The network is widely regarded as the most important asset in modern business – unfortunately, it is often the Achilles Heel for companies as it could be the most common point of failure. 

The scenario is made worse because of poor planning and lack of insight. This adds to the pressure on businesses to keep up with the high level of growth within the network space.
Faults are often undetermined and, once ‘fixed’, often re-occur at a later stage, writes Paul Luff, country manager of SMC Networks South Africa.
The fact is that all too often networks are compromised by “installers” not knowing the limitations and rules governing Ethernet.
Let me offer a practical example. Last week an irate reseller called to say that a product had caused the network to fail and he would never purchase this brand again. The distributor wisely did not pass a credit forcing the reseller to use the product – obviously this did not solve the problem and I was called in to rectify the issue.
I am no networking guru but understand the fundamentals controlling Ethernet from the protocols to the physical cabling layout.
Upon closer inspection, I discovered that the reseller had connected the switch to a point which was installed by the original supplier.
Everything looked okay on paper, but when the switch was connected, there was no connectivity established to the server. We swapped it for another brand and this made no difference.
We then went into the ceiling to trace the cable and found an extra 100m of Cat5 cable, including the existing 200m from the point of origin. Once the excess cable had been removed, it worked perfectly.
I was asked to solve a similar situation, but this time when one switch was activated, the other did not log on, and visa versa.
In this case a dry wall separated the offices and someone had “sort-of” spliced the connection with one point on the one side of the wall and the other on the other side of the wall. This cannot work.
The fact is that the laying of cable is straightforward and making it work is just as easy – one simply needs to comply with the standards.
“The cheapest quote wins the deal scenario” is a recipe for disaster. An installation that appears fine from the outside may just be the one that gets the nod, but did the installer know what he was doing?
Did he recommend fibre between floors or go the cheapest route? We now check blown switches and all too often we find that the cause was a power issue – why should we suffer the loss when the proper installation and recommendations would have prevented the issue in the first place?
Cabling is the most overlooked part of an IT infrastructure. This lack of foresight and real planning has resulted in mission-critical infrastructure management issues for users, especially within an unmanaged network environment.
Take into consideration power fluctuations through lines within a multiple workgroup cascaded network. Any power glitch on a product manifests itself throughout the entire network, except where fibre is being used.
At present there is not enough fibre cabling being used in the market and this impacts negatively on the creation of cost-efficient networks.
A logical and strategic approach to network design will ensure a faster, more robust, more streamlined infrastructure that can handle performance requirements.
Explain the issues to your client. Describe the installation, tell them the reasons you should use fibre, and explain the more expensive connections.
If the customer then still goes the opposite route, walk away with the knowledge that he will be back.