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Why ‘OK’ Network Practices Are Bad for Business
A popular commercial series being run by AT&T these days focuses on how “just OK” shouldn’t be acceptable. These funny anecdotes, depicting an OK tattoo parlor, OK babysitter, and OK surgeon, bring to life some very real examples of when just OK doesn’t cut it.
These commercials got us thinking about the problems that businesses -- specifically IT teams -- are contending with today. When did OK become the standard by which anything in business should be measured? OK expectations lead to one thing and one thing only -- mediocre outcomes. But, as today’s IT environments and infrastructures become more complex and difficult to manage, many IT professionals have developed a just OK mindset, where a day spent simply keeping the network up and running is a good one.
If you’re a CIO or head of IT, the last thing you ever want to hear from your team is that your methodology for managing critical areas of the network is OK. But this is the exact case for many organizations. Networks today are mission-critical; just one outage can significantly impact the bottom line. In fact, back in 2014, Gartner reported that the average cost of network downtime was around $5,600 per minute, equaling more than $330,000 per hour, which would be a big hit for any business. Since then, the stakes have risen even more as the cost of downtime continues to increase.
Understanding the pressure that’s on them to keep the network functioning, the average network management team spends three-quarters of its time fixing problems -- a problem in and of itself. Specifically, they devote 35% of their day to firefighting or reactive troubleshooting, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) has found in its research. This leaves just a few hours in the day dedicated to strategic projects that deliver business value.
The amount of time it takes to troubleshoot a network issue is due to it being a very manual process, involving hopping around in the command-line interface and oftentimes, using disparate, non-connected tools and consoles. Even worse, many times network troubleshooting problems aren’t easy to reproduce, so getting to the root cause of a network outage can be nearly impossible. The solution to this OK troubleshooting is enabling network teams to integrate real-time visibility and automation within a troubleshooting workflow, reducing manual work and improving mean time to repair (MTTR).
As the troubleshooting example suggests, traditional methods of network management have become just OK as networks continue to grow and become more complex.
What’s more, the abundance of new trends and technologies like software-defined networking, DevOps, and intent-based networking are complicating today’s networks even further. As a result, many organizations have purchased a whole bunch of network management tools to try and keep their heads above water. In fact, EMA’s 2018 Network Management Megatrends research suggests that 27% of enterprises use more than 10 tools and some very large enterprises use more than 70 tools. This is incredibly expensive and inefficient -- or, in other words, just OK.
Too many tools, which often have overlapping features and data, can become cumbersome and confusing to use, and more tools require more training and expertise. CIOs looking to overcome this issue and make the most out of their technology investments should apply adaptive network automation to their manual processes and aim for complete network visibility. Adaptive automation is deeply flexible with the ability to adapt or work across an enterprise’s hybrid, multivendor network, its existing set of IT tools, and know-how from engineering teams.
Another issue we have come to accept as OK, simply because we’ve grown used to it, is the lack of collaboration among IT teams. For instance, when there’s a slow application, a typical first response is, “It must be the network.” Whether it’s the application, security, or network team, the degree of finger-pointing is a direct result of silos and lack of processes and systems that foster collaboration. Automation, however, helps teams improve cross-IT collaboration by providing a common visibility framework during troubleshooting and security, and more importantly, enables teams to codify and share their best practices with others -- taking things beyond just OK.
As companies increase their reliance on technology and environments grow more complex by the day, automation has become a necessity rather than a nice to have. Through automation you can ensure that the network is functioning properly, reduce MTTR, consolidate your management toolkit and foster collaboration among teams -- overall transforming what were once OK network management strategies to efficient and effective, while making the most out of your technology investments.
Given what’s at stake, does OK sound like a standard for you?