Network Performance: Three Essential Things to Watch For

Author
Paul H. Mauritz
President, CEO

As the CEO of a fast-growing company, I meet fellow business leaders all the time. And I ask all of them a question. “Do you know who is watching your network, and whether they’re watching for the right things?”

It’s a simple question, but the implication is huge. The network has become an essential business tool – the highway that virtually every growing business in the world runs on. From ERP systems that track manufacturer’s components to patient data systems that store key information to e-commerce systems that allow customers to self-serve, the network connects and enables them all.

Yet I often meet many business executives who wonder why they need to have anyone watching their network at all. Most of the time, they tell me, it just works. But just because it works today doesn’t mean it will still work tomorrow. If outside forces are applied to the network, will it still work? If the business rolls out a new cloud-based application for its employees or customers, will the network still work?

For a time, organizations tried to answer that question with network management technology. They spent billions installing technology whose purpose is to manage and monitor other technology.

But you can see the problem with this solution, can’t you? Who is watching your network management systems that are watching your network?

Watching your network the right way means staying on top of three specific things:

  1. Monitoring the performance of the devices on the network. Capacity is important. Processor speed is important. Memory is important. Taken together, they make up the components of performance of the systems on the network that affect the capability of the network. A single device on the network that is performing poorly can degrade the performance of the entire network.
  1. Identifying faulty devices on the network, before they fail. It’s not enough to simply monitor the devices. It’s also vital to identify faulty devices before they grind your network to a halt.
  1. Keeping track of the configurations and versions of the software on all of the devices on your network. It means keeping up with changes from the manufacturer. It means making sure that a change to one type of device is made to every device of that type. And it means having the ability to roll back changes that adversely affect your network.

If you have performance, fault, and configuration monitoring in place, the next piece of the puzzle is making sure you know what to do when the monitoring isolates an issue. Do you have the human resources to rally around a problem and fix it before it affects your network? Are those watching your network prepared to bring the right experience, tools, and approach to quickly isolate and repair an issue? Are they prepared to show up at 2 a.m. when an alert is received? If the people watching your network are not up to the task, having performance, fault, and configuration monitoring in place will not be enough.

Yet even more is required. Beyond just identifying issues and remediating problems, watching your network correctly means periodically checking on its overall health. It means spending time reviewing how the business interacts with the network, and plotting ways to increase usage of the network – and the growth of the business. And it means taking advantage of technology advances and minimizing network disturbances by installing available upgrades to both hardware and software.

Whoever is watching your network should be looking for internal and external impacts that could bring it down. They should be focused on where the business is going, to make sure the network also goes there.

For any modern business to grow, it needs a reliable network that can handle the challenges of growth. You might think you have that. But if you’re not watching your network the right way, you can’t be sure. For a conversation about how to ensure your network is getting the attention it needs, reach out.

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Nick Kelly

Cybersecurity Engineer, Cisco

Nick has over 20 years of experience in Security Operations and Security Sales. He is an avid student of cybersecurity and regularly engages with the Infosec community at events like BSides, RVASec, Derbycon and more. The son of an FBI forensics director, Nick holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice and is one of Cisco’s Fire Jumper Elite members. When he’s not working, he writes cyberpunk and punches aliens on his Playstation.

 

Virgilio “BONG” dela Cruz Jr.

CCDP, CCNA V, CCNP, Cisco IPS Express Security for AM/EE
Field Solutions Architect, Tech Data

Virgilio “Bong” has sixteen years of professional experience in IT industry from academe, technical and customer support, pre-sales, post sales, project management, training and enablement. He has worked in Cisco Technical Assistance Center (TAC) as a member of the WAN and LAN Switching team. Bong now works for Tech Data as the Field Solutions Architect with a focus on Cisco Security and holds a few Cisco certifications including Fire Jumper Elite.

 

John Cavanaugh

CCIE #1066, CCDE #20070002, CCAr
Chief Technology Officer, Practice Lead Security Services, NetCraftsmen

John is our CTO and the practice lead for a talented team of consultants focused on designing and delivering scalable and secure infrastructure solutions to customers across multiple industry verticals and technologies. Previously he has held several positions including Executive Director/Chief Architect for Global Network Services at JPMorgan Chase. In that capacity, he led a team managing network architecture and services.  Prior to his role at JPMorgan Chase, John was a Distinguished Engineer at Cisco working across a number of verticals including Higher Education, Finance, Retail, Government, and Health Care.

He is an expert in working with groups to identify business needs, and align technology strategies to enable business strategies, building in agility and scalability to allow for future changes. John is experienced in the architecture and design of highly available, secure, network infrastructure and data centers, and has worked on projects worldwide. He has worked in both the business and regulatory environments for the design and deployment of complex IT infrastructures.