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03.26.2020 / Technology

Back to the Basics: Managing the Shift in Demands on Your Network

As business circumstances change and new realities set in, many Network Administrators have experienced a shift in support demands, from throughput demands on the network itself to end-user support needs. Maintaining cybersecurity protocols to protect business-critical systems while balancing remote access needs, many admins have found themselves going back to the basics in network administration. In this blog, we’ll cover a handful of best practices that can be applied given the current state of affairs. 

Update Firmware

Ensuring firmware is current is more important than ever. Device manufacturers update firmware periodically to address vulnerabilities and apply performance enhancements. Not only will having current firmware ensure network devices are running the most up-to-date programs, updating firmware could even give the network a needed performance boost. Firmware updates can be sought on the device manufacturers’ website or even auto-pushed through a software solution if programmed to do so. 

Monitor Firewalls and Switch Fabric

Haven’t looked at the rules governing your firewalls and switch fabric in a minute? Now is the time. When there is a change in the nature of traffic entering and information leaving your network – like a new distribution of traffic sources – keeping a visible eye on your firewalls and switch fabric can help you ensure proper traffic regulation and adherence to network security protocols. Finally, don’t discount the role new instances of human error can play here as well; your end-users are likely changing the way information is sent and received through the network, which could present a risk if proper monitoring isn’t in place. 

Assess VPN License Need

A continuation from above, but important enough to have its own mention is your VPN license count. As your workforce may be working from home, confirm your firewall has the appropriate number of VPN licenses. Conduct a quick audit to ensure your license count can support a surge in VPN license need, and continue to monitor this as it could change over time. Fortunately, additional licenses can be purchased remotely. 

Deploy an SD-WAN Solution

If you’ve been following our blog lately, you’ve likely seen that we’re big fans of SD-WAN these days. With cloud-based SD-WAN you can gain the advantage of granular visibility into your entire network from anywhere at any time, and from any web browser. You also gain a handful of useful applications, like instantly shutting down traffic to a device, rebooting a port, testing cable pinouts and receiving alerts if a device goes offline. Network administrators can self-install an SD-WAN solution like Cisco’s Meraki and roll out features like zero-touch provisioning remotely.  

Evaluate the State of Existing Server Backups

All businesses should be considering the state of existing server backups – especially physical servers limited to a single site. Businesses should have a plan to both store data in multiple sites and the capability to run critical workloads from multiple sites case circumstances prevent physical access to a server in need of maintenance that could result in an outage.

Armed with these efforts, network administrators can go a great distance in balancing traffic demands on the network, end-user needs and network security protocols to help business run smoothly. 

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