White spots on the corporate networks map
A corporate network is built with hundreds of machines, applications and systems. To make sure it’s efficient and malfunction-free a system administrator must have a thorough insight into all of its elements and be able to react instantly if any irregularity occurs. But even the best managed companies happen to have white spots on their network architecture map. Is it possible to avoid them?
Before we answer this question, we have to ask ourselves: How is it possible for the sysadmins to lose sight of some network elements to begin with? Well, there are a couple of reasons.
One of the reasons is a more and more popular custom called BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). People are bringing their own hardware, like smartphones, tablets, or external storage units and connecting them to the company network. Those unsupervised devices can eventually cause a lot of trouble if they become a gateway for hackers wanting to gain access to the company’s sensitive data.
Of course, the devices being connected to the company network by its employees not always come from their homes. Often it’s a hardware purchased by the company but not assigned to a particular employee or a work station. It’s a possibly dangerous practice, because unattended equipment can often get forgotten and without regular updates and maintenance it can become unsecure.
Similar situation occurs with some very advanced equipment. The setup is so complicated and time consuming, administrators often just settle for the default settings. The machines then become forgotten and unsupervised and eventually live their own life within the company network despite the fact that no one is using them anymore or care for their security.
A network full of holes
The problems also occur when different networks are merged together, usually after a fusion or a takeover. Different systems usually don’t go along together causing delays or in the worst cases downtime. To avoid this sort of problems, system administrators shut off certain systems leaving them unsupervised. It’s a very dangerous practice, because no one has any insight into what’s really happening in the network.
It doesn’t take a fusion to lose control over your network. Sometimes changing an office building is enough. Most often in these cases the new office will have its own VLAN established, new equipment and new authorization protocols. But it can prove to be difficult to control a company network from a different location.
Delaying the network modernization process can also cause unwanted problems. If a company runs on an outdated equipment which doesn’t cope well with a higher load of data, the system’s efficiency drops causing the end users to complain about slow or even unavailable service. Another false practice is adding to the network a machine, which is much faster and more capable than others. It can easily cause other machines to slow down due to an increased amount of data streaming down from the faster equipment.
White spots not so terrifying
There are two ways of fighting with the white spots on the company network map. The first one is to immediately react to any problem caused by an unmonitored element. This is however rather time consuming and expensive. First, the malfunctioning device must be found and then fixed. The second option gives you a way to avoid the problem to begin with, because it involves implementing a system that collects and processes information about the condition of the entire network and all of its elements giving you an ability to predict and in most cases avoid any trouble at all. This solution gives IT departments both the ability to quickly diagnose and solve any issues and also a thorough insight into the entire network and all of the processes occurring in it. At the same time the network monitoring software gives the company managers a highly detailed report on the state of the IT infrastructure, including the information about the current data usage and a forecast of the data usage growth dynamic. It allows for a data-based decision making and budgetary planning.
Therefore, when designing or modifying a corporate network it is crucial to plan its comprehensive monitoring in advance, and at the same time remember to pay a lot of attention to configuring all of its elements, so we have a central view into all of the systems and services provided by this network.
“Companies are frequently equipped with several monitoring tools. It’s not always possible to replace them all with one solution. However it is crucial to be able to collect, process and visualize the data, even if it comes from multiple sources. The price of a professional 50-inch HD monitor has dropped so much nowadays, that even small companies can afford for a data visualization on multiple displays at a time. Today, we expect from the software not only to collect the data but also to intelligently analyze it, so instead of bothering us with trivial alerts, it should be able to solve them on its own. And everything that really needs our attention should be presented in a way, which allows for a quick diagnosis and decision making, explains Ela Mistachowicz, vice president of AdRem Software.
In every company accidents happen and losing control over one of the elements within the network can easily be one of them. Losing sight of a piece of equipment that’s responsible for the efficiency or security of the entire IT infrastructure can cause the company some real trouble. A right approach to network monitoring and ensuring that all machines and applications are connected to our monitoring system will help us avoid the serious consequences of white spots in our network.