Cloud computing and WANs: how a vacuum cleaner ruined months of work (and why it’s better to share network maintenance)!

Network ManagementNetworks

Sandrine Duriaud-Leysens, Marketing Manager Europe et US, Global Cloud Xchange, explains how the network has become almost a convenience and the basic principles are at risk of being forgotten.

Today, 71% of companies rely on cloud computing for their critical business and more than half of companies’ critical data pass through networks before being stored in the Cloud, access to which is also incorporated into the WAN. Through force of habit, the network has become almost a convenience and the basic principles are at risk of being forgotten. The first of which, in an international context, is management of the extended network, an increasingly complex task given the rise of cloud platforms and other remote branches, whose access to the network must be guaranteed and secured.

In terms of the figures involved, this management is undoubtedly a key element for a company to run smoothly. It’s a management that starts with the prioritisation of traffic depending on the type of application, as well as bandwidth management, and other prerequisites. To this end, more and more companies are using SD-WAN technology, an application layer dedicated to communication between available transport media to ensure the most optimal performance based on SLAs. A solution for which the benefits touted by publishers seem a little – too much? – idyllic.

The network, a convenience?

The fact remains that these choices, coupled with the evolution of information systems as a whole, require a wide range of IT skills to manage activity within the network. However, over time, for budgetary reasons as well as a shortage of skills, some IT departments are looking to reduce the skills necessary for configuring and supervising the network. The issue is precisely that transport networks and infrastructures and, furthermore, the different options for connection, via internet, LTE and soon 5G, outside the IT spectrum, are becoming a convenience. Add to that the publishers hailing the plug & play side of their solutions, forgetting that these need to be configured by competent and expert staff, and it starts to look like the perfect storm.

Data vacuum

Take the case of a client whose traffic seemed to be falling sharply at regular intervals. A huge problem when it came to a scheduled backup or other critical activity. Hours and hours were spent investigating. Why the drop in traffic? Why so regularly? They didn’t have to look far. A correlation was found… between the company’s cleaning times and the traffic interruptions. That’s right, the problem lay in the use of an electrical outlet to connect the vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately, it was also the plug socket to which the router was connected. A lack of electrical outlets is not sufficiently taken into account in risk management. What’s more, if there is no one available to identify and verify the connection, the issue becomes even more complex.

Sharing network management: a relevant and reasoned approach

This true story, as funny as it is, clearly calls for a more sensible approach to networks and the management of these infrastructures. As the months pass, the importance of and dependence on networks has been growing exponentially, with the added issue of security. And yet, at the same time, internal resources for maintaining them are in decline, and, with the COVID-19 crisis on top of everything, budgetary decisions are looking increasingly complex.

A one-stop shop to deal with all issues

Without outsourcing this management, we are advocating for shared management of maintenance and supervision. Jointly managed SD-WAN services are a flexible solution offering guaranteed peace-of-mind for the IT department. A peace-of-mind that is often undermined in the case of internalisation. In addition to untimely power cuts, the IT department finds itself dealing with multiple operators in as many countries, with points of contact, legislation, billing addresses and SLAs that are erratic and impossible to decipher, as well as a diffusion of responsibility in the event of a problem. Identifying the right person to contact in the event of an incident in Sudan or India can sometimes be a labyrinth of Kafkaesque proportions. Even in the best case scenario, the IT department still has to manage a multitude of invoices for as many countries, and even suppliers.

With a shared management approach, the IT department is in touch with a single point of contact for visibility and global centralisation. This person handles the supervision of network events, bandwidth and traffic prioritisation; while our experts are left to manage and maintain end-to-end networks. A one-stop shop, a single point of contact for global reticulations, with a close connection to the operator, not a number on an incident ticket. Finally, opting to co-manage networks involves a relationship of trust based on complementary skills and expertise.

And don’t let a vacuum-cleaner break your business!

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