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Ways To Optimize Networking Technologies For Business Growth

by Balasundar Natarajan, CIO, ABB India Ltd August-2016

Today, CIOs face multiple challenges in implementing networking technologies. The availability of the right solution which fits the requirement of an enterprise is one of the challenges in networking technologies. Often there is a risk of a mismatch between requirement and investment. We may find that the investment is beyond the needs and sometimes the technology may not meet all the requirements. So, a prudent assessment of the requirements and mapping them to the right technology is of paramount importance. The CIO and his team should do extensive homework independently before validating the offerings from network technology providers. 

There is also a risk of obsolescence which needs to be predicted. Enterprises which are investing in bulk on networking technologies face this risk. Hence, the evaluation of technologies has to be done by experts within or outside the organization as a pre-requisite for investments. The availability of right resources to manage new technologies is another challenge which is common across enterprises. This normally leads to more operational expenses whether the environment is supported internally or with service providers. Additionally, versions need upgrades in order to keep the environment clean. This has to be handled carefully as there is a risk of downtime with business operations getting interrupted. 

In order to sustain uninterrupted services, organizations should invest in the right technology. Also, the network service provider has to be monitored closely so that the agreed SLAs are always met. There should be a sound preventive maintenance policy within IT organization to respond fast to internal/external customers. Periodic assessments of performance and taking action on red spots are important to keep the customer satisfaction high. A sound monitoring system should be in place in the organization to monitor the bandwidth and performance of network devices. These remote tools will help in identifying issues proactively and minimizing the risk of business interruption. 

Managing network devices remotely

Today, there are multiple tools available to manage network devices remotely. Enterprises should select the tool based on the size and variety of IT services provided to the users. A lean organization without much WAN traffic across country may not need a high end monitoring system, whereas large enterprises with multiple locations across geographies need to have a sound tool which monitors each piece of network infrastructure in the enterprises – both hardware and services. After implementing a fool proof monitoring system, there should be an arrangement to update the configurations on a regular basis so that the remote device is in control of the dynamic networking environment.

In addition to establishing a sound monitoring system, it is important to take corrective actions based on the diagnosis. Although, any good monitoring tool will certainly identify the problem areas in network, it is very important for enterprises to understand the cause and effect of such problem areas and take suitable remedial measures. A sound breakdown maintenance mechanism should be in place which will cater to all types of unexpected interruptions so that the reaction time is faster. It is a prudent policy to build some insurance spares in remote locations, in order to address critical failure. 

Taking care of Inventory Management

Another important concern is inventory management and NMS tools can come in handy to address this issue. However, a highly motivated team is required to set up the tool without missing any minor aspects of network topology. A wrong setup will not have any benefit and will address the diagnostic requirements only partially. An independent assessment of the setup can be considered before the tool is put in to use. A close analysis of the load with NMS tool will give a clear indication whether the network is over sized or under sized. A frequent bubble in a location will give an indication that the location needs to stock sufficient number of devices to handle emergencies. A proper inventory management results in identifying the replacement requirements once the devices reach their end of lives. A traditional organization without modern tools will not be able to address this critical requirement of managing “end of life” devices. 

System integration is the order of the day. No one works in silo nowadays, especially in large business enterprises. Even for small and medium enterprises, productivity has become a critical aspect in order to put in place the right benchmark for cost of services. IoT is a reality and most of the business organizations are already moving towards it. It simplifies the processes and provides cost advantage. Companies are using their ERP systems to integrate with the business processes of their customers in order to cater to their information requirements. Such collaborations ought to be done in many forms to bring huge cost advantage to the parties involved in it.