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FAQ

 

Have questions about what is involved in a network refresh for your organization? Or what an IT consulting company actually does? All of those answers and more are beyond! But please reach out if you have any other questions, we would love to hear from you! CONTACT US

How much will a network refresh cost?

 

Refreshing your network is an opportunity to clean-up legacy configurations, remove old hardware, and improve connectivity speeds and incorporate modern technology. It can also be a daunting task, with so many manufacturers and architecture options its hard to settle on an approach let alone determine a budget.

The first step in determining cost is to layout your high-level requirements, below we have laid out a few points to think about.

  • How many IDF’s will you have in your office?
  • How will the IDF’s be connected? (Multimode fiber, Single mode fiber?)
  • If existing fiber exists will it support modern speeds?
  • How many users and or devices will be connected?
  • What are the feature requirements for the network? (encryption, routing, POE, authentication)
  • Is there sufficient power conditioning and or UPS?
  • Do you require installation services?

With all these variables it makes it challenging to provide a cost you can use to establish a budget. However, we have attempted to provide a simple way to estimate cost for the hardware and installation services. This cost does not include the deployment of new racks, installation of cabling or power conditioning. It just accounts for the networking gear and associated services.

Cost per port or per ethernet connection: $146.00/Port

Installation services per port: $70.00/Port

So a network with:

  • MDF
    • 4 x 48 Port Switches
  • IDF 1
    • 2 x 48 Port Switches w/ POE
  • IDF 2
    • 2 x 48 Port Switches w/ POE

Would cost about $56,000 in hardware and about $26,880 in installation services. These estimates are general and are intended to provide a budget. Security services and advanced integration can add to the cost of a deployment.

If you would like help designing a network or would like to talk with our networking experts schedule a free consultation.

P.S. We aim to take the stress out of a network deployment so you can focus on the big picture.

 

How much does a wireless assessment cost?

 

Wireless surveys are great to determine the current RF profile in your specific use case and measure connectivity levels within your building. A survey can expose wireless coverage gaps and low signal strength seen by clients. This information will provide wireless performance information for buildings and areas where wireless service is critical to business operation. Surveys can be leveraged where you want to ensure wireless performance is optimal or there is an existing wireless performance issue.

Predictive surveys leverage a floor map and software to predict the behavior and performance of the wireless network. Predictive surveys are leveraged when deploying a new wireless network or moving to a new office. We highly recommend leveraging a predictive wireless survey to identify AP placement in a building and to limit the possibility of a coverage gap.

So back to the question should you do a wireless survey, the answer really depends on the goals and challenges you are trying to solve. Below we have outlined when we would do it:

  • New wireless deployment: Predictive Survey
  • Wireless network refresh: Predictive Survey
  • Wireless performance issues: Wireless Survey and a Wireless Configuration Assessment
  • Critical wireless coverage areas: Wireless Survey

If you would like help with an assessment or would like to talk with our wireless experts schedule a free consultation.

P.S. During our wireless deployments we always leverage a predictive survey and most of the time this is all you need when deploying wireless in an office building.

 

What is a network assessment, and should I do it?

 

If you’re like most customers you are busy with new initiatives, office moves, acquisitions and one hundred other things, finding time to assess never seems to make it to the top of the list. However, ignoring it could have you driving to the office on Saturday to replace a failed power supply.

A complete network assessment will evaluate the current architecture, configuration, and lifecycle of your network. During the assessment we will identify configuration enhancements, call out single points of failure, and identify end of life hardware. Additionally, we will update network diagrams and document detailed device information.

The assessment deliverable will give you a list of items that should be addressed in order of importance to help you prioritize the work. It can also provide business justification to replace aging infrastructure or add redundancy where it is needed.

The network assessment provides a current snapshot with a list of actionable steps to improve the network. The goal is to improve security, prevent outages, and ensure best practice in the environment.

If you have not internally assessed your network environment in the last 18 months, we would recommend doing it internally or leveraging a solution provider to help.

If you would like help with an assessment or would like to talk with us schedule a free consultation.

P.S. In all our assessments we find at least one critical item that makes the assessment a worthwhile investment.

 

Should we consider a cloud phone system?

 

There are many benefits to leveraging a cloud voice system, the main benefit is maintenance. With a cloud UC or voice solution you or your team is not responsible for the maintenance of that system. This included software patching, server upgrades and support, and application redundancy. Additionally, you get the benefit of software enhancements as the provider rolls them out to its customers. In short, its less maintenance and less worry.

So what about the downsides? The first is cloud solutions are typically delivered over the top or over the Internet. While the Internet is stable and has proven to support voice, there is no guaranteed quality of service. So, you could experience poor audio quality, however codecs and bandwidth continue to improve. This concern is becoming less of a factor when considering a cloud voice solution but should be considered.

The second is features, typically on-premise voice solutions are feature rich. Its worth noting that your cloud solution may not have all the features of your on-premise solution. Things like paging, receptionist phones, attendant consoles, etc. may not be available or are limited in their features and capabilities.

The third is cost, cloud solutions bundle the hosting, the software, the service, and the PSTN connectivity in some cases. When you add all of those things together the price per user may be higher than what you are paying for your on-premise solution.

In short, if you have a typical voice deployment and want the simplicity of cloud it may be a good fit, just ensure you have done proper planning to ensure your features and functionality map to the new solution.

We assist customers through this decision-making process to find the best solution for their long-term goals. If you would like help deciding to go cloud or would like to talk with us schedule a free consultation.

P.S. Many customers are making the move to cloud voice, and it can be a great way to minimize maintenance while providing a great service to your users.

 

Should I renew Cisco SmartNet?

 

Cisco SmartNet provides your organization software updates and hardware replacement. There are many levels of support ranging from 2-hour onsite coverage to 8x5 next business day. You can apply different levels of coverage on your devices based on how critical that component is.

The question is should you get the support or not? There are several ways to look at it, but the simplest way is to ask the question, if this piece of equipment stopped working what does it mean to the business? Will the people connected to it or through it still be able to perform their job function? How will we replace the device and how long will it take? What is the impact of it being down for 1 or 2 days or more? What if there is a security notice and we need to update software?

If any of these questions had you feeling concerned, you should consider some level of support. The great thing about support is you can select the devices you cover and the level each device is covered.

Making the right support decision is critical to the operations of the business. You don’t want to buy more support than you need, however you don’t want to be scrambling when the VP of Sales comes in and asks, why do I have 35 sales reps that can’t quote orders?

We help customer navigate these decisions to ensure devices are covered with the correct amount of coverage. We have developed an asset management tool that provides you visibility of all your infrastructure. This enables you to make good SmartNet coverage decisions. If you would like help with SmartNet or would like to talk with us schedule a free consultation.

P.S. Most of our customers purchase SmartNet for their core infrastructure at a minimum. We would love to step through that process with you.

 

What is the best way to renew Cisco SmartNet?

 

Cisco SmartNet provides your organization software updates and hardware replacement. There are many levels of support ranging from 2-hour onsite coverage to 8x5 next business day. You can apply different levels of coverage on your devices based on how critical that component is.

So, what is the best way to renew support and how do I make sense of the list of devices my provider gave me? The short answer is you need to work with a provider that understands the challenges customers face when renewing their support.

The best way would be to have a platform that communicated what each device is, where its located and if its on the network. You could easily eliminate devices that have been decommissioned and devices that are covered or not covered. The ability to identify a device, if its on the network, and its location in the environment speeds up the decision-making process while minimizing coverage gaps.

At LookingPoint we do just that. We have developed an asset management tool that provides you visibility of all your infrastructure. This enables you to make good SmartNet coverage decisions. It simplifies the process and reduces the time you need to spend reviewing your coverage information. Our goal is to make the process easy and as painless as possible.

If you would like help with SmartNet or would like to talk with one of our renewal specialists schedule a call with us.

P.S. Acela (Our asset management tool) gives you the visibility you need to make coverage decisions with confidence. Let us show you how we can make it easy. 

 

What is a wireless survey, and do I need it?

 

Wireless surveys are great to determine the current RF profile in your specific use case and measure connectivity levels within your building. A survey can expose wireless coverage gaps and low signal strength seen by clients. This information will provide wireless performance information for buildings and areas where wireless service is critical to business operation. Surveys can be leveraged where you want to ensure wireless performance is optimal or there is an existing wireless performance issue.

Predictive surveys leverage a floor map and software to predict the behavior and performance of the wireless network. Predictive surveys are leveraged when deploying a new wireless network or moving to a new office. We highly recommend leveraging a predictive wireless survey to identify AP placement in a building and to limit the possibility of a coverage gap.

So back to the question should you do a wireless survey, the answer really depends on the goals and challenges you are trying to solve. Below we have outlined when we would do it:

  • New wireless deployment: Predictive Survey
  • Wireless network refresh: Predictive Survey
  • Wireless performance issues: Wireless Survey and a Wireless Configuration Assessment
  • Critical wireless coverage areas: Wireless Survey

If you would like help with an assessment or would like to talk with our wireless experts schedule a free consultation.

P.S. During our wireless deployments we always leverage a predictive survey and most of the time this is all you need when deploying wireless in an office building.

 

Why would I want a project manager and how does LP manage an IT project?

 

An IT project can be complex and have several moving pieces, tracking hardware delivery, coordinating team members, tracking issues and responsibilities and ensuring the users/customers are communicated to properly. These are all items that come up when managing a project.

LookingPoint leverages a project methodology that ensures project success while minimizing risk, we have developed this process through years of deployment experience and customer feedback. The process is repeated the same way on every project to ensure consistency and deliver a predictable outcome.

There are several phases during a project:

  • Kickoff
    • Establish a communication plan
    • Identify stakeholders
    • Review the business outcomes
    • Establish meeting cadence
  • Design
    • Review hardware / software purchased or involved
    • Review existing infrastructure
    • Develop new or integrated architecture
    • Develop implementation plan
  • Configuration
    • Stage and or configure infrastructure
  • Training
    • Administrator and or end user training
  • Installation and cutover

During a maintenance window install and or cutover to new infrastructure

  • Day two support
    • Provide support post cutover
  • Documentation
    • Provide documentation on the infrastructure and deployment
  • Project closure
    • Deliver project documents
    • Survey customer for feedback
    • Customer project signoff

During each of these phases the project manager is ensuring communication is being delivered to everyone involved, tracking issues along the way, and managing project risk. This frees the team to focus on delivering the technical aspects of the project without getting bogged down.

Great project management leads to better project results while minimizing risk. We would love to help you deliver your next IT project! If you would like more information on project management or would like to talk with us schedule a call.

 

Should I avoid fixed fee it seems expensive?

 

There are two type of billing approaches, fixed fee and time and materials. Each of these approaches has their place, let’s start with time and materials (T&M).

Time and Materials (T&M)

  • Time is billed as it is used, the rates and minimums are controlled through a rate table.
  • The project scope can grow or shrink dynamically based on customer request
  • The customer owns the budget and owns the risk if the project takes longer than expected.

Fixed Fee

  • The time aspect is replaced with an outcome or result, so you as the customer are paying an amount in exchange for a completed project.
  • The project scope is fixed; however, it can be modified through a change control process. The change control process can increase cost if growing the scope.
  • The budget and risk is with LookingPoint, meaning if it takes more effort to deliver a project, the customer pays the same amount regardless.

Fixed fee incorporates the estimated time, risk, and any other associated costs into a single amount. The amount is tied to a statement of work, which outlines what will be done in exchange for the fee. So, how do you decide?

  • If your project is definable with little variables, we would suggest fixed fee.
  • If your project has many unknowns and the scope is hard to define go with T&M.

The most common question we get about fixed fee is that it seems expensive and we understand. Often our newer engineers and sales professionals would question the cost and estimates, but after seeing hundreds of projects we know what it takes to deliver a successful project.  The question should be who do you want to own the budget risk? If you want LookingPoint to own the risk and deliver the outcome fixed fee is the way to go. If you want to own the budget and risk associated go T&M.

The great news is we give customers the option, which way makes the most sense for their business and individual project. Our experience shows that fixed fee is better for the customer approximately 82% of the time.

We would love to help you deliver your next IT project! If you would like more information on project management or would like to talk with us schedule a call.

 

How long does it take to start an IT project?

 

Starting an IT project is an exciting time, new equipment, new technology and an opportunity to clean-up legacy configuration. Most of our customers are eager to get started once they get approval from their organization to move forward. Below we have laid out a typical timeline you can use when planning your next IT project.

  • Professional services
    • The kickoff happens within two weeks from sig-noff
    • The project start is 1-2 weeks after kickoff

So projects start about 3 – 4 weeks after customer sign-off, however if your project needs to start fast we are flexible and have the ability to start sooner when our customers need faster response.

We would love to help you deliver your next IT project! If you would like more information on project management or would like to talk with us schedule a call.

 

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