By Francis Wainaina, Senior Product Manager at SEACOM East Africa
With the number of connections and devices required in today’s digital business environment, monitoring and managing network performance has become increasingly important but incredibly complex. As expensive cyberattacks and data breaches become commonplace and hackers become more crafty, enterprises can’t afford not to take their network management seriously and secure their systems for efficient, smooth-running operations.
Improper network management or negligence can be devastating, with compromised data, network downtime, poor network performance, and even a business’s reputation at stake. As such, an IT department plays a crucial role to monitor, manage, and secure all networks while also driving digital transformation to maintain a competitive business edge.
Here are five common network management oversights businesses need to avoid.
Not anticipating or preparing for network growth
Businesses of all sizes and in all sectors are constantly evolving to respond to changes around them. This typically means that data traffic is rapidly increasing, and new devices, technologies, and services are being added – all of which rely on an enterprise’s systems and networks to function optimally. Therefore, it makes sense to invest in flexible systems that can handle changing speed and capacity requirements, essentially growing with a business.
IT departments should ensure that their network management plans anticipate and accommodate scalability. By strategising how much a network is expected to expand over time, network managers won’t be taken aback and will be fully prepared for inevitable growth.
Failing to monitor applications and devices
Monitoring and managing applications and devices helps paint a full, accurate picture of a business’s network performance. And considering both utilise multiple network resources, it’s critical to keep an eye on them for optimal network efficiency.
A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) offers a future-proof solution for savvy network managers to not only run WAN services more effectively, securely, and economically, but also optimise application performance and monitor device logs. SD-WAN can be configured to prioritise business-critical applications and services, helping IT teams reduce packet loss and latency delays. In the long run, this translates to improved network performance and employee productivity. It’s a win-win for the entire business.
Neglecting to set access controls
This may seem like an obvious step to secure a network, yet many network managers forget to implement the basics. Businesses tend to store a lot of sensitive data and personal information on their networks, and opening all of this up to unauthorised users is a breach waiting to happen. So, to prevent data from falling into the wrong hands, setting role-based access regulations is a must.
SD-WAN comes into play here too, with a built-in security offering and significant cybersecurity benefits for businesses. Look for an SD-WAN solution that offers more than just basic firewall and VPN functions. Those that boast extensive, integrated security features, including next-generation firewall, encryption, and sandboxing capabilities, are a sure way to protect an organisation from data loss, network violations, and downtime.
Overlooking automation as a viable solution
As organisations race to accelerate their digital transformation ahead of competitors, modern business networks increase in scale and complexity. And the more complex they become, the more difficult it is to optimise and manage them manually. Not to mention how costly and labour intensive this exercise is.
SD-WAN is the ideal solution for intricate networks and strained IT teams, removing the need for onsite staff to manage local IT infrastructure themselves. By offloading non-essential business apps, automating monitoring tasks, and centrally managing traffic, SD-WAN simplifies WAN services and eases the network management burden – allowing businesses to focus on other priorities.
Being reactive rather than proactive
Reacting to network performance problems and security issues as they arise is no longer good enough. Modern businesses need to be continuously monitoring all networks and systems while proactively searching for threats and inefficiencies.
As mentioned, network downtime can lead to devastating financial losses, so having a proactive and hands-on network management approach is key. This kind of thinking combined with regular network audits will keep potential disasters at bay.
Businesses can also take charge of their network by ensuring they have a reliable, high-speed connectivity solution in place – the backbone of all network infrastructure.
Francis Wainaina is the Senior Product Manager at SEACOM East Africa. Through its ownership of Africa’s most extensive ICT data infrastructure – including multiple subsea cables and a resilient, continent-wide IP-MPLS network – SEACOM provides a full suite of flexible, scalable and high-quality communications and cloud solutions that enable the growth of the continent’s economy.