“Why is my network down?”
It seems likes such a simple question, but you already know it’s not. The next two questions staff inevitably asks are, “Who do we call?,” and, once the issue has been resolved, “How do we keep these things from happening?” The question management really wants to answer is, “How soon can we get back up?” Finding the real answers to all of them may not be that easy
Just the facts, please
We can all agree fixing things is urgent, but the correct response to the first question actually requires first asking a few more questions. An outage can be a complex situation. Understanding – and resolving it – might take some investigation.
We already know the “what” part: lost or delayed access to data or functions through networked devices and systems. A system slowdown affecting all users also meets the criteria. But before proceeding, we must further clarify the statement “the system is down.” Problems confined to a single desktop do not constitute a larger network-wide issue. There’s a considerable difference between single user being unable to see an external web site and an entire department unable to access essential applications from the cloud.
A good starting point is to determine if the source of the outage is internal or external? If your entire network goes dark, the problem could lie with your internet service provider. A quick call to them could help clarify things quickly, especially if they’re experiencing – and sharing – problems.
Frequently, systems misbehave because of changes to hardware and software. Even automatic updates to user software can impact other system functions. Unauthorized additions – say, hooking a new wireless access point to a network – can wreak havoc with system configurations. Conversely, the popularity of wireless mobile devices has led many organizations to allow ad hoc networking by staff members. This potentially dangerous situation requires the appropriate safeguards and policies to maintain system integrity and security.
Then there are the actual bad guys, criminals who want to steal your information, intellectual property, and your cash, who inject malware – viruses, worms, trojan horses, and bots – into devices and systems. Are you taking the necessary steps to keep them out while monitoring the performance of your systems inside?
Prevention is the cure
Of course, these reasons are just a short list of all the possible causes of system downtime. With all of the possible answers to the one deceptively simple question that started this discussion, you can understand the need for all the forensics. Only now can anyone accurately begin address and remedy the root cause or causes of your distress.
The real long-term solution, however, is to have somebody whose primary responsibility is monitoring system health and activity, managing the internal network, and monitoring system gateways. Rather than adding these duties to your existing staff, you’d be much better off contracting with someone who can actually prevent outages, not just fix them, somebody who will strategically manage, monitor, and maintain your system.
It’s a job for a managed IT services provider. They can prevent system downtime by making sure your firewall and router are working and up-to-date. Using remote monitoring software, they’ll be able to identify if a single device or a system is the potential cause of a network outage if it does occur. They’ll also share lessons learned from similar problems at other businesses, sparing you a steep and nerve-wracking learning curve.
Even if the problem is with your internet provider, they’ll have insight into providers’ performance. They’ll know the size, scope, and time to repair for common external issues. What’s more, come contract negotiation time with your internet provider, they can provide the data for negotiating rates and SLAs (service level agreements).
The best way to prevent system downtime is having someone who is intimately acquainted with your IT infrastructure to manage and maintain all of its components. You won’t get that from random IT techs you call once or twice a year.
In the end, almost every company of every size has experienced problems leading to downtime. Those who use managed IT services have a higher success rate of getting things fixed faster. They know the answer when the manager asks when they system will be back up. It all comes down to how important keeping your IT system up and running is to your business.
To learn more about how managed IT services can improve your uptime, download our free eBook below