When asked about what to look for in a network infrastructure solution, my starting points are usually performance and quality. Feedback from our studies show that these are the top two, however, price or cost is always not far behind.

No surprise there you might say, however the words ‘price’, ‘cost’ andvalue’can all mean very different things depending on the scope and vision of what the user is aiming to achieve. The recent blog post by one of my colleagues, Jim Hulsey, illustrated examples of how ‘You get what you pay for’.

To compare the relative costs and merits of different solutions, each organization must evaluate their application needs, considering the various advantages of each solution type and their relative importance. Cost, ease of installation, moves and arrangements, current and anticipated applications, and the expected life of the system are typically major decision factors.

When evaluating cost, organizations should always think in terms of cost over the life of the network infrastructure, rather than only the initial installation cost. Also compare the cost to electronic hardware that will often be replaced several times over the lifetime of the infrastructure. The lowest initial cost is not always the cheapest or best value in the long run, however, once the contract is placed it is difficult to change.

Considering cost should include the following:

  • Initial installation cost, ensuring it covers adequately the specification to avoid unwanted extras and performance restrictions

  • Administration, the network’s ability to be easily and inexpensively reconfigured

  • The ability to support ever increasing bandwidth and data rates in the future

  • Maintenance, the effort required to keep the system operating

  • Life cycle value, the assurance of a warranty covering the applications and hardware

The cost of infrastructure should be viewed as part of the overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the network. Infrastructure is generally required to outlast any other IT technology by some considerable time, due largely to the expense and disruption to the business if required to be changed. However it is at the same time one of areas where a small percentage of the overall IT budget is spent, although in particular areas like Datacenters this may be more significant.

Any installed infrastructure solution should in my view meet three main requirements:

  • Provide users with access to communications equipment irrespective of their location within a building or area

  • Facilitate change control, so that users can be moved around a building, retaining access to their networking requirements, without incurring significant costs.

  • Protect investment by being flexible enough to support the evolution of communication technology without costly re-cabling.

Many more important considerations probably come to mind, so please feel free to express your views.

About the Author

James Donovan

James Donovan is Vice President of the CommScope Infrastructure Academy. James joined CommScope in 1993 and has held positions in Sales, Technical, Marketing, Training and Business Development and served most recently as VP of Digital and Creative Services for CommScope. James oversees the CommScope Infrastructure Academy, which is CommScope’s partner and customer training platform. Prior to joining the company, he held positions at GEC, ITT and Alcatel. He holds a Masters Degree in Engineering and a BSc Honors degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

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