Your network works, right? So what’s there to worry about? Well actually, quite a lot.
It goes without saying that these days, almost all businesses and organisations rely on their IT for virtually everything. And the network is the backbone on which all their IT services depend.
Despite this, many businesses and organisations have either inappropriate hardware and/or software, or appropriate infrastructure that has not been optimally configured, secured or managed.
One of the main reasons for this is that IT is a fast-moving world, and today’s networks - and the context they are operating in - are substantially different from those of even a decade ago.
Because of our ever-increasing reliance on IT, more and more is at stake — from your company’s e-commerce system, to its CCTV network and HR records. But that poses a question. Has your network kept up with the demands being imposed on it? And if not, will you keep your job if something goes wrong?
Why is network performance so important?
There are three main answers to this question: performance, reliability and security.
If your network isn’t up to scratch, performance will definitely be affected. Software is becoming increasingly sophisticated, and employees use more of it, so the demands placed on networks are bigger than ever - especially for companies or organisations that need to process large data sets.
In turn, network behaviour has an impact on the operation of all your computers. Therefore, if you want to maximise productivity by ensuring that all your applications run as intended, you need to minimise latency - meaning delays or interference - in your network. To do this, you need a way of analysing network traffic and resource utilisation.
The productivity of your staff will be increased when you are able to analyse your network and provide real-time information to those who need it. That visibility can be provided by tools that can highlight problems as they occur.
Network outages can have both direct and indirect costs on your business. These can include (but are not limited to) lost sales revenue, lost employee productivity, potential IT recovery costs, ripple effects along the supply chain and damage to your brand or customer loyalty.
Make sure your network is designed with reliability and redundancy in mind. This provides the business continuity you’ll need to bounce back quickly from unforeseen circumstances.
According to research by CA Technologies, IT outages are surprisingly frequent amongst European companies. On average, they:
- Suffer an average of 14 hours of IT downtime every year
- Lose 552 man hours per year dealing through IT downtime and data recovery
- Estimate that their staff can work at less than two thirds of their normal productivity (63%) during periods when business critical systems are interrupted
Networks often develop organically as organisations grow and change. The result of that can be that networks retain legacy configuration, which may not comply with security mandates and best practice. This can result in compromised security.
The answer is twofold; to implement a next generation solution which automatically detects and deals with cyberattacks, and to ensure that any legacy systems are either replaced or fully patched so that any vulnerabilities cannot be exploited by hackers.
Network access security is another issue - do you know exactly who can access and make changes to the various parts of your network.
Worried? What should you do?
Your first step should be to pull together an overview of your network. The easiest way to do this is to run through a series of questions that will enable you to get an idea of your overall networking situation.
Some sample questions you need to answer are:
- Do you have visibility and control over who is making changes to switches?
- Are all switches’ CPU utilisation at an acceptable level, and not close to recommended thresholds? (35-40% is acceptable)
- Does the network design allow for sufficient resiliency in the event of hardware failure?
- Do you have a breakdown of all VLANs in use and what they’re used for?
There is no gentle way to say this: you could lose your job if you don’t stay on top of your network. Times have changed, and you need to make sure that your network has kept up. If it hasn’t, there could be serious repercussions.
The easiest way to find out if you need to make improvements is to run through a checklist designed to identify any issues concerning the reliability, performance and security of your network. This will help you establish if you are have done everything you can to maximise future uptime and network availability, and are operating your network to according to best practice.