Archive for September 2018

What Is Network Maintenance? A Guide to IT Upkeep | September 27th, 2018

What Is Network Maintenance

As with auto, household and facility maintenance, sometimes your network requires a little extra assistance to avoid problems. While there are some preventative maintenance tasks you can perform on your own to minimize network downtime, you may find that you need to pair your efforts with those of the experts to keep your operations running smoothly on a daily basis.

Well-maintained networks encounter fewer problems and are much easier to troubleshoot than those left without consistent upkeep. To ensure that you don’t find yourself running with faulty settings, risking damage to both software and hardware over time, you will need to clean up your network regularly. That is where network maintenance comes in, and it is often most effective through a comprehensive third-party platform, like our Netguard program here at Worldwide Services.

What Does Network Maintenance Mean?

Network Maintenance Mean

Network maintenance means being on top of fixes, catching problems before they appear and taking all-around proactive care of your network. Keeping your CMTS, servers, routers, switches and network security up to date and creating the right safeguards will help you maintain steady business operations without the threat of data loss, system malfunctions, server crashes or breaches in security.

Technologies are continually advancing, and our dependence on IT solutions is growing. As your business expands, the requirements for your network to behave appropriately will also become more complex. New users and devices add strains on your network and connectivity, as do new programs and other installs. Maintaining both your software and the hardware that accompanies it keeps your system protected, and as with most preventative maintenance services, the best strategy starts with a comprehensive plan.

What Is a Network Maintenance Plan?

Network Maintenance Plan

Your typical network maintenance plan is the detailed package of services you can expect to receive to keep your systems running. This plan should cover the range of services your business will need to operate, including running necessary updates, ensuring proper installations and performing audits to detect potential errors. Often, your original equipment manufacturer (OEM) will offer management service plans to try and minimize complications with their products. But there are several reasons why relying on your OEM alone may not be the best course of action for your business.

One of these reasons is that you will want your network maintenance plan to be efficient, cost-effective and strategically flexible, which the expensive, rigid OEM contract doesn’t always guarantee. Neither can you be sure that your OEM will complete every task that is necessary for all of your network needs. What a third-party maintenance (TPM) provider can do is oversee your entire system, even if you use a variety of manufacturers, and do so at a much friendlier cost.

Additionally, a TPM can create a maintenance plan that’s entirely customized to your needs and usage habits, making sure not to overdo it on non-essential services, while also covering all of your network bases. It can be helpful to become more acquainted with examples of what these typical tasks are so that you can be more aware of potential needs within your system infrastructure.

What Are Examples of Network Maintenance Tasks?

Network Maintenance Tasks

Many business operators have a basic understanding of what network preventative maintenance is all about, but there may be some confusion surrounding the specific measures you can expect your service provider to perform. Here are six of the most common tasks involved with keeping your servers and devices up to speed.

1. Troubleshooting Network Issues

If warning signs or small troubles go ignored for too long, you may run into problems that are disruptive and potentially expensive to repair. What you network maintenance provider can do is use their experience and knowledge to troubleshoot any issues your network is experiencing, and they’ll be able to recognize if there is a simple fix. If there isn’t, you can be sure to receive several suggestions on the most viable and cost-effective solutions.

2. Installing and Configuring Products

Whenever you get new equipment or have software to update, it is very likely that there will be some form of installation and configuration needed. Similarly, when inevitable shifts occur in the office or a new user is added, your network settings may need to be reconfigured to accommodate those changes. If done incorrectly, the growth of your company could be hindered and valuable time may be taken away from your employees as they try to navigate improper settings.

For these reasons and more, getting started on the right foot is crucial. Your network maintenance provider can help with that.

3. Monitoring and Improving Network Performance

Network performance can be a quiet killer of your company’s potential. If the performance of your network is not up to par with other companies, then your company will have a much harder time keeping up with your competitors in other ways.

Network performance can be difficult to judge if you have nothing to compare it to. But by bringing someone in to troubleshoot and monitor your network, you’ll be able to see the truth about how it is operating and what can be done to make your system function more efficiently.

4. Planning for Growth

As a business, you are always looking forward. If you are not maintaining your network diligently, it may not be able to handle the weight of expansion as your organization grows. It’s essential that you have a server that is capable of adding more workstations if you plan on increasing the numbers in your workforce. You’ll need to be able to add these new users without any difficulty as they enter your network.

Additionally, by creating network documentation and keeping it up to date, the growth of your business will be obtainable without the risk of slowing down due to a lagging network. Making sure scalability is structured correctly in your system will optimize performance and reduce growing pains down the line.

5. Ensuring Compliance

An essential part of maintaining your network is making sure that all of your tools are compliant with your company’s policies and legal regulations. Compliance should always be a top priority. Not only do you want to avoid putting yourself and your business at risk, but it’s also critical to protect your customers. This responsibility may seem daunting, but with the right network maintenance plan, you won’t have to worry about regulatory upkeep constantly.

6. Establishing Reliable Network Security

Unfortunately, anyone can be susceptible to network breaches, especially without the right precautions in place. Considering the vast amount of data on your server, you don’t want to leave it unguarded. Fortunately, your network maintenance service can help secure necessary firewalls, VPNs and intrusion prevention tactics, while also setting up user validation systems that use a dependable authorization, authentication and accounting (AAA) method.

The security of your network is one of the most important elements to maintain, and consistent upkeep will help your company remain safe against potential threats. If a breach still occurs, a properly maintained network will have procedures in place for logging the event and automated responses to streamline the process of moving forward.

Bonus: Creating a Plan That Works for You

These are six common responsibilities, but there are many other tasks that a network maintenance plan can entail. Depending on your company’s needs, you may find advantages in other services, such as having your accounts managed, backups scheduled or faulty equipment replaced. Talking with your provider about your options will help you create the custom plan to keep your network and all of your devices functioning on their best behavior.

Which Hardware Devices Are Serviced Most Often Through Network Maintenance?

Network Maintenance Hardware

It’s good to be familiar with typical network maintenance tasks, but it may also be beneficial to understand the variety of firmware involved in helping your network run smoothly. Aside from regular workstations, your network is powered by an arsenal of other devices, including a cable modem termination system, servers, switches and routers. Here is a closer look at each of these and how maintenance keeps them at their best.

1. CMTS

A cable modem termination system, or CMTS, is a device that allows for the exchange of digital signals. It takes incoming traffic on a single channel and routes them to an ISP. A CMTS can serve different cable modem population sizes, and the cable modems associated with it do not change in quality dependent on distance.

Network security is helped with a CMTS, as they are capable of some basic filtering for protecting against attacks and unauthorized users. It is one of the reasons that it’s essential to perform updates and maintenance on devices like your CMTS, which prevent the decay of the systems that keep bugs and security threats at bay.

2. Servers

Having a reliable and working server is an integral part of having a secure, robust and profitable business. It allows you to manage network resources and stay consistent as a company. Technically, any capable computer, device or program can be a server, as long as it is a dedicated central repository that helps provide resources, such as the access to hardware, disc space or other necessary files and information, to any other computer on that network.

While any computer could work as your server, the functions that the server performs are going to differ from those of other workstations within the system. Most dedicated servers have unique features and configurations to boost their performance. A server might also be connected to separate power supplies, networks and even other servers. Because of any added high-performance RAM, faster processor, several high-capacity hard drives and the critical tasks the server performs, typical network maintenance on these computers tends to be much more intensive than that of your average workstation.

3. Switches

A switch receives incoming data and redirects it to the destination on the local area network. Essentially, a switch creates an electronic tunnel between a source and its destination where no other traffic can enter. Because of this, there can be communication with no collisions. However, if something goes wrong with the switches, your communication will likely be disrupted. Your network needs to be able to share information, and the proper maintenance can help you ensure that such connections remain strong.

4. Routers

While a switch creates a tunnel, a router connects networks. Routers are similar to switches, but they can also forward packets of information between different networks and are not limited to node-to-node communication on the same network as a switch is.

With routers, as with any of these devices, the software they run and the firmware itself are both susceptible to damages without the right regular upkeep. As part of your network maintenance plan, there should be a component to check over hardware for warning signs, like clogged fans or overheating. And just as with other computers in your network, making sure they have the latest updates to their code can help you avoid unwanted situations.

Keep Your Network Protected With Worldwide Services’ NetGuard Maintenance

Worldwide Supply NetGuard Maintenance

Whatever your network needs to keep it maintained, you can trust Worldwide Services to provide the field services, any hardware replacement and the resolution of any problems you may encounter. Whether you receive assistance from OEMs or not, our NetGuard maintenance program can supplement any contract you already have to ensure you get as much access to technical support and information as you desire.

Your OEM may not be giving you everything you require, or they may be doing so at over twice the cost than necessary. You can receive the assistance, both through hourly onsite technicians and access to an extensive virtual library of knowledge, without having those extra fees on your shoulders. With our 400 global service centers in 79 countries and our dedication to sustainable multi-vendor solutions, you can trust us at Worldwide Services to have your back in every circumstance.

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