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Transitioning from a small to medium-sized business: choosing the right network solution is key

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When a small business needs to grow to a medium enterprise, the challenge for company directors is to balance growth with the increased costs of managing the enterprise network.

 

Everything from operational process changes and succession planning, to equipment, software and data handling has to be considered, and the more geographically distributed the company becomes, the greater the potential for something to go wrong. While there are countless schools of thought to growing a business, it can be hard to find detailed advice about ICT infrastructure management.

 

The Australian Government, for instance, publishes a useful guide to growing a business, but the advice is necessarily generic and more strategic in nature. It fails to identify tactical issues such as what to look for in your network platform as a part of any growth strategy.

 

Police Bank - Case Study
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When the former Police Credit Union transitioned to the Police Bank - subsequently growing the number of retail outlets to serve its existing customers as well as attracting a new customer base of non-police employees - its particular challenge was data access and management via a wide area network (WAN). This kind of problem is common amongst professional services organisations dealing with a high volume of transactions. But again, it's not covered in most guides to growing a business.

 

Failure to address the supply of sufficient bandwidth and in choosing the right network can open up the risk of data congestion and reduced speed of transactions, as well as potential data backup and security problems - all of which can negatively impact customer experience.

 

The logical course of action in addressing the network best suited to enabling the IT department is to consult with a network service provider for the best balance of data protection, application access and speed of transfer. The aspects of a high-performance network that should be included in assessment of various solutions for a growing business include:

 

  • Network infrastructure between data centres and offices/outlets
  • Software architecture
  • Traffic shaping and monitoring
  • Backup systems
  • Application support systems
  • Security

 

In the case of the Police Bank, their network solution involved high speed Uecomm Ethernet over Fibre links for the bank's key data centres, and lower speed Ethernet in various offices and branches, as well as a 3G mobile backup service. It's a customised solution for the specific transactional needs of the organisation. The solution helped reduce infrastructure complexity for the firm and kept overall costs down.

 

It should be a priority for CIOs to communicate effectively with systems administrators and network service providers to ensure that the best solution is pursued for any growing enterprise. Good ICT infrastructure should reduce both infrastructure complexity and operational costs and be scalable to suit future business growth. For a transitioning business, that's crucial to company success.

 

Are you part of a medium-large enterprise? Do you have any war stories about your network transition from a smaller business? What changes were needed in your company to effectively support customer needs? Please tell us in comments below.

 

By Enzo Cocotti, Director of Fixed Products & Services, Optus Business. More from Enzo on Twitter: @Enzo_X1

 

All views expressed are the author's own.