Whether you’re dealing with the day-to-day, implementing change or planning for future network development, use this checklist to make sure that you’re following all the fundamental principles that play a positive part in optimizing network performance.
Know your network and what’s needed for the near future.
Before you can begin to improve your network, you need to establish the status quo, and determine what you know you’re going to need in the future. The chances are, you’ll already have audited your network to see what you have. How does this compare with what your company actually needs?
- Is your company growing?
- Are you getting ready for – or already using – cloud or wireless integration?
- How are you handling big data?
- What mobility solutions are already in place or being planned?
Use the network data you have to predict areas of expansion, remove blockages and slowdowns, and prevent duplication of design effort. Be clear about how your network will be supporting current and future business strategy; remove anything that has become redundant because organisational needs have evolved.
Establish standards, policies and procedures.
As in any discipline, it’s good business practice to define a ‘business as usual’ operating framework. This will also prove invaluable if or when you need to design a new network.
Your standards should record technical specifications for equipment, wire, cable, connectors, and all the other hardware, firmware and software that have, or that you will be acquiring.
We also recommend creating a formal record of policies and procedures for network operators and users, that should be revisited, audited and revised on a regular basis. It can make your life a whole lot easier in potential future problem situations.
Design for future growth and flexibility.
When you start looking at SDNs, virtualization and other application-based technologies, you’ll want to have cleaned up your existing network. Look for ‘configuration sprawl’ and start regularizing your network architecture, getting rid of any abandoned virtual local area networks (VLANs) and mismatched network segments. Then, as and when you’re required to suddenly expand your network, you will be ready to respond swiftly.
Think outside the network.
Don’t limit your view to your own network – consider its impact on other networks connected to it. You need to be able to see and analyze traffic to and from your host, so you can identify any developing issues long before they become a problem.
Apply the 80/20 rule.
Leverage the network management solutions that resolve your most common, most disruptive and most expensive problems the quickest. Find and fix the bad actors first, and then deal with the small stuff later.
Use a network monitoring solution that properly serves your needs.
You can’t manage what you can’t see. Use a network monitoring package that not only gives you complete visibility of your network, but also provides you with anomaly detection, accurate future predictions and intelligent real-time information – not just a pile of data – that empowers you to swiftly and accurately make meaningful business decisions.
Lastly, security comes first.
It isn’t enough to implement firewalls if they are not configured correctly. It isn’t enough to make sure that your antivirus software and patches are up to date and clear. You want to be confident that you’ve implemented the best security practices available, so make sure you consult with the relevant experts to make sure you get it right.