COVID-19 & Work-at-Home Trends Mean Simplified Networking Processes

In 2020, business networks faced one of their biggest challenges since the dawn of the digital age – the sudden, completely unexpected worldwide disruption brought on by the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. Suddenly networks – and network admins – had to quickly adapt to a new networking paradigm, one where as many workers as possible were stationed at home.

At first, CIOs, CTOs, and IT admins were struggling just to get things running at all, especially those who had never thought that their company would embrace large-scale telecommuting. However, as weeks turned to months, and months now look like they may be years, it’s becoming clear: this is the new normal.

Workers were already looking for more options in when and how they work. A 2019 study showed overwhelming support for work-at-home options among the workforce. Most analysts believed that telecommuting would be the future of work, at least for those whose jobs allowed for it. Now, this has become the case, much faster than expected. Major tech companies like Facebook and Twitter and even traditional operations like French car-maker Groupe PSA have all announced their intention to continue utilizing telecommuting solutions, even once the pandemic has passed.

As has happened so many times in just the past few decades, companies must now adjust to a new technological paradigm. That means rethinking network operations – not just at hardware level, but in terms of big-picture oversight and planning. Networks must become simpler, easier to use, and easier to expand while accommodating workers at a wider range of locations than ever before.

The path forward for every business will be difficult, but with our decades of expertise in network monitoring and troubleshooting, we have some tips on how businesses need to adapt in the months ahead.

Work-at-home trends: Four Ways to Move Towards A Leaner, More Adaptive Networking Model

1. Make certain the basics are covered

IT departments are facing new challenges every day and are also at times struggling to keep up with user-side problems – particularly complicated ones trying to diagnose at-home users working off of consumer-grade Internet connections. It can be easy to get distracted and overlook the basics, but they must still receive focus. Now, more than ever.

Take time to emphasize the need for basic maintenance and redundancy upkeep. Don’t let your server patches be put off or lose track of the current N or N-1 versions. Make sure all your anti-malware systems are still updating constantly. Keep all your documentation fully current. Stay on top of the basic stuff, even if it feels like it’s taking time away from more pressing issues.

It’s all too easy for a patch to slip by, or for some other mistake to be made, that undermines everything else your networking operation is trying to accomplish.

2. Improve communications between network-adjacent teams and players

Perhaps this doesn’t describe your operation, but in many businesses we’ve seen, meetings among various groups touching the network are often pretty informal. For example, IT meeting with C-level execs in the hallway for a chat, rather than arranging for formal meetings.

For the time being, those meetings probably need to be formal, with real attention paid to the network and how it’s impacting operations. Likewise, there need to be clear lines of communication running from those affected by the network, and those making the operational decisions. Right now, good inputs are critical to putting together good outputs.

In particular, try to focus on forecasting, insofar as that’s possible right now. What percentage of the workforce is expected to remain at home? Which key players are now going to be outside of the office more often than not? Be sure you’re maintaining contact with all of them while taking inventory of problems and challenges that they’re facing.

3. Focus on scalability and simplicity

When contemplating any changes to the network, there are two basic questions you should be asking: Will this make the network easier to manage? And, are these solutions scalable?

The network itself is becoming more complicated, no doubt, at least in terms of scope and hardware. That’s why it’s so critical that the management and administrative side remain as simplified as possible. Look for software that will make your life easier, such as robust single-pane-of-glass network monitoring tools, and location-agnostic network apps that can provide the same experience to all users. Plus, of course, standards compliance is a must. This is not the right time to get trapped with bespoke hardware or APIs!

Likewise, apply the simplicity-and-scalability standard to your processes. This would be an excellent time to look at your own human operations and look for ways to streamline your standards and procedures. Create feedback loops that make it easier to uncover the need for changes and implement them, while reducing time of implementation.

4 – It’s time to automate

One small silver lining in the current situation is that there has been an explosion in networking automation solutions in the past few years. Automation is not only the realm of hardcore Unix types creating complicated scripts. Fully functional robust market products are now available, and they can significantly reduce the manpower needed to keep your network up and going.

Reducing your reliance on human maintenance and upkeep will almost undoubtedly result in fewer mistakes being made as well. The #1 source of network problems, outages, and security holes is still human error. Automation-based network monitoring systems are able to do many of the things an IT admin can do, but faster and more reliably.

Pandora FMS Has the Insights You Need to Restructure Your Processes

Pandora FMS is a best-in-class monitoring system specifically designed for unlimited scalability. We’re trusted by world-class operations for network oversight, thanks to our decades of experience focusing on monitoring solutions. Large or small, Pandora FMS can radically streamline your network administration.

Contact us to request a Pandora FMS free 30-day trial.

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