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By Ennio Carboni

On the courts and on the network, coaches and IT managers are always looking for consistency and reliability. So when we have two of the strongest issues in the bracket squaring off in the Reliability Region for a trip to the Final Four, it’s sure to get interesting. (If you are wondering what this is about, check here for the full Ipswitch Madness.)

Outages and downtime not only create issues for IT, but put the business at risk. When systems are down, so is the workforce who relies on them to do their jobs. While not always an onsite issue, it’s always a huge concern. The need to get back online quickly takes priority over anything else. While getting back online fast is the prescription,  Unresolved Problems are often the lingering cold that is left unchecked in busy IT environments.

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Ipswitch March Madness Bracket

So we have to ask ourselves, what’s worse? Going offline or never fixing the problems that caused downtime in the first place? Tough call, but in the end, business screeching to a halt because the network is unresponsive has the potential to cost a lot. Therefore, Outages and Downtime is pulling out the ladders and the scissors and will be cutting down the nets.

The final trip to the Final Four is a battle between two really annoying and problematic issues coming out of the Influx Region. Point-in-Time events, such as NCAA’s own March Madness, create a drain on the network that can distract and slow down critical business functions. Any event that has the potential to create widespread delays and timed out sessions is something IT has to take serious. On the other hand, random Traffic Spikes creates its own set of issues because they often come when it’s least expected. Nothing can hurt productivity like a network that has a traffic jam.

Think about a trip to your favorite vacation spot on the Fourth of July and you get the picture about what a network may look like when an unexpected spike hits. So what is worse, the event sure to create a large spike, or the potential for a spike to come out of nowhere? When IT can plan for an event, they can usually handle it with relative ease, it’s when it comes out of nowhere that cause them to scramble. So therefore its midnight Cinderella for Point-in-Time events as Traffic Spikes moves on to the Final Four.

If you want to learn more about how March Madness applies to your daily work life, join us on April 9 for webinar entitled “Network Management’s Sweet 16 – Solve the Problems Competing for your Time“. Register here for the 8:00AM (US ET) tip off or here for the 2:00PM (US ET).

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By Ennio Carboni

March Madness is getting down to business as the pretenders have been weeded out and the contenders are getting ready to faceoff for a trip to the Final Four. Our own March Madness with a network management spin is off to its Final Four as we move through the Elite 8 today and Thursday. (If you are wondering what this is about, check here for the full Ipswitch Madness.)

The Bandit Region presents us with a heavyweight bout of network problems. The Bandwidth Hoarders are the folks in the office who watch videos on YouTube or Vimeo, or stream music from Spotify or Pandora, among other streaming activities that can cause strain on wireless networks. And of course there’s this year’s NCAA March Madness tournament which is always one of the most popular events each year that lead to a lot of bandwidth hoarding. Bogging down the network is the enemy of all network administrators. In contrast, BYOD is all about productivity. Workers want all of these devices, whether company-issued or personal, to be connected to the ‘net at all times. They’re doing their jobs like everyone else, yet they never miss whatever comes through text, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook or pretty much any program or site that makes their phone beep, ding or chime to mark the arrival of a message. 

(CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ipswitch March Madness: Bandits and Greys Hit Final Four

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Ipswitch March Madness: Bandits and Greys Hit Final Four

This kind of multi-tasking is not a common way to work for the Baby Boomers in the workforce. But the Generation Y crowd works well with multi-tasking using all sorts of devices and programs. They grew up with the Internet and MTV and rapid, short communication is a natural way for them to process information. But it can be sometimes taxing on a network environment with the average worker being hooked into the corporate network with three to four separate devices. This extra drain needs to be accounted for. While we praise the dedicated employee and quietly curse the hoarders, due to the sheer number of  those who want to bring their own [fill in the blank] to work, BYOD has punched its ticket to the Final Four.

Finishing out the left side of the bracket, the Grey Region seeks out its champion with Slow Apps against Lack of Visibility. Most IT admins will tell you that the problems they hear about from users (before they know they even exist) but are hard to identify and isolate the root cause, are some of the toughest to solve. For that reason Lack of Visibility is a strong contender for the title. Slow Apps (aka application performance problems) drives users crazy and is the number one problem faced by IT pros. It ranks first  because it is the issue they hear the most from their users. When email comes to a crawl, remote access is busted, or the sales team cannot access their CRM application, you can’t help  but notice.

Although Lack of Visibility makes finding the root cause of a problem to be a real pain, Slow Apps lead to a rush of help desk calls and open cases, and oftentimes less-than-pleasant demeanors from those seeking assistance. This game had two strong contenders, with Slow Apps  cutting down the nets on their way to their first Final Four.

Stay tuned for the next round between winners of the Reliability Region and the Influx Region in a few days.

If you want to learn more about how March Madness applies to your daily work life, join us on April 9 for webinar entitled “Network Management’s Sweet 16 – Solve the Problems Competing for your Time“. Register here for the 8:00AM (US ET) tip off or here for the 2:00PM (US ET).

 

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By Ennio Carboni

baylor2

Taurean Prince and Ish Wainright of the Baylor Bears celebrate after defeating the Creighton Bluejays 85-55 on March 23. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The 2014 March Madness games hit Sweet Sixteen this week with some of college basketball’s greatest men’s teams matched up against some of the most unlikely Cinderellas. I plan to watch Michigan State go up against Virginia at 10pm ET tonight to see how things play out. Moving along to our own March Madness games, with a network management spin, we are looking at those being played out in the Influx Region. To those in charge of network management, the introduction of new technology or a large influx of new users can produce its own kind of madness. In this game we matched ‘Introduction of New Technology’ with ‘Traffic Spikes’ to see which caused our team of experts greater angst. (If you are wondering what this is about, check here for the full Ipswitch Madness.)

Introducing new technology is always dicey, but at least you have the opportunity to test it along the way before rolling out the broader organization. Not that you always catch everything, but at least you have the opportunity to limit the damage. Traffic Spikes are a pointy fiend as they can disrupt your entire business. If your network or site goes down for too long due to an increase in traffic and you are unable to recover, it’s game over.

Therefore, Traffic Spikes are onto the Elite 8.

Our final matchup in round one pits ‘Fluctuating Number of Users’ against ‘Point-In-Time-Events’. Knowing how many people are attaching to your wireless network helps keep things running cost effectively. What doesn’t help is when you’ve got wireless network bandwidth hoarders doing things like streaming ESPN to catch up on March Madness games. But there are ways you can figure that out. At the end of the day you don’t want to overpay your ISP for bandwidth, but underestimating the need can be bad as well.

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The Influx Region (Round One): Network Management March Madness

Another other issue that can create a problem for IT is Point-In-Time events. One of the biggest examples of this phenomenon is taking place right now and was the inspiration for our March Madness exercise. According to a survey run last year, the tournament was expected to cost $134 million in lost productivity over the two workdays when the most popular games were being played (this year that’s yesterday and today). An estimated 3 million U.S. employees were expected to spend one to three hours at work watching the games, and two-thirds of all workers were expected to follow the tournament at some point during work hours.

That’s a lot of video streaming by bandwidth hoarders who are chewing up more than is allotted to them to get their jobs done, at the expense of others who experience application performance issues as a result.

For this reason, in one our tightest matchups to date, we’re moving Point-In-Time events into the final 8.

Today marks the end of the first round in our March Madness games. Stay tuned for next week’s posts when our teams will battle it out during semi-finals.

If you want to learn more about how March Madness applies to your daily work life, join us on April 9 for webinar entitled “Network Management’s Sweet 16 – Solve the Problems Competing for your Time“. Register here for the 8:00AM (US ET) tip off or here for the 2:00PM (US ET).

 

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By Ennio Carboni

In this week’s NCAA March Madness reliability was thrown out the window with major upsets, a broken ankle, a poor showing by a star, and a surprising blow-out. No matter how smart a team you have or how good a plan is in place, the life of IT staff also includes a dose of the unexpected. Because there’s always something unanticipated to deal with. It’s critical to be able ensure reliable service so you can focus on the surprises. (If you are wondering what this is about, check this out for the full Madness.)

Ipswitch March Madness: Reliability Region

Ipswitch March Madness: Reliability Region
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Outages vs. Downtime

The primary charge of any IT department is to keep everything moving. An unreliable network is simply unacceptable as productivity grinds to a screeching halt. That’s what makes the match ups in our Reliability Region so intriguing. What do our experts think is the most critical issue to contend with? Our first match up has Patchwork Solutions going head-to-head with Outages and Downtime. Piecing together a network of point solutions and spare parts is asking for trouble. All the bubble gum and duct tape in the world can’t sustain the network forever. Issues are sure to arise at the most inopportune time. While Outages and Downtime are often beyond your control, nothing gets IT folks moving like the network stopping. While Patchwork Solutions have the potential to be bigger problems down the road, the nod here goes to the immediacy and frustration of Outages and Downtime.

Outages and Downtime is moving onto the Elite 8. ipswitch_mm_teaser

Shrinking IT Budget vs. Unresolved Problems

In our second first round match up in the Reliability Region we put the Shrinking IT Budget up against Unresolved Problems. Nearly every IT department is facing the budget crunch so this is not an issue that is unique to any one market, but it is a serious problem nonetheless. IT is expected to do more with less every day and keep the network running at peak proficiency. Add to this the number of security and compliance protocols and IT is straight out. Unresolved problems could be considered a side effect of an overworked and understaffed IT department, but is a serious problem in its own right.  We’ve all been there. We do what we need to do in order to get things working again. But it often never really solves the problem. It’s like addressing the symptoms and not the disease. These only lie in wait for a chance to take a bite out of your network when you least expect it.

It’s a close one, but in the end, the ticking time bomb of Unresolved Problems wins out and moves on to the Elite 8.

If you want to learn more about how March Madness applies to your daily work life, join us on April 9 for webinar entitled “Network Management’s Sweet 16 – Solve the Problems Competing for your Time“. Register here for the 8:00AM (US ET) tip off or here for the 2:00PM (US ET).

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By Ennio Carboni

With comebacks, upsets and buzzer beaters, the first full day of the 2014 NCAA tournament proves that anything can happen” (Nate Rowlings, Time).  I couldn’t say it better than Nate. March Madness went into full gear last night with 18 college basketball teams falling out of the ranks. Speaking of ranks, today I’m sharing the latest results of our own tournament, with a network management spin. (if you are wondering what this is about, check this out for the full Madness.)

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Ipswitch Network Management March Madness: The Grey Region

Enter the Grey region.

The Grey region is all about visibility. Perhaps more appropriately, a lack of it. In our third matchup Unexpected IT Issues  went up against the sluggish Slow Apps. When your users reach out in every way possible to tell you how slow their [fill in the blank] application is working, unexpected issues are not hard to miss. And they can be difficult to pinpoint in order to make them go away. We conducted a study late last year that showed the number one issue among IT pros is application performance. Why? Because it is the number one complaint they hear from their users. Application performance problems may make folks around the office slow down in terms of productivity, but they make IT pros go full speed, trying to solve the problem and bring peace to the world.

For these reasons, Slow Apps are moving on to the Elite 8 of IT problems.

In the bottom half of the Grey region bracket, Shortcuts and Quick Fixes squared off against Lack of Visibility. Quick fixes are often necessary to get things running again in IT environments. They just don’t make for great long-term solutions. Shortcuts can live long. They can lie in wait and create big problems down the road.

A Lack of Visibility in an IT environment is a big bad. You can’t fix what you can’t find. And when you don’t know it’s a downed router tucked away in your server closet or datacenter, you may end up looking in a bunch of other places before you even get close to the culprit. No one wants to fly blind. A good way to make this problem go away is to have a clear and unified view into the entire network that pinpoints the exact problem. Fine-tuned network management can help the time it takes to resolve the issue go from hours or days down to minutes. For this reason, Lack of Visibility is off to the Elite 8 to take on Slow Apps.

Check back next week to find out the results for Reliability and Influx Regions. Enjoy the Madness this weekend. I know I will.

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By Ennio Carboni

In our first round of the Ipswitch Network Management March Madness Bracket we match Bandwidth Hoarders against the Understaffed IT department. (Yes, we jumped right over to the Sweet 16 as it seemed like overkill to start with 64.) Bandwidth hoarding and lack of people resources in IT are common to most organizations.

The network can be a fickle place and bandwidth is not unlimited. While shortages in IT  are not new (yet painful), not having the horsepower on the network when it’s needed most is an issue many network managers will face while folks catch up with the NCAA games during the work day. As a result, the Bandwidth Hoarders are moving into the Elite 8.

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Network Management March Madness: Bandit Region Results

In our second first round matchup in the Bandit region we pit Shadow IT against BYOD. BYOD has received its share and more of media attention as the average user these days carries more than three devices with them each day and onto the corporate network. This can create issues of bandwidth, security and a number of other concerns for IT. Shadow IT creates its own share of problems as the toughest problem to solve is often the one you don’t know about. By users creating their own environments and downloading programs that are not approved, the potential for network issues abound. When you look at the percentages, almost everyone has one or more personal devices whereas only a small amount embarks on their own IT strategy.

Therefore, BYOD is headed to the Elite 8 to match up against Bandwidth Hoarders.

What do you think about the outcomes of our first round matchups so far? Leave a comment below.

 

 

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By Ennio Carboni

One day following Selection Sunday, NCAA March Madness is off and running (or dribbling). Last Friday we threw out a teaser about our own bracket covering 16 of the top network challengers who’ll square off against one another. Today we’re revealing the 16 “teams”. (We figure 64 was overkill so we skipped right over to the Sweet Sixteen.)

Click here (or on the image itself) to check it out in full size.

ipswitch_march_madness_bracket_1_3.17 blog

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Ipswitch March Madness Bracket: Which Issues Will Cut Down the Net(work)?

Over the next two weeks we’ll cover these 16 network issues and problems more in-depth, as they battle it out on the court. In our case, the court is in the “Galactica” conference room where our own IT experts will make the call on who will advance to the next round. We’ll be tracking this with you every step of the way.

Have an opinion on who should take down their region or ultimately win out? Leave a comment below and print off the bracket to play along with us.

We realize that other bracket will get more attention this month and into next, but in the long run, we think ours has more legs.

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By Ennio Carboni

The NCAA March Madness college basketball tournament is one of the most highly viewed online sporting events in the U.S. each year. Whether diehard or fair-weather fans, in the workforce or on campus, all eyes will be fixed on the games and the 64 team tournament bracket.

march madnessAt Ipswitch, we’re not only celebrating one of the most exciting times of the year in sports, but also honoring the IT pros who will have to make sure their networks are ready to handle the increased traffic and bandwidth to support all that live video streaming. No one wants to have their productivity limited by slow apps because their colleagues are catching up on the tournament.

Check back Monday morning after the NCAA’s Sunday Selection to see our own March Madness Bracket, with a spin on network management. 

 

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By Ennio Carboni

“Sorry we are currently experiencing server issues. We hope to be back up and recovered shortly.” — @wa_status

When is the worst time for a network crash?: A. When you have 465 million users on your network. B. Days after you’ve been acquired for $19 billion. C. When the social media world is ready to  pounce on a high-profile failure. D. All of the “above”.

Unfortunately for WhatsApp, “D” is the answer and exactly the scenario they faced as their servers went down  unexpectedly for several hours the weekend before last (2/22). The issue got so bad that Jan Kaum, WhatsApp’s Founder was forced to come out over the weekend and offer the  following apology: “We are sorry for the downtime; it has been our biggest and longest outage in years.”

whatsappNow this post isn’t intended to take a shot at WhatsApp, but rather to serve as a warning to other companies as to what can happen and the damage that a  prolonged network outage can cause. Let’s be honest, the first thing most of us in the IT field do when we hear of a major outage is scan the names involved and  then give thanks that it wasn’t us. The reality is that when you are dealing with networks and technology, issues arise and downtime happens. The key is to sort out “WhatsUp” and limit the number of instances and the length of time required to get back online when problems arise.

For sophisticated architectures such as the ones needed to keep applications like WhatsApp running, it can take hours and hours to locate something as obscure as a downed router, while the network hiccup continues to wreak havoc.  Visibility becomes the key to keeping networks running and getting them back online in a matter of minutes, not hours.

So while WhatsApp bears the brunt of a high-visibility network failure, this marks a good time for a little self-evaluation as to whether you have the proper mechanisms in place to either help avoid a catastrophic shutdown or recover quickly so it’s not even the slightest blip on the radar. If you aren’t sure or the answer is no, this would be the perfect time to start asking questions and  gaining greater visibility into your networks. At the end of the day, you want to be able to tell folks WhatsUp when they tell you WhatsDown.

(this blog was first published by Wired Innovation Insights on March 3, 2014)

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By Ennio Carboni

I am keeping up with the Olympics at home. But I suspect some of my bandwidth hoarding colleagues are catching some of the competition while at work. With Sochi 9 hours away it is reasonable to think that many folks are trying to catch what’s happening before they can catch it on NBC. Now think about the fact that March Madness (here in the U.S.) is quickly approaching. Wireless network bandwidth hoarding may be quickly becoming a national pastime. A headache for businesses and universities. Ashley-Wagner-Face

No IT pro wants to see folks reacting to slowed access like Ashley Wagner did when seeing her scores from the judges last week. Fear not, there’s no need for grumpy cats to growl at BYOD when IT pros can truly understand the source of wireless performance problems like:

– Users who experience poor performance from oversubscribed access points or poor signal strength

– Business critical applications that get bogged down by bandwidth hoarding. Including folks accessing unauthorized music, video, or gaming apps. (or watching Olympics or March Madness)

– Increased network density from BYOD that may surpass your initial wireless network deployment

– The impact on security with the exposure to rogue access points.

These performance problems require you having the ability to best determine how to redeploy, update, and protect your wireless network. This will let you handle what’s happening now and lay a strong foundation for the future.

How you can gain these abilities is something my colleagues will be glad to teach you more about during an upcoming webinar. On Tuesday, February 25 join us for “4 Ways Network Monitoring Improves Health of Networks”.  Register here to catch the webinar at 8am US ET that Tuesday, or here if you care to join at 2pm US ET.

And like the Olympics and March Madness, there’s always a replay.

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