.

  3. Advanced Network Service agreements that include equipment replacements and automatic upgrades: While this option may seemingly have the highest up-front cost, this option will probably save you the most money over time. This offers built-in protection so that as equipment ages, it will be replaced by new units when needed, and as equipment becomes obsolete, the replacements will be made with upgraded units.

With age, comes wisdom. The wisest choice you can make is to have this discussion with your wireless network vendor in advance. Find out what your options are. Discuss the risks. And make a plan to future-proof your network.

How To Build A Network That Is Future-Proof?

The time of old-school solutions is behind us. Organizations deploying sophisticated and innovative network technologies must consider how to go beyond the expected lifecycle and help significantly extend the life of their infrastructure, and investment.

Here are some tips:

  • Select a solution that uses products that are backwards compatible, and that can leverage existing infrastructure such as antennas and cables.
  • Negotiate an SLA agreement that includes upgrades to equipment as innovation changes, technology shifts, and products become obsolete
  • Plan a flexible and integrated network that can connect disparate systems and easily adopt new technology
  • Agility is key. Select solutions that have the ability to grow with you, quickly – whether that means scalability, modularity, or increased capacity.
  • Implement a redundancy and disaster recovery plan
  • Ensure you have a sound monitoring system in place to gauge the health of the network and be proactive in identifying equipment as it starts showing signs of weakness before arriving at full failure
  • Last but not least – opt for a Network-As-A-Service (NaaS) model. This will enable us to design, deploy, configure, monitor, manage, and operate your network. Giving you peace of mind that you always have a next-generation reliable network running. By outsourcing the full lifecycle of the network, with all hardware, software, licenses, and services, into one package, you can opt for an ongoing operational expense, avoid the capital expenditure, and leave the network headaches to the us - the experts.

How To Identify The Right Timing To Replace Obsolete Equipment?

The old-fashioned way to deal with aging equipment was simply to replace it. However, as equipment has gotten more sophisticated and expensive, and organizations are far more reliant on the seamless and secure operations of their networks, the replacement has gotten more complex as well. There are several key factors to consider when trying to identify the right time to replace an obsolete network. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Run a health analysis and risk assessment on the current network and all assets. Understand where the risks exist. Where failures are occurring, and at what rate. If equipment can be supported. Ask yourself what impact will a failure have on the network or operations? And are there security vulnerabilities?

  2. Break/Fix Tipping Point – your ongoing operations costs to support failing components will continue to grow and grow. At some point, the cost to attempt to support a network in decline will outweigh the cost of a replacement.

  3. Understand the vulnerability and risks posed to the organization and to the public. Once any risk becomes unacceptable or too great a new network should be considered.

  4. Identify new requirements. Analyze what new technology or applications are required for operations, and if they can be supported by the current network. For instance, IOT devices that may require additional capacity or lower latency.

  5. Budgets – what are your budget cycles, when can you allocate additional resources, is there government funding available to help with the costs

While they say that “50 is the new 20” (tell that to my back); with network infrastructure, it is the opposite – “10 is the new 50”. This means that a decade-old network is pretty much as old as the hills – weathered, aged, rugged, deteriorated, and distressed.

Ceragon Is Here To Help Rejuvenate Your Network Connectivity

Our team of experts can help you plan at the onset to avoid the age-old obsolete network conundrum. We can offer numerous paths to futureproof your network and avoid the pitfalls. If your network has already reached, or is about to reach, its decline or end of life, we can help you with a migration path or full replacement taking all your needs into consideration – timeline, budget, applications, existing infrastructure and licensing, and future goals. And this won’t be any old college try, our experts have years of experience and proof points where we have already changed the “old guard” (yes, I mean the old equipment) and rejuvenated the network, its usefulness, and its robustness (example: Yuba Water Agency and this Operator). Put network failures, rising maintenance costs, frustration, and higher risk in your past. Call us today.

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