Moving to a new office is never easy. With so much to consider and account for, we often find ourselves rushing to be fully operational again.
Here are some important items to consider when moving in and getting settled to your new space. Keep in mind that moving to a new office is a chance to start fresh, optimize your network, and create an even more secure work environment. We’ve taken the time to list some elements to consider at both stages of your move to ensure everyone is satisfied working in their new workspace.
Before You Move
Inventory Everything: Whether it’s a series of spreadsheets or an elaborate inventory management software, it is critical to take a stock of your infrastructure before and after it moves. Having this inventory will not only help with loss prevention, but helping determine your entire network and hardware deployment plan for your new office. Work with your engineering or IT teams to help decide core needs such as power outlet totals, amount of Wireless Access Points required to set up for adequate network coverage, and core server needs such as temperature regulation.
Most companies when fully deployed in a new office often take immediate inventory and compare the differences from their findings. This will also set up your finance department to help find and correct any potential loss you may have. When taking inventory, try to be as detailed as possible and record core inventory pieces such as individual blades on servers or PDU’s. It may seem unlikely with a large metal rack but entire prod servers have gone missing just from a misplaced box exchanging multiple hands.
Wired Vs. Wireless Capacity: In my experience the most overlooked factor in preparing for your move is determining how many total devices that will be connecting. More importantly determining how many wired devices will be moving in, requiring permanent ethernet connectivity. While most companies may be prepared hardware and server wise, the issue most likely will lie with how many wall ports the new office will have. I’ve seen plenty of businesses set up temporary switches or extremely long ethernet cables in common areas to account for devices while waiting for construction due to a lack of power and ethernet ports.
Flex Your Backups: Simply put, make sure you backup and test your recovery methods before disconnecting your current environment.
Once Moved In
Printers, Scanners, and Communication Devices: The biggest items to test are often the most commonly used. Phones, printers, and scanners often in common areas have the trickiest setup process as they often require special configurations like setting up a brand new VLAN or individual user registration. Even for companies that may have open access for all users to print, often the issue lies in communicating with other floors or areas. Having this area of your deployment plan covered enables the entire office to hit the ground running from day 1 which is invaluable.
Testing Tools: Lastly I wanted to leave you with some of the types of tools often used in site moves that help determine your network’s flaws and potential. Now that the move has occurred and your basic network has been deployed. It’s time to perform some checks to see if all areas of your office can be optimized for network coverage.
Speed Testing: First off, testing the overall speed of your network before your workforce returns can show the potential speed for your office. While this number may fluctuate, it will give you an acceptable range to strive for and to provide your engineering team with should it fall drastically. This can also act as a check for your ISP to make sure that the speeds you were promised are being delivered before other factors are introduced.
There are a lot of speed testing websites to choose from, however we recommend running test sites such as Speedtest and Fast multiple times to help determine average upload/download speeds. Test in multiple locations as problem areas or dead zones are found using other tools. Multiple factors such as WAP distance and signal interference can come into play making a common area or conference room provide poor signal.
Network Traffic Testing - A vital tool before, during, and after you move. These applications perform multiple tasks, but most notably they run performance stress testing on your network. Loading as many pages and sources until the network begins to show degradation. Often these come in the form of packet sending applications or automatic page loading tools that run in cycles. You can even target a specific server or address to make sure it’s safe from repeated access attempts or even Denial of Service attacks.
There are many Network testing services available and the right choice depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Some services are offered as a browser based solution to scan a certain device when needed. While other solutions are fully integrated into your environment often living physically as a device on your network with rebound the clock monitoring. Consult your engineering team to work out what vital components need to be met.
Port Scanner - Running a port scanning program is vital both on arrival and when your workforce is back up and running. These programs help determine what ports or hosts are open/closed and more importantly what can be accessed both internally and externally. This is the most common method for investigation for hackers as they can see network vulnerabilities and create a plan of attack or entry via any open port. This is crucial for your security and IT teams to perform as soon as possible when moving into a new location.
WiFi Analyzer - One of the most common tools used in the field for us is a WiFi analyzer. These help identify how the WiFI is performing in a very specific area. When utilized they provide vital statistics in an area like the signal strength and how many devices are connected in that location. Running an analyzer in congested areas such as conference rooms or well insulated rooms can show poor performance may be configuration based or simply a need to set up another access point to reach the network.
WiFi scanners can also show you wider issues such as signal interference, radio channel overlapping, and data rate or transfer abnormalities. inSSIDer is one of our favorite tools for both Mac & PC users as it's free (with email signup) and one of the most comprehensive tools available. When arriving at any location, this tool is vital to open at the start of our work so that we can check for common holdbacks and optimize the network.
As your office gets back up to speed, it’s important to know that all the tools and methods listed above still remain very useful moving forward. Having teams checking on the speed and reliability of your network will only pay benefits to your entire organization. A simple but important last tip would be to take the time to document and pass on the methods used by your teams. This can help teach future staff and be a reference tool for what is the best network configuration helping in times where we all wonder “Is it me or is it the network?”
We hope this guide helps you in any way and cheers to your new space!