Whether you’re an MSP whose business is built around maintaining large fleets of hundreds of networks, or an enterprise supporting a large workforce requiring consistent network availability to function and grow, network management has become increasingly laborious and challenging. The boom in remote work and large-scale shift to cloud services has introduced even more complexity, with networks becoming larger and usage ballooning in scale.
IT teams today see more demand and strain than ever, working to maintain high levels of security while supporting heavy cloud network usage and troubleshooting network availability to provide seamless connectivity with low latency. From slow Wi-Fi and laggy Zoom calls to a total network outage, each issue that arises kicks off a complex process of identifying root causes, coming up with solutions, and implementing them as quickly as possible before the complaints start rolling in.
Waiting to deal with problems only after they arise is an unsustainable approach. It requires too much time and labor, negatively impacting your organization’s bottom line. Switching over to an early warning system is a much-needed way to reduce demands on network operations managers and offer better, faster service that customers desire and employees require in order to effectively do their jobs.
Our technology systems have glitches. It’s in their nature. For network admins, the job is to troubleshoot: to identify the issue and fix it as quickly as possible. The problem is that time is money, and the hours that pass between finding out that there is a problem and getting it fixed are expensive. To say nothing of the frustration endured by the people trying to use that technology to get their jobs done.
For MSPs, a Netops manager may only hear about a problem once a customer complains. The sole information they receive is that there is an issue, but it’s up to them to investigate what it is and how to fix it. And each minute that the network is down creates more of a burden on customer service resources, even potentially leading to clients canceling their accounts. It also damages the brand, creating an impression that the MSP is unreliable and provides poor service.
For enterprises, network issues lead to a major loss in productivity. Each time employees at the organization have to deal with faulty Wi-Fi or slow internet, they stop doing their job and start opening doors to try to get a stronger Wi-Fi connection or, when that doesn’t work, coming down and pestering the network admin.
It’s such a common occurrence that it may seem natural to everyone, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Most network admins rely on email alerts from equipment such as firewalls and monitoring software to let them know when there is a network issue. Unfortunately, these alerts are usually light on useful information, and they often arrive too late to really be helpful. And that’s not to mention all of the issues they fail to inform about. Small problems can slip by under the radar – perhaps a mere network slowdown, not complete shutdown – and may not be discovered until they’ve turned into far worse ones.
Relying on an alert system is better than nothing. But it means that netops personnel are not hearing about problems until after the fact, making them go back and check what happened retroactively. All of this leads to a reactive network ops strategy that puts an unnecessary strain on the company’s resources.
But with proactive network management, early warnings notify about potential issues before they start wreaking havoc. This way, IT administrators can anticipate and fix problems before customers or employees start picking up their phones and complaining. Instead of putting out fires, netops can eliminate fire hazards.
Proactive network management makes use of two ongoing processes:
The most advanced proactive network management systems will even automate the solutions to network problems, applying closed-loop control that allows for a major improvement in efficiency, which then creates room to scale.
Sometimes a network problem is as simple as a cable being connected poorly. In the absence of a proper proactive network management system, the best-case scenario is that the network admin will be informed about this by an email alert. More likely, they’ll only find out when an upset person frustrated with their Wi-Fi comes knocking on their office door. Either way, they’ll have to go through a thorough investigation to identify the problematic cable – if they are lucky enough to actually locate it – which can take hours.
With proactive network management, the continual monitoring system will detect the problem as soon as it happens, inform the network operations team about it, give detailed information about exactly what is going on, and even suggest a solution. So they can take care of the problem before any customers or employees even notice it.
An early warning system for detecting network issues has a number of benefits worth writing home – or to the CTO – about.
For MSPs, it leads to an improved customer experience that helps boost customer retention and improve brand reputation. The MSP is seen as reliable and consistent – the two main qualities consumers seek from their MSPs.
For enterprises, it improves productivity, eliminating one of the main blockers people face in the workplace. The organization becomes more efficient as a whole, improving the company’s performance.
And for the IT team, early warnings change everything, giving network managers some much-needed relief. Instead of the pressure of constantly reacting to problems, they get to switch to a proactive (read: far less stressful) strategy.
If the team isn’t operating at 100% capacity on any given day because a team member is out sick, it won’t affect the entire company. People with less expertise will be able to understand what is happening and how to fix it, empowering more employees to help maintain the stability and full capacity of the network. With all of the time and resources saved, senior net ops employees are freed up to focus on more strategic work.
The benefits of an early warning system for network management run the gamut, improving the experience of everybody from customers to employees to network managers, and creating the efficiency required for an organization to grow. Proactive network management strategies based on early warnings are the clear next step for any organization managing multiple networks.
Learn how NetOp can help your organization with early warning. Get a demo today.