There’ve been a lot of changes in the IT world this year. With a global pandemic tightening budgets, reducing resources, and changing where we physically work, IT professionals have especially felt the pressure of adapting to the situation. And as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and offices stay remote, the need to focus on network health has never been more important.
We (virtually) sat down with our network monitoring expert Kevin Jackson, for an informative Q & A session to take stock of how strategies have changed with network monitoring, and gauge where IT professionals go from here. Here’s our conversation:
Question: Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, what's changed for how companies are leveraging network monitoring?
Kevin Jackson: Since the start of the pandemic, quite a few things have changed. The biggest change network admins have seen is the amount of traffic being utilized day to day because of the increased amount of remote services. Now, more than ever, network monitoring tools are increasingly important. IT needs to ensure that all required business services, systems, and applications are performing as they should and that every employee—no matter their location—is able to connect and use the resources they need to do their jobs.
Another shift is that, in most cases, IT teams are also working from home. That makes the need for remote access critical. This capability allows geographically scattered IT teams to share access to network monitoring tools to keep the network running optimally from anywhere. And a good network monitoring tool with remote access makes it easier to manage multiple sites with the same power and flexibility for monitoring your immediate office.
Q: Budgets have been hit especially hard during these difficult times. Why should companies still prioritize network monitoring?
KJ: Technology budgets have changed, or better yet, shifted. We’ve seen more spend being placed on infrastructure support and upgrades to increase bandwidth to support critical voice and data functions. But with an increase in remote work, don’t neglect the importance of network security and performance monitoring. These are increasingly important to protect business functions and ensure that business continues to perform without interruptions.
To keep business flowing, you need strong network monitoring and security protocols in place. Companies are not only seeing high bandwidth usage and more incoming connections, but there’s also been an increase in cyberthreats. Monitoring your network allows you to stay vigilant and have a good understanding of your new baselines of service so when something is out of place, you can jump into action.
Q: How do you see the “new normal” shifting the way people work after the pandemic and what could that mean for your network?
KJ: I think there will be a huge shift in the new workplace, as I don’t see most companies returning to full office settings. As telecommuting has shown to be a pretty effective way to work, I believe companies will take advantage and shift more employees to fulltime remote work. What will most likely change from that is whether on-premises infrastructure will be needed. Yes, there still will be some devices necessary in the office, but you will definitely start to see more migration to cloud based operations requiring cloud infrastructure monitoring.
Q: As companies look to future-proof their network, what should they look for in a network monitoring solution?
KJ: Network visibility will be needed more than ever as IPs are going to be disparate because of remote users and devices. Network monitoring solutions will be needed to give IT admins a way to track where these devices are, what networks they are coming from, and access where they are going. I think it will be very important to have a solution that can not only provide performance and bandwidth monitoring but also real-time network mapping of device locations.
Network topologies will be ever changing, so a solution that can dynamically update your documentation as new devices are added and removed will help with overall network operations. Bottom line, going forward you should focus on dynamic network mapping, performance monitoring, and secure solutions to future-proof your network monitoring strategy.
Q: Beyond the pandemic, what technological shifts or trends should network administrators be aware of?
KJ: I think the biggest shift that network administrators will see is more resources being hosted in datacenters and on cloud platforms. Telecommunications will be one of the biggest spends—and also biggest headaches—as more folks start to tap into and use more bandwidth. Voice and video are going to be the most prioritized traffic, as both require a substantial amount of bandwidth to ensure good call and video quality. I think you will start moving in the direction of true hybrid and full offsite cloud solutions a little quicker than expected.