Because today’s businesses rely on their network like never before, the network needs to be available at all times to provide the connectivity required by remote workers, cloud applications, and automated systems. As the network has become critical to everyday operations, network troubleshooting has evolved from being a mundane task to one of the core functions of the Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) department.
Network troubleshooting is the all-encompassing work of discovering and correcting any network issue related to connectivity, performance, and security. The goal of any network troubleshooting process should be to identify and resolve the issue as fast as possible in order to avoid disrupting productivity due to unexpected downtime.
But as the network extends further and further, and is leveraged as part of almost every business process, the process of troubleshooting has only gotten more complicated. The larger the network, the more difficult it can be to quickly identify the problem and issue a fix.
An issue can be anything–a service outage, hardware failure, human error, a cyberattack, or even the result of a natural disaster. Without the ability to quickly figure out the what, where, and why of a network issue, businesses can experience downtime that can cost thousands of dollars in lost revenue, not to mention the incalculable cost of frustrated employees, users, and customers.
The 1990s Way: The Era of Manual Troubleshooting
When thinking about the right and wrong way to approach troubleshooting, it helps to compare today’s options to how it was done in the past (and is still practiced by some I&O teams today). In the 1990s, remote workers, SaaS applications, and the cloud were virtually non-existent. With the vast majority of the network located on-premises, networks were a relatively straightforward thing to administer and manage.
But straightforward doesn’t mean simple. Whenever an issue was detected, a network administrator would have to manually seek out the problem, isolate it, and oversee the repair. Here’s what a typical manual troubleshooting process looks like:
- Validation and triage: Once an alarm is raised, the admin has to identify what the alarm means and what is causing it, which can include a laborious effort researching other information to help inform triage. In addition, the admin has to spend valuable time validating the alarm to ensure it’s not a false positive before they waste time fixing an issue that doesn’t exist.
- Diagnostics: Once the issue is validated, the network admin has to confirm the impact of the issue to see if there are any secondary problems that will also need to be fixed. Meanwhile, they need to ensure that backup systems are operational and fail-over is properly configured so that downtime is kept to a minimum.
- Recording data: At this point, the network admin can then log into the ITSM to file an incident and gather, categorize, and submit the background information the network engineer will need to work their magic.
- Remediation: Now the waiting game begins. The network engineer will need time to do their work, and that’s assuming they don’t already have something more pressing on their plate. Once they are done, the network admin has to confirm all the changes are accurate, test the changes, and then escalate the issue if errors still occur.
The 2023 Way: Network Automation
As you can see, manual troubleshooting can easily take hours of painstaking work, not to mention all the time that is wasted between tasks. However, a modern approach that incorporates network automation makes it possible to automatically execute each step the second an alarm is identified.
Not only can automation complete each step faster, but it ensures that no time is wasted in-between steps, reducing the time it takes to resolve an event from hours to minutes. In many cases, the issue is able to be identified and remediated before users, employees, or even I&O teams notice something was wrong.
In addition to troubleshooting, network automation can help you mitigate the risk of issues in the first place with proactive network testing and preventative maintenance. This allows you to automatically find and fix potential issues before they can occur, further driving down the odds of unexpected downtime.
The time for I&O teams to make a change and adapt network automation is now. To learn more, download our latest eBook, Trapped in Time: 3 NetOps Practices to Modernize ASAP.