The thorny difficulty of troubleshooting a network slowdown


In today’s impatient world, high-speed Internet is close to a basic human right, so when networks slow down, your business clients want them fixed, and preferably yesterday.

They can’t resolve it themselves, because they don’t have access to their network control devices, so they look to their Managed Service Provider to restore their Internet speeds. But a typical MSP isn’t on site, and doesn’t have the tools to discover the root cause and to cure network slowdowns.

It’s a recipe for rising customer frustration and churn, unless you use a proactive network management solution.

Why troubleshooting network slowdown is such a challenge

A large part of the trouble is that there are numerous potential causes for any slowdown. Historical data about network KPIs (key performance indicators) is impossible to come by (even from an hour ago!), so neither the client nor the MSP can investigate earlier changes that may have sparked the current issue.

Here are just a few of the possible reasons why your client’s Internet might be slow.

1. The WiFi can’t be accessed

The user can’t access WiFi because of a WiFi association problem or other known issue. Similarly, it could be an edge computing issue rather than the Internet itself.

2. The bandwidth is near its limit

Internet providers generally throttle bandwidth when you grow close to or exceed your limit. Someone in the company that is downloading a lot of files or watching a video could occupy so much bandwidth that other users experience a slowdown.

3. There’s a mistake in the configuration

The enterprise client or someone at the MSP itself might have changed the fabric configurations, e.g. to create a new SSID for guest Internet access. If human error crept in, that could affect Internet speeds across the whole organization.

4. A switch or access point is congested

With multiple users in different locations, access points need to be carefully situated to balance traffic. If the access design isn’t thought-out well enough, it could create congestion around some overburdened switches.

5. There’s a problem with the Internet provider

Instead of a mistake in the Internet configuration, WiFi, or bandwidth, the Internet provider could be at fault. But how would you know?

6. The issue already disappeared

Internet slowdowns tend to come and go. By the time the client has called the MSP, the issue might have resolved itself on its own. Without historical data, the MSP has no idea what happened and can’t reassure the client that it won’t occur again.

In brief, MSPs don’t have the tools to troubleshoot and diagnose the root cause of a network slowdown, and they can’t even think about solving it without the root cause. That said, there is something you can do, and that’s proactively managing the network through a solution like NetOp.

The NetOp proactive network management solution

Proactive management means continuously gathering data for network KPIs, applying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms to derive insights, and addressing potential issues before they arise.

When you move from a reactive network management methodology to a proactive one like NetOp, you’ll gain the ability to diagnose and troubleshoot network slowdowns, predict them before they occur, and even prevent them from taking place.

Gather data

Proactive management monitors all the variables mentioned above on a continuous basis, including usage levels, configuration, the balance of traffic across the network as a whole, wifi settings, backbone Internet provision, and more, and stores the data securely.

If and when a slowdown occurs, the MSP can look back at historical data to discover that, for example, the network has been disrupted ever since the fabric was reconfigured two days ago when a potential partner came to visit the organization.

With this information, MSPs can carry out trouble-shooting and diagnostics, then apply the right fix. MSPs will no longer be left to make guesses in the dark about possible causes.

Detect anomalies

When you actively and continuously gather data, you’re able to investigate issues, discover the root cause, and decide on the right course of action. However, sifting through all the historical data can take a lot of time and hold you back from swiftly resolving the issue.

The NetOp insight engine applies AI and ML to speed up the entire troubleshooting process, quickly identifying anomalies within the data that reveal the root cause and generating recommendations for action, before the slowdown causes more damage and impacts on the customer’s business.

Proactively prevent slowdowns

Once you know the root cause, you can apply a fix to restore the customer’s Internet speeds. It might mean fixing errors in the configuration, resolving WiFi access, or getting in touch with the Internet provider to find out what’s going on on their end.

However, once the customer had a bad Internet experience, they could still switch MSPs to one that they perceive as more reliable. That’s why NetOp uses AI and ML to learn the customer’s regular usage patterns and spot anomalies before they grow large enough to spark a slowdown. For example, if the NetOp solution sees that the organization’s traffic has an identified anomaly, it will notify the customer. The customer can then increase Internet limits before their speed is throttled.

The intent-based, built-in solution can also automatically apply a fix to proactively prevent a slowdown from arising in the first place. With advance permission from the customer, NetOp enables MSPs to change configurations on the fly automatically, within the customer environment. E.g. NetOp could spot that one of the end users is using an unreasonable amount of bandwidth watching HD YouTube videos. The solution can reconfigure the end user’s access permissions to block them from watching videos online, preventing them from dragging down Internet experience for the whole organization.

Proactive network management arms you to deal with Internet slowdowns

Slow Internet speeds can aggravate your customers and cause them to leave, but most MSPs don’t have the tools to easily resolve the issue. A proactive network management solution like NetOp empowers MSPs to not just resolve slow Internet issues, but to predict and prevent them from occurring in the first place, delivering excellent customer experience and boosting retention.