Don’t Wait Until the Switch Dies…

The basis for technology is the network, which affects EVERYTHING.

Switches historically have only been replaced when they physically died, and firewalls kept around as long as the firmware could be updated.  In today’s world, that mentality needs to be revisited.  The amount of data being pumped through our corporate networks has increased exponentially and the CAPACITY of the network is often the cause of the bottleneck when things get “slow”.

When you have an older 10/100 switch the backplane (processing capacity) it is sized for handling less than the maximum load if all the ports where used at their individual maximum capacity.  So, even if your INTERNET connection is only 50Mbps and you have a 100Mbps switch you still have a bottleneck at the switch, especially if you have a lot of local network traffic.  This is really an issue with network-based storage and backup devices.  Have you ever experienced the once daily slowdown in the entire office when the backups run? I bet you have.

The same goes for firewalls. The ports may have a 1Gbps maximum throughput but the processing capacity of the firewall itself is much less.  The average ISP speed (Internet) to most offices today is 50Mb+, which means that you need to first consider your firewall’s TRUE processing capacity so that it doesn’t become the bottleneck.  Often the “advanced” services are turned off on the firewall to improve network responsiveness but this leaves the entire operation less secure!  To sum it up, a properly sized firewall keeps you both secure and fast!

The real lesson here is that you need to PLAN on replacing your networking gear about every five years.  Often this is an opportunity to deploy PoE (Power over Ethernet) gear, consolidate multiple older switches, and to upgrade to a modern firewall with advanced security features.  Don’t think just because it’s “working” everything is operating like it should be!