Tech industry jargon like unified communications, cloud computing, next generation, etc., is easy to write but often difficult to explain. At the risk of confusing technology lingo further, let me add another concept, Unified Infrastructure, with an explanation.
The physical network infrastructure that supports all data and voice communication consists of the wires (copper and fiber), outlets, switch hardware, power supplies, servers, wireless access points, voice switches, firewalls, and more. The logical network is the “telephone book” that assigns a number (IP Address) to every device on the physical network so that each user and device may connect to applications, printers, email, the internet and increasingly other “things”.
Network infrastructure is generally transparent to most users except on those occasions when it doesn’t work See Note 1. The wide area network which connects buildings or offices is also a critical component of the infrastructure for multi-site businesses, municipalities and K-12 schools which must connect multiple buildings. Network infrastructure has often evolved by “fits and starts”, especially in older buildings that are more difficult to retrofit, such as K-12 schools.
Unified Infrastructure is a planning process that anticipates growth (devices and bandwidth), service level demands, new applications, security, disaster recovery, policy changes, and compliance with state & federal statutes (present and future). IT industry leaders like Microsoft, Cisco and HP introduce new hardware and software products with 5 to 7 year life cycles. Advances in technology, new or updated industry standards, the internet and the adoption of mobile computing are compressing product life cycles even further to 3 to 5 years. The Unified Infrastructure planning process should take into account tech industry lifecycles and refresh plans accordingly.
K-12 education, municipalities and small business IT departments are often understaffed so engaging a third party to assist in the Unified Infrastructure planning process is essential. Experienced IT professionals understand industry best practices, standards, and the need to build redundant infrastructure to meet service level goals.
Dale Bruckhart is Vice President for Public Sector Sales & Marketing, Advanced Corporate Networking, d.b.a, Digital BackOffice. He can be reached at 203-874-5545 Ext. 118 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the website at www.digitalbackoffice.com
Note1 See 10/21/15 blog post, “IT is Confusing, But When IT Doesn’t Work, It’s Clear to Management” http://www.digitalbackoffice.com/category/in-the-media/