Managing business technology in the mobile age

With the promise of greater productivity and operational agility, businesses are unsurprisingly keen to capitalise on the opportunities provided by “always on” working. However, employees’ expectations of 24/7 availability throw up a whole host of fresh challenges for network, server, and backup structures. With the prospect of downtime, or even a slowing down of service, both completely unacceptable to workers and their employers, businesses must ensure that they keep abreast of all potential threats to their network. Dirk Paessler, CEO of Paessler, a networking monitoring software developer, discusses.

In the face of much higher network traffic and the sheer number and type of networked devices, which only looks set to increase as the popularity of bring your own device (BYOD) grows, businesses must manage this extra strain on IT infrastructures with care. Organisations must look to address network issues before they have a chance to destabilise operations.

Keep track of your network

Network monitoring is a vital tool in managing business technology, but its importance is often overlooked. A network monitor can perform bandwidth monitoring and identify usage trends and errors, providing a clear understanding of how an IT infrastructure and its devices are behaving. It can also help organisations understand whether or not they are getting a return on their investment in mobility. Bandwidth monitoring is a particularly useful aspect of network monitoring, as it can alert system administrators to worrying patterns in network usage, and let them know when bandwidth limits have been exceeded.

By understanding when and where network traffic build-up occurs, businesses can begin to manage their networks more effectively by addressing network load issues before they have a chance to develop. It also means companies can potentially start to reduce costs by setting up their IT infrastructure according to verified usage patterns, instead of buying bandwidth and hardware according to rough projections, or even complete guesswork.

Don’t forget about hardware

In addition to mobile network devices, it is important to consider more traditional network components, such as servers, routers and firewalls. Most software-based applications, such as cloud storage providers and SaaS solutions, process a large amount of data on the server side of their infrastructure, and then exchange this data with the front end. As a result, IT infrastructures must be extremely agile in order to adjust to the demands on their business.

With such emphasis on apps, web pages and software, which allow users to access information from their mobile devices at any time, the underlying infrastructure requirements can easily be forgotten as demand increases. However, if a major problem occurs at the back-end of a service provider, it could potentially mean that millions of users are unable to access their data. Aside from being an issue that is likely to take a significant amount of time and money to fix, the damage to an organisation’s brand could be even more serious, necessitating an even longer and costlier campaign to repair the company’s reputation.

Make your IT system secure

Another benefit of network monitoring is that it helps to keep security under control. The mobile era has brought with it a sharp increase in the number of ways to breach an organisation’s IT infrastructure. This is largely due to the growth in BYOD culture. Indeed, Techconsult has estimated that 69 per cent of employees in companies with at least 250 PCs use private devices at work, which, if not managed carefully, could lead to significant network security problems.

Network monitoring in this instance allows system administrators to track a network’s critical access points. Employees using mobile devices can then be restricted to accessing systems over the wireless local area network (WLAN), and via VPN and Remote Desktop. In terms of hardware, network monitoring also lets administrators monitor laptops and notebooks for virus signatures and operating system patches.

Since mobile working is by its very nature around-the-clock, the network monitor is an indispensable tool, particularly in app form. Network monitoring apps allow system administrators to monitor an IT infrastructure remotely, and keep up with the status of the network 24/7, meaning that they can be alerted at the first sign of a problem, even if they are off-site.

Clearly, with the advent of trends such as BYOD, the mobile age is very much upon us. This will bring new and unique challenges to IT professionals, but by using a network monitoring tool, businesses can be confident that they are adequately equipped for a mobile future. By ensuring that they are prepared, and that they have a clear understanding of their IT infrastructure, businesses are far more likely to unlock all of the benefits of being an increasingly mobile and interconnected organisation.

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David Dungay

Editor - Comms Business Magazine