Efficiency has become a key concern for many businesses across a wide range of industries, driven by the combination of a difficult financial climate and heightened awareness of environmental issues.
Companies are all too aware of the potential stigma that comes with not caring for the environment, which has mainly come about from a shift in attitudes from both customers and governments alike.
While a reckless attitude to energy consumption can be bad for business from a reputational point of view, it would be naive to suggest that the impact on the balance sheet itself is not the main concern for many firms.
The global financial crisis has left many businesses eager to make every penny count, particularly those that are looking to expand their operations and accommodate a higher level of subsequent demand.
Setting up a successful business network is in itself a hugely demanding task as it requires both time and resources, yet upgrading your system can be just as tricky and is therefore a common cause of efficiency loss.
Upgrades are often undertaken as part of wider expansion efforts that will allow the business network to cope with increased traffic.
A common school of thought is that more traffic can be solved by adding more bandwidth, yet this should never be seen as a quickfire solution.
An analysis by Radware's Yaron Azerual suggests that network congestion is not in itself a massive issue and that with the right level of management, particularly in cases where resources are limited, it can be possible to reduce problems such as packet loss or delays.
One of the key ways in which to manage bandwidth effectively is to ensure that enforcers have an extensive knowledge of each workflow and allocate bandwidth accordingly.
It can then be possible to implement a bandwidth function, which will help to classify traffic and make the process of addressing congestion on each channel much easier.
Use the right hardware
With greater levels of traffic comes a greater emphasis on reducing the risks of downtime.
Any loss of power within a network can have catastrophic consequences on productivity and performance, which in turn can burn a hole in the balance sheet.
A study conducted by IDC in July 2014 found that downtime can cost as much as £11,500 per hour for 80 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses, meaning it is crucial to have something to fall back on when problems do arise.
Uninterruptable power supplies (UPS) can help to provide a viable solution as it enables almost instantaneous protection from any power faults, utilising energy stored in other parts of the network.
Even the best models of UPS only contain enough power to last a few minutes, but this is often still enough to start another standby power source or properly shut down protected equipment.
However, it is still important to consider how it may affect your network's power consumption as some models offer better value than others.
For example, the Eaton Ellipse ECO is capable of producing energy savings of as much as 25 per cent in comparison to previous models, meaning that networks can protect their operational efficiency without eating up more energy.
The future of network efficiency
The progressive nature of efficiency means that there is unlikely to be any respite in new ideas being put forward.
Arguably one of the most exciting developments has come on the back of research from Bell Labs, the research arm of Alcatel Lucent.
Experts at the firm have suggested that converged IP/optical control integration could reduce the level of strain on network resources without compromising service availability.
Indeed, early estimates suggest the approach could reduce the demand network hardware by as much as 40 per cent, meaning that if the right infrastructure is put in place, ISPs and carriers can meet greater customer bandwidth demands with lower up-front costs.
This could soon be just the first in a wide range of new and exciting methods that will allow networks to run more efficiently than ever before.