As a busy professional, the security, efficiency and stability of the network that keeps business running is a priority. But as busy professionals know, technology doesn’t always work the way you want or need it to. That’s where the help of a trusted network monitoring service comes in. You shouldn’t have to worry about the issues that cause network downtime and you need to know that the company you choose to manage it can correct problems quickly and completely. Read more
Forget the boogeyman and the little vampire asking for candy at your front door. Few things are more chilling for a business owner than the prospect of network downtime and the costs associated with it. According to Continuity Central, the top causes of network downtime include, in order:
- Hardware failure. Listed as the cause of a whopping 55% of SMB downtime. Corrupted cabling, power surges and other hardware problems are often unexpected and tend to stop business in its tracks.
- Human error. We all make mistakes, but when those mistakes happen in the context of business there can be serious repercussions. Causes 22% of network failures.
- Software failure. Viruses and outdated software (among other technical maladies) constitute the cause of 18% of network crises.
- Natural disasters. While Continuity Central emphasizes that natural disasters only “comprise a mere 5 percent of actual causes of downtime,” many business owners know firsthand how devastating natural disasters can be. They are perhaps the scariest of the risks because they are most out of our control.
So what steps can you take to ensure things stay up and running with minimal risk of network operations failure, no matter the cause?
- Inspect all critical hardware periodically. This means checking for frayed wires, replacing old equipment and keeping an eye on the Storage Area Network (SAN) for any signs of problems. When it comes to cabling, it may be worth it to call a structured cabling expert like BCS to ensure that cables are organized in a safe and beneficial way.
- Build an internal IT department or outsource tasks. The best way to minimize the risk of human error is to make sure that the humans using the technology are well-trained in its complexities. Depending on the nature and size of your company, you may prefer a specialized internal IT department or outsourced managed support. Keep in mind that even the most skilled staff is bound to make mistakes, but doing what you can to combat human error is better than doing nothing.
- Be proactive about software updates and continually investigate emerging technologies. Software updates often include important security fixes and efficiency improvements. Delaying or failing to update puts your entire infrastructure at risk of malware, viruses and general continuity issues. Accordingly, avoid getting complacent with applications that just aren’t “working” as well as they should and instead keep one eye open for potential alternatives.
- Prepare as best you can for natural disasters by creating an IT Disaster Recovery Plan. Much like working to prevent downtime caused by human error, avoiding downtime resulting from natural disasters is all about planning. Having an IT disaster recovery plan on hand can make the difference between simple data restoration and rebuilding the network from the ground up (read our advice for creating such plan here).
- Invest in 24/7 network monitoring. Detect problems before they make a costly impact with professional network monitoring. BCS offers remote management of each device and application in a network, self-healing automation for instant resolution of network issues, virtual machine management and more.
Stephen Pritchard of ITPRO believes that the consumer cloud is experiencing a crisis of confidence and that this has implications for businesses who elect to use certain cloud storage services. In reference to the Google downtime earlier this week and other recent consumer cloud shutdowns (Amazon/Netflix and Microsoft in particular), Pritchard says,
“Companies are increasingly allowing, or even relying on, the use of services such as Google Drive, or Microsoft’s Office365….If businesses use these services to store documents, or instead of desktop software, even a short outage can cause a real loss of productivity. If companies build business processes around services such as Google Drive, the impact reach[es] even further.” (ITPRO)
Even if the company doesn’t officially adopt consumer cloud storage services like Google Drive and Microsoft’s Office365, individual employees often find them convenient for easy document storage and collaborative work on a project-by-project basis. The use of these services by employees may seem harmless (or maybe a little reckless), but as we saw with the Google server issues on Tuesday, the unpredictable nature of the consumer cloud has the potential to stall important office operations.
Best Cloud Storage Practices
We don’t mean to shed any suspicion on cloud-based data storage as a whole, but rather to emphasize the superior security of enterprise-class cloud services, which can be tailored to the unique needs of each business. When it comes to the cloud, you really do get what you pay for. A business that deploys an enterprise-class cloud storage service on a private network enjoys far less risk of downtime and increased efficiency (especially when paired with 24/7 network monitoring).
It seems obvious that companies should refrain from depending on the consumer cloud storage services , but the issue presents a more nuanced choice for IT strategists: Should use of consumer cloud services be prohibited in-office on an individual basis? The challenge in answering this question is that it is nearly impossible to remove such services entirely. Instead, as Pritchard recommends, “…companies should look at improving their in-house IT to make it more attractive, or else invest in enterprise-grade cloud services, and promote their use.”
If your business is currently relying on consumer cloud storage services for data storage, don’t wait until major downtime hurts productivity and revenue to research your options for enterprise-class cloud services like VMware’s Private Cloud. And if a dated IT infrastructure is leading employees to opt for consumer cloud services, consider an upgrade.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
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BCS Voice and Data Solutions
4540 Bonney Road, Suite D
Virginia Beach, VA 23462