Get Out of the Mud of Sinking IT and Business Productivity

The phrase “quick and dirty” is popular in the business world, but in some ways it’s really kind of a misnomer. Take for example an IT department that is stuck in the mud of network, applications and server performance problems. Things are certainly dirty, but they are definitely not quick.

In this sense, being stuck in the mud isn’t just about slow or intermittent performance issues; it’s about IT departments making the slow trudge through an entire suite of solutions hoping to discover the root cause; it’s about users suffering lapses in productivity and it’s about SLAs that go unmet.   get out of the mud

If you want to get unstuck—and we hope that you do—you can take your first step out by checking out one of our latest eGuides, Get Out of the Mud of Sinking IT and Business Productivity. This informative eGuide will show you how to leverage dependency-aware mapping to create a unified dashboard of your network and application infrastructure and improve fault isolation and resolution speeds for increased business productivity.

The tools and techniques covered are affordable and easy to deploy—meaning you’ll never feel stuck in the mud again. Some of the challenges discussed in the eGuide include:

Low IT Productivity

If you can’t identify the fault that’s causing your performance problems, how can you fix it? Answer: you can’t. Disparate, open source, or inherited monitoring solutions often make it unnecessarily complicated for you to identify root cause. To do that, you’ll need a solution with dependency awareness and rapid discovery and mapping to find that root cause—and reclaim your lost time. Otherwise, as we note in the eGuide, you’ll end up taking this route:

The alternative is to manually and painstakingly map your entire network— and create each and every dependency individually (numbering hundreds or thousands of devices)—which can result in your team losing days and weeks of valuable time. That’s time that could have been spent on more productive tasks that add value to your organization and enhance its core competencies.

Low User Satisfaction

An unhappy user is an unproductive user—and unproductive users tend to voice their complaints. First to you, then to management. Your users aren’t interested in your excuses. All they ask for is an available network that runs smoothly, giving them the ability to work efficiently so that they can deal with their own job tasks—instead of worrying about yours.

In the eGuide, we explain how to keep your users happy by anticipating and fixing network problems before they happen, and how to find a fast, easy way to isolate issues—and keep that network running.

Budget Limits

Expectations for network performance (and those who manage it) have skyrocketed in recent years, while budgets have remained relatively flat. This becomes extremely problematic when companies decide to go with vendors who employ per-port pricing model. In the eGuide, we explain why it’s more cost-effective to leverage a per-device pricing model, and that by doing so, you won’t end up paying for expensive upgrades after evaluation or when it’s time to renew your license.

So if you’re looking for a “quick and clean” solution to your network performance problems, then be sure to check out the latest eGuide here:

Get Out of the Mud of Sinking IT and Business Productivity >>>

Noble Truth #1: Networks Buckling Under BYOD and Bandwidth

The IT world is constantly growing and changing—and we don’t just mean that in a generic sense. It’s literally growing. Take, for example, the number of devices, traffic and load on your network. Demands on your network continue to skyrocket, while the proliferation of business applications, unified communications, mobile devices, and big data place an added stress on your infrastructure.

Network traffic jam infographic
Network traffic jam infographic

Naturally, many networks are not prepared for this type of growth. All of this contributes to the challenge of maintaining uptime, performance, and service levels for your network. It’s a hard truth that many network managers are learning the hard way. It also happens to be “Truth #1” in one of our latest eGuides, the 9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring each truth in greater detail, with the intent of helping you overcome the many challenges associated with ensuring peak performance of your network.

With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at Truth #1: The number of devices, amount of traffic, and load on your network is exploding.

Bandwidth Hogs

Bandwidth-intensive applications, like Microsoft Lync, SharePoint, and Exchange, have contributed to a global IP traffic problem.  In fact, global IP traffic has increased by five times the amount it was at five years ago.  Over the next five years, it’s expected to increase another three times over.

In the workplace, business-critical applications and services enable users to move large volumes of data across multiple networks with ease.  At home, entertainment services, like YouTube, Netflix, and iTunes, further contribute to network bottlenecks.  By 2018, IP video traffic is expected to become 79 percent of all IP traffic—impacting both consumers and businesses.  With so much of the modern business world being dependent on the ability to interact and transact online, this lack of bandwidth is a serious problem.

Finding Root Cause

Whether it’s email, file transfers, or web conferences, high-quality bandwidth is absolutely and fundamentally vital to business communication.  If IT teams can’t pinpoint the bandwidth hogs among us, how can they be expected to prevent service degradation?

When you’re dealing with an interconnected web of software and applications on your network, finding the root cause of a performance issue becomes an incredibly difficult task.  Without finding the bottlenecking bandwidth hog, how can you improve performance?

Managing Bandwidth

Attempting to manage bandwidth by balancing the needs of business-critical software and applications over an always growing number of connected consumer devices is no easy task.  However, with how quickly bottlenecks can down a website’s performance, lower the quality of video, or drop conference calls, managing bandwidth is essential to keeping your business running efficiently.

To do so—and to do so efficiently—you’ll need a comprehensive network performance monitoring tool like Ipswitch WhatsUp Gold that alerts you to problems before your users do. Download your free trial today. And be sure to check out our eGuide to learn more about the 9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring.

Escape the Dark Ages of Poor Network Performance and Low Availability

Most people tend to associate the Dark Ages with horrible things like war, famine, disease and Monty Python but they probably don’t associate it with network performance and availability issues. Unless that person happens to be an IT administrator.

For this group, the Dark Ages take on a whole other meaning. It’s about having difficulty addressing problems with availability and performance of their network, applications and servers. It’s about being blindsided when an issue arises, forcing them to be reactive rather than proactive. It’s about mounting user complaints with regard to slow or spotty performance. And it’s about time that changed!

If your organization depends on disparate, out-of-the box monitoring systems, you don’t have the visibility you need to get to the root cause of an issue quickly—or the ability to anticipate problems before they happen. Our latest eGuide, Escape the Dark Ages of Poor Network Performance and Low Availability, can give you some tips on how to move towards the light. In other words, how device and dependency awareness in your monitoring system can greatly improve visibility.   Escape the Dark Ages of Poor Network Performance and Low Availability

Here are some proven methods to map your networks and applications, so you can develop a comprehensive network performance dashboard that will keep you ahead of problems and help you avoid wasting time chasing down false positives.

7 Key Capabilities

You know that “slow” is the new “down.” And you also know that today’s systems are increasingly complex and interconnected. Therefore, you need a performance monitoring solution that offers a single, integrated view across your network, applications and servers. When evaluating solutions, make sure it offers these seven capabilities:

  1. Device and dependency awareness. If you want to avoid the domino effect when a problem arises (because you didn’t account for the dependencies between devices on your network) you need a map of all those interconnections. But manually creating a network map is labor-intensive. Instead, look for a solution that has dependency awareness and layer 2/3 mapping and discovery designed into it without manual effort.
  2. Real-time alerts and drill-down/historical dashboards. With threshold-based real-time alerts you get early warnings of potential problems. The right dashboard will help you to find problems quickly and spot trends.
  3. Automatic fix of known problems. Your solution should enable you to use Active Scripts, PowerShell scripts and embedded action to restart services, reboot network devices and services, and initiate malware scans—automatically—for problems you know how to correct.
  4. End-to-end integrated monitoring. With a “single version of the truth” you’ll be able to simplify IT operations—and your life!
  5. Speed to production. Make sure you can be up and running quickly with production-ready monitoring that features dependency awareness and rapid discovery and mapping.
  6. Transparent device-based pricing. Port-based pricing can drive up your total cost of ownership. Lock in device-based pricing.
  7. An integrated system from a proven industry leader. Your small or medium business deserves enterprise capabilities from an experienced vendor.

Ready to Climb Out of the “Basic” Monitoring Pit?

To solve problems with poor network performance and low availability, you need a single, integrated solution from a well-seasoned vendor. It must go beyond “basic” monitoring to:

  • Get to the root cause quickly and easily with dependency awareness
  • Save time with rapid discovery and mapping
  • Improve visibility with layer 2/3
  • Make your users more productive
  • Be production-ready within an hour

If you’re ready to shine a light on your network and performance monitoring needs, check out Escape the Dark Ages of Poor Network Performance and Low Availability.

An Introduction to the 9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring: Part 3

Over the past few weeks we’ve taking a sneak peak at our latest white paper “9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring.”

Today, we explore the final three truths in more detail.

Truth #7: Unified monitoring is essential across wired and wireless networks, physical and virtual servers, and applications.

As business relies more and more on IT to achieve success, a glitch in one area can have a ripple effect across the entire organization. No matter where the problem lies, you must be able to conclusively identify its root cause and assign responsibility for resolving it. To do this, you must have complete visibility across the whole infrastructure.  A unified monitoring solution across wired and wireless networks, physical and virtual servers and applications is essential as IT teams evolve and handle escalating IT complexity.     Ipswitch 9 Noble Truths

Truth #8: Automatic discovery and continuous dependency mapping saves time and enables you to find and fix problems faster.

Today’s networks are highly dynamic with changes constantly happening – new application deployments, new infrastructure coming online, office reallocations, mergers/ acquisitions, new dependencies among components, and so on. The ability to see and understand the relationship between devices is critical to managing your infrastructure, and to quickly be able to identify the root cause of problems. How can you respond rapidly to a problem when you’re chasing down false alarms? Automation ensures teams get the most meaningful alerts about the right devices at the right time. When your dependency maps are always up-to-date, your infrastructure reliability improves.

Truth #9: Simplicity and automation accelerate time-to-value

In a world of increasing complexity, IT teams need tools that solve real problems, install easily, don’t require teams of experts to configure, and deliver rapid time-to-value and ROI. As the pressure continues to mount on IT to meet availability targets, automation becomes essential as a means to understand, monitor and inform teams about the network’s makeup and potential for problems. Yet, such a tool can be powerful and flexible without being costly or complex to deploy and manage. IT teams want tools that just work – out of the box – with no fuss.

Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 of our blog series and check back soon as we will be discussing the solutions to the 9 Noble Truths. In the meantime, you can download the white paper and learn:

  • The nine truths for deploying network, server and application monitoring
  • How IT teams can meet the need to thrive while doing more with less
  • How to find and fix problems before users are impacted

An Introduction to the 9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring: Part 2

In this blog series based on our white paper, “9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring,” we’ve been delving into the problems plaguing IT and describe individual paths for each solution. Here, we continue with the next three 9 Noble Truths.

Truth #4: Downtime is not an option

You can’t afford downtime in today’s non-stop world. Aberdeen Group’s research found that between June 2010 and February 2012 the cost per hour of downtime increased by 38%. As organizations continue to automate and rely on the network to get business done, the increase cost of downtime will only continue to rise. Every type of company relies on an application on a network to complete some aspect of its work process—and a stop there means a stop to business.

Truth #5: Network and application performance defines your reputation

Ipswitch 9 Noble Truths
7 Most Common Root Causes of Network Performance Issues

From the perspective of customers, partners and employees, your network is your business and your reputation is on the line every time it is accessed. Major incidents like an outage or a security breach have the power to impact reputation – and according to a recent study by IBM and Forbes, reputational damage lasts far beyond recovery times. There are no second chances when it comes to the deployment of new IT infrastructure and services. “Organizations that have capabilities for measuring quality of end-user experience are twice as likely as other companies to improve their brand reputation,” said Hyoun Park, Research Analyst, Aberdeen Group.

Truth #6: You must find and fix problems before users are impacted

IT teams shouldn’t find out that users are having problems from the helpdesk. You must be able to proactively identify and resolve issues before users report service degradations. Proactivity comes in three steps, and will be discussed in the next few weeks.

Be sure to read Part 1 of our blog series and check back soon for another peek at our 9 Noble Truths. In the meantime, you can download the white paper and learn:

  • The nine truths for deploying network, server and application monitoring
  • How IT teams can meet the need to thrive while doing more with less
  • How to find and fix problems before users are impacted

An Introduction to the 9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring: Part 1

Ipswitch 9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring
New White Paper from Ipswitch

How can IT teams meet the need to thrive while dealing with an increasingly large and complex environment, constantly “doing more with less” and the requirements to deliver near-zero downtime?

In our new white paper, “9 Noble Truths of Network, Server and Application Monitoring,” and part of an ongoing blog series, we delve into the problems plaguing IT and describe individual paths each solutions.

Let’s take a first-look at the first 3 of the 9 Noble Truths. I’ll go into more detail on each one over the coming weeks.

Truth #1: The number of devices, amount of traffic, and load on your network is exploding

As users continue to indulge in entertainment services such as YouTube, Netflix and iTunes over the corporate network, this further increases the risk of bottlenecks and slowdowns. Yet with so much business being transacted online these days, from email to file transfers to VoIP to web conferences, high-quality bandwidth is absolutely and fundamentally vital to business communication.

Truth #2: Business comes to a halt when IT infrastructure and applications perform poorly

Your IT systems are at the center of almost every customer interaction, and this trend is only increasing as organizations continue to deploy more self-service processes. It’s well known that slow transactions reduce conversion rates, and that poor service responsiveness leads to frustrated customers, disgruntled employees and poor user experiences.

Truth #3: IT complexity is growing faster than your IT team

As put it: Managing an IT project is like juggling chunks of Jell-O. Information technology is especially slippery because it’s always moving, changing, adapting and challenging business, as we know it. Factors contributing to the mounting complexity of IT include BYOD/ consumerization of IT and regulatory demands

The challenge facing IT teams is how to thrive in a world where complexity and risks in your IT environment are almost certainly growing faster than your IT team.

Be sure to check back in on Tuesday for another peek at 9 Noble Truths. In the meantime, you can download the white paper here and learn:

  • The nine truths for deploying network, server and application monitoring
  • How IT teams can meet the need to thrive while doing more with less
  • How to find and fix problems before users are impacted

Top 3 Priorities for K-12 Network Managers: Discussions at FETC

I had a lot of conversations with IT Directors, network administrators and other IT staff at FETC this past week in Orlando.  As we talked about their top priorities and challenges, there were three topics that kept coming up over and over again.

First: I don’t know what is connected to my network.

School networks have grown very quickly over the last several years and very few people could identify how many devices were on their networks. This means that valuable equipment could be lost or forgotten. One attendee told us that his boss wanted him to map the network by hand. He laughed off the idea as both time consuming and impossible to maintain accuracy in the long run.

Having a complete network diagram means you know everything connected to your network. This takes only around thirty minutes to an hour to complete and gives you deep discovery into layer 2 and layer 3.

Second: The best sessions have been around wireless issues.

Not that I am surprised, but people are very focused on making sure their wireless networks are up to snuff with all the new technology that is being so rapidly purchased. The requirement around more reliable wireless performance is real and it is not going away.

Bandwidth comes at a premium in K-12
Bandwidth comes at a premium in K-12

It is critical that schools understand their networks and how much bandwidth is flowing through it. Bandwidth monitoring is a critical component of managing a modern day school network because virtually every single activity done in a classroom today has a wireless component and where there is wireless networks; there are bandwidth hogs. Classrooms today need to use proactive bandwidth monitoring to ensure that instruction takes priority over recreation.

Third: I wear many hats.

I must have heard the sentence “I wear many hats” in 9 out of 10 conversations. The lines between teachers and IT department seem to blurring as the consumerization of IT floods the classrooms. Between schools getting 1:1 learning started, BYOD policies in place, and nearly every school purchasing technology for instructional purposes, teachers are being looked upon as first tier support for their own classrooms.

But is, does this make the IT Department’s jobs easier or harder? If teachers are doing support without the tools to quickly find and fix the source of a slowdown, doesn’t that simply create duplicate work while valuable instructional time is wasted?

There was also a welcoming for resources and expertise to help them make their job easier. To support this, we prepared  a K-12 Resource Center specifically for K-12 IT directors/managers and network administrators  that shows how network monitoring can in fact keep kids learning and teachers teaching.

2015 Trendwatch: Internet of Things and SDN

With 2015 just a few days away, folks at companies like ours are reflecting upon the past year while predicting and planning for the New Year ahead. Our recent “Happy Holidays?” survey, polled 206 IT professionals in the U.S. and asked about their 2015 resolutions. Forty-three percent of all respondents resolve to increase IT security measures. The same number of respondents pledge to solve network and IT problems faster while a much smaller percentage (14 percent, to be accurate) seek to find their network’s wireless bandwidth hoarders.

Looking outside our own walls, I’ve recently read through Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015 and here’s my take on a few of them:

Gartner Top 2015 Strategic Technology Trends (Source: Gartner)
Gartner Top 2015 Strategic Technology Trends (Source: Gartner)
  • Internet of Things (IoT): While Internet of Things-inspired usage models will open up new go-to-market opportunities, these opportunities will first require technology bets. Secondly, we also believe that proprietary competing systems for communication, data aggregation, workflow integration will proliferate – however, in order to scale well a person will need not to have picked Betamax. Additionally beyond this, Gartner’s larger point remains very important: it is time to embrace paradigm shifts and adopt new business models wherever they may come from.
  • Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure: Many hardware constraints are giving way to configurable flexibility and elasticity, just we saw with virtualization. However, the “you can do anything” mentality has to be constrained by “so what should you be doing?” It is a classic design problem: the same components can be used properly or improperly. This is the start of an adventure, missing rules of thumb, mature standardization and, yes, knowledge that we will have a few years from now. For IT to step into this future requires: an investment in the smartest people, openness to the new, training and commitment to prudent risk training within the usual cost constraints. Speed will also be integral to gain competitive advantage – everyone is in this race.

Speaking of the Internet of Things, wearable technology and other portable Internet-enabled devices will put more and more strain on network resources including wireless bandwidth. Our Flow Monitor tool can help IT pros understand wired and wireless bandwidth consumption and network traffic. If you like, give it a try for free for 30 days.

As we head into 2015, what will the New Year have in store for IT? Only time will tell!

How the Grinch Stole Wi-Fi

There is nothing like the excitement of Christmas morning, and if history is any indicator, on Thursday morning Wi-Fi is going to slow to a crawl all over the U.S. and beyond.

There is a phenomenon that takes place every holiday season, sometimes referred to as the “Christmas effect,” when Internet traffic slows to a crawl due to the overwhelming number of devices coming online. Even Christmas lights have been known to have an adverse effect on Wi-Fi.

When coupled with the amount of web traffic generated by those trying to register new items online or reach the help desk, the Internet is literally “blowing up” around Christmas.


Gadgets Become Wi-Fi Network Hoarders

Some quick research into last year’s top selling Christmas gifts confirm that electronic devices continue to rule the present domain and that the assault on bandwidth is only really beginning. Top sellers from last year include: 1) Microsoft’s Xbox One, 2) Sony’s PS4, 3) Apple’s iPad. All three of these devices can be described as technology marvels capable of providing one-stop entertainment. They can also be looked at through the lens of being bandwidth hoarding machines that when used in tandem have the ability to dramatically slow Internet service.

The focus on electronics is again full steam ahead for 2014. New tablets, smartphones, laptops and gaming systems are only a few of the items that have service providers more than a bit worried. If that weren’t enough, 2014 has also seen a rise in wearable technologies that have been having an impact on corporate and home networks alike. Ipswitch recently completed its second annual “Happy Holidays?” survey that asked IT professionals what hot gift items were most likely to negatively impact the Internet and network performance. Not surprisingly, the top vote getters were: smartphones at 35 percent, wearable technology with 26 percent, laptops at 23 percent and tablets with 16 percent.

Christmas survey

The Grinch Who Stole Wi-Fi

With the big day rapidly approaching organizations will be under the gun to ensure that they can handle the level of traffic to their site and field the flood of inquiries from their many new customers. Christmas represents by far the largest spike in one day traffic to the help desk. Portions of websites and bandwidth will be at a premium as customers are anxious to use their new devices and will have limited patience for slow connections and downed sites.

This is expected to be another banner year for both retailers and the electronics industry. So while all of the recipients of these hi-tech gadgets will be pleased to learn that the Grinch has spared Christmas, they may be simultaneously saddened to learn he chose to steal the Wi-Fi instead.

Check out our on-demand webinar “7 Habits of Highly Effective Network Monitoring” to learn how to simplify root cause identification, and create an up-to-date, complete picture of your company’s wired and wireless networks, servers, and applications — and keep the grinches away from your network.


How the Network Stole Christmas

Yesterday we announced the results of our second annual “Happy Holidays?” survey where more than 200 IT pros shared compelling data on the impact that network issues have on their ability to enjoy the holidays. To the surprise of no one, IT pros are bearing the brunt of the burden in keeping organizations operational during the holiday season.

Christmas survey

Some of the key findings from the survey revealed that:

  • Forty-nine percent of all respondents noted they are either on-call or working this holiday season
  • Nearly half of respondents (48 percent) will be thinking about work even when they’re not in the office!
  • Who tops the IT naughty list? 24 percent of respondents said the executive suite, 20 percent thought that fellow employees should hold that distinction while 12 percent answered vendors
  • Of note, 32 percent of all survey respondents believed all three groups of people should top the network naughty list.
  • Issues they are likely to deal with over the holidays include user problems with network access as noted by 57 percent of respondents. Forgotten passwords and poor application performance tied for second with 18 percent each.
  • Of all the new gadgets likely to be gifted this Christmas, IT ranked them in this order of potential network impact: smartphones 35 percent, wearable technology, 26 percent, laptops 23 percent, and tablets at 16 percent.

Check out our on-demand webinar “7 Habits of Highly Effective Network Monitoring” to learn how to simplify root cause identification, and create an up-to-date, complete picture of your company’s wired and wireless networks, servers, and applications — and keep the grinches away from your network.