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Should You Buy More Bandwidth, or Manage What You Have Better?

bandwidth management

Is it just us or does it sometimes seem like there’s never enough bandwidth?

Users are constantly griping about how slow the internet is, and as an IT professional you have to figure out if you really need more bandwidth — or if what you already have can be managed better.

The good news is that both problems can be fixed. One solution just involves an investment of time, while the other demands cold hard cash to be resolved.

First, let’s start with the management aspect of going through the paces to manage your applications, users, and infrastructure so that you can better optimize your bandwidth dollars. The answers here are not cut-and-dried, and will likely vary based upon each customer’s needs, their level of knowledge, and the complexity of the network they maintain.

For example, consider you’re dealing with a customer who has very limited IT knowledge. A lack of expertise in bandwidth management means you would have to invest a significant amount of time to gather the information needed to analyze where their problem actually lies, and even more time to gain the knowledge and experience needed to fix the problem on your own.

The alternative is to outsource this project to a managed service provider (MSP), which will take a lot of discovery and then a sizable check will likely have to be written for their services to get the project done.

So for these types of customers with limited IT knowledge, it is probably more efficient to purchase bandwidth to keep the applications (and users) happy.

Now, let’s consider the example of an organization that has a dedicated IT staff. With in-house expertise able to make any necessary changes, it’s possible to examine the existing infrastructure and overall source of the bottleneck to see if the time your team will have to commit will justify the ends.

The trade off we constantly see with small IT shops is they have a large fire hose. The time it takes IT staff to manage, monitor, and optimize bandwidth utilization never makes it to the fire hydrant where the IT fire hose is connected.

An important consideration here is whether or not this project is as important as the other projects your IT staff is currently working on. If your IT team is flush with free time (very uncommon, we know), then this is a great project to take care of in-house. If poor user experience is greatly affecting productivity and the cost of upgrading circuits is high, then again this could be a great investment of time and manpower.

Only you can put a cost to downtime and your staff’s time. Evaluate what downtime is costing you (if you haven’t already), then consider how important this change is to your organization.

You have IT staff for a reason, but you also need to make sure their time is spent on the most important projects to your company’s overall needs.

If you work at a large/enterprise level company, then you probably have a deep IT bench. You may have personnel dedicated specifically to monitoring network traffic and performance for just this type of purpose. Make sure these personnel have the reporting tools they need and let them do what they are paid for!

The million-dollar question is:

What do those with no IT or limited IT do when faced with bandwidth bottlenecks? 

Typically, using an MSP to ensure your links/circuits are up and operational, as well as be notified when they are becoming saturated, allows you to make that all important decision whether to buy more bandwidth or start down the path of better managing your applications, users, and infrastructure so that you can optimize your bandwidth dollars.  There are also some good low-cost in-between steps that can be taken to bridge you over.

When in doubt, reach out to the bandwidth experts at EnableIP and let us guide you through the process of figuring out what it would take to better manage your WAN and explore cost effective alternatives to increasing bandwidth.

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