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Issue of June 2003 
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Hardware
Firming up the backbone

When choosing the building blocks for your network, plan for future capacity requirements

Networking is an essential element of a connected enterprise, regardless of the vertical. So vital is networking for any enterprise with ERP or even basic messaging, that even minimal downtime can impact business. Hubs, switches, routers and structured cabling are the core network building blocks. Almost all respondents have already invested in some or all of these components.

But spending on networking hardware is clearly on the decline.

Most of the respondents planning to invest in networking gear are from the medium or large enterprises. These are typically companies that are extending the existing LAN/WAN or going in for a new WAN.

The number of companies investing in Hubs during 2003-2004 has dropped to 39 percent. Companies are gradually replacing hubs with unmanaged switches, since the cost of unmanaged switches has dropped sharply.

Investment in Switches and Routers is also dropping this year. 50 percent of the respondents plan to invest in Switches and 43 percent plan to invest in Routers this year. Since it is mainly the small and medium companies who are making these investments, we can assume that the large companies are not planning to make any significant changes to the existing WAN this year, due to cuts in spending. Ditto for structured cabling: 42 percent plan to invest in structured cabling for 2003-04.

Among the three cabling options available (Fiber, Co-axial and Structured Cabling), Structured Cabling is the most cost effective option. Fiber is better than structured cabling (in terms of bandwidth), but because of its high cost it's used mainly on the backbone.

Those using bandwidth intensive applications (like CAD/CAM or multimedia authoring), or are planning to build new networks with provision to manage additional capacity, should go in for CAT-6 cabling.

For high-speed networks do consider the pros and cons of both, pure Fiber and Optical Ethernet.

Network Printers are increasingly being used as a shared resource in workgroups. 67 percent of the respondents have already invested in network printers and 37 percent plan to do so this year.

When choosing a network printer CIOs should consider the volume of print jobs, number of users on the network, and type of applications that require printing. Do you need extra features like duplex printing (both sides), printing on various media (transparencies, photographic paper etc)? You'll be paying extra for each of these features.

Also consider printer speed (pages per minute), whether you need color, and the amount of printer memory.

 
     
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