NetScout: don't plan for failure - but do plan

Tom Allen
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IT teams need to be retrained constantly to keep up-to-date with changing technology
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IT teams need to be retrained constantly to keep up-to-date with changing technology

Networks are more complex than ever, but having a plan in place will minimise downtime

Business networks become more reliable every year, with new standards, interoperability and devices simplifying the IT department's job - at least, such is the common belief.

A study by NetScout has found that that assumption doesn't hold up under examination. Of the 300 mid-large organisations questioned, 48 per cent spend longer than half a day, on average, to close trouble tickets; and 46 per cent admit to being under pressure to reduce that time.

NetScout found that IT professionals, who should be working on key projects, instead spend as much as a quarter of their time handling escalations.

While technology is evolving to solve problems, these open up new challenges: unified communications, for example, can be a complex topic. We also have to consider the skill set of IT professionals - who are in constant need of retraining, often requiring senior staff to be called out to remote sites.

It is important to minimise the above, by ensuring that the correct resources can be applied to any issues that arise. NetScout recommends standardising test parameters and documentation to ease diagnosis.

Plan, prepare, perform

Applying the right resources to a problem will minimise downtime and cost. To make that easier, you should plan ahead; here are some questions that you should think about before the network goes down:

  • Are there IT staff on-site?

  • What is their expertise level?

  • Do you have critical and non-critical sites?

If the site is remote and critical, of course it needs staff! Then it is time to consider what these employees need to do in the case of a failure. If the issue is simple, great; but if not, then standardised testing methods will come in helpful to analyse problems and provide feedback to senior staff at headquarters.

Collaboration once the problem is found is just as important as identifying it in the first place. This can take many forms: senior staff can troubleshoot issues remotely, using the eyes-on knowledges of on-site engineers; or those same engineers can feed their results into a central database, where multiple IT teams can access the data.

Even though networks are more reliable than ever, they are also more complex, and that means that failure can and will occur. Getting to the root of the cause is critical, and planning ahead will greatly simplify that.

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