Networks can be volatile things. While service providers seek to guarantee five-nines availability, downtime remains a risk. Natural disasters, bottlenecks and even denial-of-service attacks can knock down a network from full-speed to zero.
Because stakeholders expect 24/7 connectivity for a growing sea of endpoints, interruptions are not only nightmares for support specialists, but they are also increasingly costly.
Common Problems with Network Availability
When the network goes down, the cause is often either human error or a systemic lack of visibility into the network’s traffic patterns, devices, applications, and connections. A 2014 Avaya survey of 210 IT professionals in the UK, U.S., and Canada found that:
- More than four-fifths of respondents had experienced downtime attributable to human error.
- Eighty percent of downtime from core network outages resulted in revenue loss. On average, the price tag was $140,000 per incident.
- Almost one third reported that issues with the network caused trouble for supply chain management. More stated that these events hampered employee productivity and delayed IT projects.
So what can organizations do to optimize network availability and performance? Broadly speaking, they have to gain comprehensive insight into their IT environments, which is not necessarily easy considering that networks are under the strain of more endpoints than ever before. Cisco Systems recently estimated that the so-called Internet of Things could encompass 50 billion connected devices by 2020. Visibility has become paramount.
“Not having complete visibility into the environment or properly understanding the impact of a change before making it can lead to unintended consequences,” Bob Laliberte, Senior Analyst for Enterprise Strategy Group, told Network Computing. "[T]he ability to manage large and complex network environments effectively is a priority for most organizations"
Related Content: Preventing Network Outages with Proactive Mnitoring
Finding the Right Network Optimization Solution
Complex network architectures rely on monitoring and management solutions to stay up. But picking the right one can be problematic. To start, organizations may fixate on achieving five-nines uptime, which can lead them to invest in tools that are both beyond their means and difficult to operate and maintain.
On his blog, entrepreneur and small business expert Sean Hull suggests that it's better for SMBs to focus on actual technical details and processes, such as collecting analytics and metrics from IT infrastructure, rather than broadly commit to the rhetoric of five-nines.
"[S]ustaining high availability at the standard of five-nines costs a lot of money," wrote Hull. "These costs are incurred from buying more servers, whether as physical infrastructure or in the cloud. In addition, you'll likely involve more software components and configuration complexity…With all that complexity also comes more risk."
Monitoring the network does not have to be difficult, expensive or risky. Finding efficient network mapping software with robust monitoring capabilities can help you poll each device on the network and measure its activities against established baselines. Administrators get a comprehensive, at-a-glance view of their networks, giving them the information they need to maintain peak performance.