The importance of network management
We live and work in an ever more interconnected world. In your business, how many devices and core functions are connected? The list could include devices, printers, your phone system, point of sale, CCTV and more.
The days when these were separate components are long gone. And we have networks to thank for that.
This has brought huge advances in efficiency. But it also brings potential vulnerabilities. Your network probably connects every part of your business: accounts, customer and staff records, communication, sales …
If anyone infiltrates your network, all that is up for grabs. The consequences are unthinkable, and that’s why network management is so essential. Let’s look at some of the ways this can go wrong.
Common network problems
Unfortunately, network problems are all too common. These are some of the most frequent issues we encounter in our daily work.
Network knowledge gaps
A lot of businesses simply lack in-house knowledge in how to map, optimise and manage networks. This could be for all sorts of reasons. It’s fairly common in small businesses that don’t have IT staff. But we also see it in businesses that do have an IT team that isn’t upskilled in modern network management.
Either way, it essentially leads to a network that’s unmanaged.
Lack of coherent design
As businesses grow, networks grow in complexity. And if no one’s taking a step back and mapping the whole network, it can suffer. This is surprisingly common in medium-sized and larger businesses. The network may grow piecemeal as new components are added.
But without a coherent ‘big-picture’ view of the whole infrastructure, you could be open to all kinds of inefficiency and vulnerability. Some hardware may no longer be fit for purpose. You could lose track of essential firmware upgrades. You might even be overpaying for surplus components.
In a way, this is a common product of the previous two points rather than a root cause. But it’s bad enough to warrant its own entry. Think of your network cabling. Is it all clearly labelled and mapped out in diagrams? Or is it a sprawling, spaghetti-like mess?
We’ve seen these birds’ nests of cables more times than we care to mention, and they’re a huge problem. If one thing goes wrong, there’s no way of knowing what you’re unplugging. This can easily lead to days of downtime just to locate the source of a simple problem.
How do you optimise and manage your network?
We’ve covered some of the ways your network can go awry. Now it’s time to look at solutions. We’ll run you through how we approach business networks. But the first thing to say is that no two networks are the same.
Your exact configurations and requirements will depend on a whole host of things that are unique to your business. Your location(s), size, structure and sector make a big difference, as does the other tech you use.
All of this is to say that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. That’s why it’s so important to have an expert overview of your network. At Pure Cloud, we’re big believers in doing a proper, detailed assessment of our customers’ entire tech infrastructure, including networks.
The Pure Cloud approach to networking
When it comes to networking, it really pays to be methodical. When we’re assessing a customer’s network, we break it into its core parts to cover all bases. These are some of the things we’ll look at.
- Connectivity requirements
How you connect to the internet really matters. This is what forms your WAN (wide-area network), which connects any LANs (local area networks) within your business.
You can think of your network as the system you use to distribute data around your business. And first things first, you need your internet connection to provide enough data in the first place! Without the right speeds, bandwidth and resilience, your network is a non-starter.
Your firewall is your network’s first line of defence. It works like a gatekeeper, blocking unwanted traffic from getting in. But if your firewall is outdated, it will only detect outdated threats! It’s essential to keep up to speed on this.
We offer a range of solutions, including the industry-leading Sophos XG Firewall. This uses AI to detect both known and unknown threats. Whatever firewall we recommend, it will offer easy management along with the level of protection your business needs.
Your switches are essential building blocks in your network, allowing your devices to communicate with each other. Traditionally, managing these demanded a lot of time and expert labour. It’s essential work, but it can be highly expensive.
This is why Cisco Meraki switches are a game-changer. They’re mapped, monitored and managed over the cloud. This makes everything from deployment to troubleshooting so much quicker and easier, reducing operating costs in the process.
Servers are just as important as switches. A server is like the brain of a network, storing and processing data and applications. And unfortunately, you can’t simply treat these as a one-off purchase and forget about them.
They might have been up to the task when you first got them. But technology changes and so do businesses. Modern workplaces need much more data than they used to. By mapping your network, we’re able to assess definitively whether these components are still up to scratch.
- Structured cabling
Messy, unmanaged cabling doesn’t look nice. More importantly, it’s a huge drain on operating costs, because it takes so much time to put anything right.
Whether it’s Cat5e, Cat6, Cat6A, Cat7 or fibre, we will always make sure your cabling is neat and properly labelled! Because it makes overall management so much quicker, proper cabling tends to pay for itself.
Partnering with Pure Cloud
We’ve covered a lot here, but the truth is that we’ve barely scratched the surface! Network management is a complex business. But it’s essential to the health of your business.
It’s what gives you the means to keep your core infrastructure running smoothly, avoiding excessive downtime and security threats. An expert appraisal is always worthwhile, to keep your business running safely. That’s what we offer. If you’re unsure about your network, get in touch today.