Our Desktop Support Team (which I'll call "EUPS" from here on--for End User Platform Support) rarely unpatches data cables from switches when PC's or printers or other devices move or are retired. That results in switches and blades with potentially many ports patched, and nothing using those ports.
That's a waste of money.
When someone has a new device to add to a network, possibly requiring a new data drop to be pulled to the network room, and there's no open ports on a stack of switches or in a chassis switch, we've got few options:
- Tell the customer "Sorry--there's no room in the inn." You know that won't float.
- Tell the customer "Sorry, we're out of network switch ports, and no one in your department budgeted for adding a new switch or blade (between $5K and $8K, depending on the hardware). When you can come up with the funds, we'll order the hardware and install it. Probably in three weeks, if you get the funds to us today." Nope, that won't float either--although sometimes we have to play hard ball to ensure folks think before they add new devices to a network.
- Take a new/spare switch from inventory, install it, and take heat from up above for not planning adequately. Naw, that's not right, either.
- Run Rick's Favorite Report #1 and find which ports haven't been used in a year, have EUPS unpatch them, and then patch in the new devices. TAH-DAH! Money saved, customer up and running right away, budget conserved, resources reused--we're the Facilitators that make things happen instead of the No-Sayers that are despised.
So how does this magical report work? Easily and efficiently! Check out how to build it here: https://thwack.solarwinds.com/docs/DOC-188091
Once it's built for a switch, it's easily modified to change switches--just change the switch name in the title, and change the switch name in Datasource1, and run the report.
My team uses this almost every day, and I bet I use it weekly. How many switches has this saved us from buying, how many ports have we been able to reuse? Let's say we use it only twice a week. That's over a hundred ports every year that are repurposed at no cost! And since they're typically in different network rooms, you might say we avoid having to buy between fifty and a hundred new switches or blades every year.
A network switch port costs about $169 (including 10/100/1000/POE) if it's in a high-density high-availability chassis switch that's fully populated, and about the same if it's in a stackable switch.
So the actual cost of 50 ports X $169 = $8,450. That's not too bad since it's money not spent for recovered ports. 100 ports is $16,900. Not insignificant, and not something you want to waste.
But let's build a worst-case scenario:
- Every port on a switch is used
- You have to buy another switch every time someone needs to patch something new into the network.
- 50 devices X $5K per switch is a QUARTER MILLION DOLLARS.
- Perhaps a more realistic approach: Suppose your ports aren't so perfectly mispatched. Maybe only every tenth port to be patched requires adding another switch. So if you find 100 ports incorrectly patched, you'd spend up to $80K on additional switches.
Some organizations offer a bonus to employees who discover and recommend process changes that result in significant cost decreases to the company, and the company bonus could be equal to 10% to 25% of the annual savings. If someone offered me 25% of $80K for saving the company from having to buy more switches every year, I'd be all over that!
And this easy Solarwinds report does it for free. Did the money saved pay for something significant to the company? Did you get a juicy bonus for your money-saving suggestion?
p.s.: This report ALSO saves unnecessary downtime--we don't end up guessing about the purpose of a port, and unpatching and repurposing mission critical ports that are only used once every few months or years--because we label those ports in the switches. The report includes those labels in its output along with how long the ports have been down. It even displays them by length of down time, from longest to shortest. Schweet!