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Navigating Supply Chain Issues in IT

Recently, working in the IT industry has been challenging. From major layoffs in tech to processor and microprocessor supply chain shortages, maintaining a secure network and infrastructure is becoming increasingly difficult. Networking equipment has been hit the hardest, with no manufacturer remaining immune. Regardless, operations cannot stop due to supply chain shortfalls. In this article, we will explore a few strategies that Vancord utilizes to overcome supply chain issues, backups, and delays.


Engineer working on IT and technical supplies

Recently, working in the IT industry has been challenging. 

Big players like Amazon, Azure, and Google are not only shedding jobs, but there is also a massive supply chain shortage, specifically in the processor and microprocessor space. 

What requires a processor? Everything from your smartwatch and your smart fridge to network-connected devices such as switches, routers, and firewalls. Network equipment has been hit the hardest, with no manufacturer remaining immune. Six-month lead times for product delivery now seem the norm in the industry. Regardless, operations cannot stop due to supply chain shortfalls. Read on for a few strategies that the experts at Vancord employ when working with our customers to overcome these backups and delays.

Make Your Equipment Last Longer

Making your current equipment last longer may seem like an easy solution; however, one needs to consider the potential pitfalls. From a business perspective, this can be a discussion about risk. Once your hardware is outside the manufacturer’s warranty coverage, relying on that equipment to run your production network or applications becomes a real challenge. On-the-shelf spares or built-in active redundancy makes this proposition more plausible. 

Let’s explore that idea further. Here are some tactics you can employ on your switch infrastructure to ensure they are running optimally and, in some cases, get additional months or years out of them:

  1. Always keep firmware and software up to date, including specific enhancements to performance/capacity, which can lengthen life expectancy.
  2. Utilize Link Aggregation (LAG) allows you to bundle multiple physical ports together to create a single logical link. This strategy can increase the bandwidth and provide redundancy.
  3. Prioritize traffic to ensure critical applications and services receive the bandwidth they need. You can use Quality of Service (QoS) to prioritize so that high-priority traffic gets the bandwidth it needs.
  4. Utilize Virtual LANs (VLANs) to segment your network and reduce congestion. Separating different types of traffic onto different VLANs will reduce the amount of broadcast traffic and improve overall network performance.
  5. Utilize VLAN tagging to assign multiple VLANs to a single port. Doing so will increase the number of VLANs you can support on your switches.
  6. Utilize port mirroring to mirror traffic from one port to another. Port mirroring can help monitor and troubleshoot network issues.
  7. Utilize traffic shaping to control the rate at which traffic is sent and received on a specific port. Traffic shaping can help ensure your network does not become overloaded during high-traffic periods.
  8. Utilize Access Point (AP) Licensing – Many switches have options for purchasing AP licenses, which can increase the number of APs connected to a switch.

Invest in Cloud Services

Cloud services have changed the IT landscape, and frankly, companies that do not include Cloud solutions in their overall strategy are missing out. Vancord works with organizations of varying industries and sizes that employ different IT strategies and techniques. However, we have discovered that all of our clients can benefit from leveraging Cloud solutions for their IT needs. While the approach will need to be tailored to individual company needs, its inclusion is a strategy that should be universally incorporated.

Let’s look at an example:

Assume for a minute that you are the newly minted CIO of a mid-sized company where for the last 50 years, the IT manager viewed the “Cloud” as fundamentally “insecure.”  So everything is running on-premise, backed up to tapes that are then shipped to Iron Mountain. The demand on your aging internal IT resources is increasing and not set to diminish. You begin a review of needed equipment to perform a network and server refresh. That’s when you discover there is an eight-month waiting list for switches and a six-month waiting list for the required servers. 

The solution? Look to the cloud. 

By moving even half the server infrastructure up to your cloud of choice, you can reduce the load on the network and can repurpose network equipment. While you are still reliant on the network, this affords flexibility through work-from-home strategies, on-the-shelf network spares, and allows you to maintain your network on the far side of this supply chain shortage.

Plan Early and Often for Hardware Lifecycle Refreshes

In summary, invest in technology to support your company and, most importantly, leverage that technology to drive innovation. You will find that beating the supply chain issues is just one outcome of a good planning strategy. Companies, irrespective of industry, can benefit greatly from a specific IT budget and plan that incorporates the needs of all aspects of the business. Learn more about how our team can help bring your infrastructure to life to enhance processes, reduce delays, and achieve goals.

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