Your business network is an invaluable part of your organization. Whether you’re inputting sensitive patient data, managing construction projects or completing administrative tasks, network uptime supports smooth operations. Though uptime is vital, it isn’t always guaranteed. Let’s take a deeper look at uptime and ways you can optimize it for your business.
What Does Network Uptime Mean?
Network uptime refers to the time when a network is up and running. In contrast, downtime is the time when a network is unavailable. A network’s uptime is typically measured by calculating the ratio of uptime to downtime within a year, then expressing that ratio as a percentage.
The concept of “five-nines” — a network availability of 99.999% — has been an industry gold standard for many years. This uptime percentage translates to about 5.26 minutes of unplanned downtime a year. Though five-nines or 100% uptime rates may be difficult to achieve, getting as close as possible is a worthwhile pursuit. Your business likely feels the impact of even a fraction of uptime difference. Making sure your service provider meets your requirements can help you minimize the costs of unplanned downtime.
Service Level Agreements and Uptime
Service level agreements (SLAs) promise a set of performance standards between a service provider and their client. In an SLA, a provider may:
- Identify customer needs
- Provide a foundation client comprehension
- Address potential conflicts
- Create a space for dialogue
- Discuss practical expectations
SLAs can help you determine whether a service provider meets your company’s needs and wants. The central components of an SLA are uptime, packet delivery and latency. While successful packet delivery and low latency are important, uptime is an especially crucial component to consider. Network service with high availability translates to maximum profitability for your business.
The Costs of Downtime
Network failure is a huge inconvenience, but even the best systems confront unforeseen issues. A power outage, for example, could cause hardware failures and threaten network reliability. In this scenario, you could increase your network uptime with a backup power supply. But if you haven’t planned for the situation, you might face extra difficulties taking reactive measures and returning your network to normal function.
Network downtime can cost a business thousands of dollars each minute, which makes 24/7 network monitoring essential for many industries. With Worldwide Services, you can protect your business from downtime with our recurring network and IT maintenance. Worldwide Services can help you prevent unnecessary network outages and prepare for when they occur. We’re experienced with a variety of different industries and are equipped to make uptime minutes count.
How to Determine Server Uptime
You can calculate your network uptime with some simple math:
- 24 hours per day x 365 days per year = 8,760 hours per year
- Number of hours your network is up and running per year ÷ 8,760 hours per year x 100 = Yearly uptime percentage
For example, if your network is down for one hour total during an entire year, this is how you calculate your network uptime:
- 8,759 hours ÷ 8,760 hours = 0.99988
- 0.99988 x 100 = 99.988%
You can also use free or paid website monitoring services to check your server uptime. A website monitoring service tracks and tests your servers and may send an alert if something goes wrong. Besides checking network uptime, comprehensive monitoring services offer feature-heavy programs to keep your business operational during network disturbances.
Worldwide Services can support your network by resolving hardware failure, managing your network performance and providing 24/7 network monitoring through our network operations center (NOC) services. With our services, you can significantly decrease network downtime and maintain optimal customer satisfaction. Since our IT management team handles your network issues, your staff can be more productive at what they do best. You can also stay up-to-date about what’s going on with your network with our real-time tracking services.
How to Improve Network Uptime
Your business can learn how to increase network uptime by analyzing the structure of your network architecture. Network architecture is typically composed of four main parts — the core network, interconnection networks, access networks and customer applications. The core network is the network component from which we expect optimal performance, or five-nines. The core network is also essential to the other parts of the network as its functions support customers who are interconnected with the access network.
From the access network, clients can open customer applications. But if there is a problem with the access network, such as the local area network (LAN), clients may receive less than optimal results. The LAN may be negatively affected by the infrastructure of the provider’s network terminating unit (NTU) that connects the customer’s equipment on location with the network.
Decreasing downtime starts with identifying potential points of failure like above and addressing them before they cause issues. These are our top network uptime best practices and ways to improve network uptime for your business.
1. IT Mapping
When you assess the core components of your network architecture, you can create an IT map detailing network device availability and network health. The map should show all your IT assets and services, including inventory hardware, software, and relevant locations and vendors. When completed, you can use the IT map to:
- Note how network components are connected with one another.
- Consider how one failure might affect another device or functionality in the overall IT system.
- Identify what components are most essential.
- Note unnecessary redundancies and potential issues with physical resources.
- Look for vulnerabilities and re-organize accordingly.
In addition to hardware, it’s a good idea to get a headcount of all the other IT resources that are critical to the system. This may include:
- Human resources
- Executive officials
- End users
Map these resources in regards to their qualitative and quantitative effects. Operational budgets, for example, could be mapped to recovering your IT system.
2. Hardware Warranties
The migration from physical systems to cloud services has lessened the weight many businesses once carried knowing they could lose vital infrastructure. Though cloud services are on the rise, many businesses still rely on smaller devices like projectors or tablets for essential functions. While repairs can be an option, relying on a warranty for hardware repairs is usually the better option.
If a piece of hardware is still under warranty, you shouldn’t have to pay for repairs or replacement, which helps you minimize the total costs of system downtime. It can be helpful to keep track of how long a warranty lasts for a piece of hardware, what’s covered under the warranty and which pieces of hardware are reaching the end of their warranty. If a piece of hardware is nearing the end of its warranty, compare the costs of repairing it and replacing it with upgraded hardware.
3. Software Management
It’s also helpful to keep track of your software, whether you have Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) subscriptions or local programs. A system performance management (SPM) provider can help you manage your software inventory, including titles, upgrades and deployment. The most useful SPM programs have holistic functionality that also lets you monitor overall network health by collecting and analyzing other operational metrics.
With a solutions-focused SPM provider, you’ll only need one platform to manage your network performance. Effective SPM programs should be able to manage and solve your network issues, all while keeping you in the loop with automatic updates.
4. Faster Connections
Faster Ethernet connections can help prevent outages due to traffic overload. Many businesses connect their servers to the internet with Ethernet connections that run at 10 gigabits per second. To support uptime, consider switching to a faster Ethernet speed like 40 gigabits per second. Depending on your network, you may experience dramatic spikes in usage that can bog down a slower Ethernet connection. A 40-gigabit per second router-to-router link can keep things running smoothly for everybody.
5. Security Patches
It’s common for security updates to take place immediately as they become available, but this timing can be cumbersome for your business. Most security patches require system restarts, which can disrupt your uptime during crucial operating hours. Plan patches for a time when you can increase your network’s safeguards and reduce disturbances.
When you trust Worldwide Services to maintain your server systems, our technical support team can help manage your security patches. With the right patch timing, you can enjoy better productivity, increased security strength and greater regulatory compliance.
A cache is a data-layer stored in a computer’s random access memory (RAM), which operates with much higher speeds than standard hardware storage. Its basic use is to recall small amounts of application or web information that may be useful when a user returns to a location they’ve already visited.
Caching uses caches to store data in memory so it can be accessed easily later on. In the event of network downtime, a slow connection or a traffic spike, users can still use cached content. Caching is the principle way popular social media sites can handle large network surges. With increased or improved caching, your business may be able to facilitate uptime when your network is under stress.
7. Performance Testing
Great network performance requires thorough attention to your network’s efficiency from every angle. Throughput, bandwidth and other metrics can all impact how well your network is running. Website monitoring tools usually have numerous features to help you track these metrics, including:
- Domain lookup times
- Uptime rates
- Individual page element load times
- Redirection times
- First byte download times
- Connection times
Perhaps the greatest benefit of network monitoring is its nonstop service. This level of surveillance keeps you in the loop with your network without the need for constant attention. Most application performance monitoring (APM) software can even give you a root cause of a problem, saving you the trouble and ultimately expediting the troubleshooting process.
8. Redundancy Building
Redundancy refers to any backup schemes that are in place in case of a network failure. This can occur in several ways:
- Providers can use alternative network paths or replacement equipment to build a redundant system.
- Businesses may stock extra switches and routers to swap out a failing unit quickly and diminish its effects.
- Businesses may program network protocols to switch paths when an initial path has failed.
- Businesses may connect subnets to multiple routers within a network. These routers can update one another on the best path for a signal.
- Businesses may use two cables to make a connection. If one cable is disconnected, traffic can continue flowing through the other.
Wide access networks (WAN) were once the norm for network connections. But the rise of cloud computing has made experts question their reliability. Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) offers another means of network redundancy. SD-WAN has the capacity to migrate network traffic to the internet once traditional systems have failed.
9. Emerging Technologies
HTML5 is an emerging software that improves upon HTML, the code that describes the layout of webpages. HTML5 can manage text, video and graphics without the need for any extra plugins. On its own, HTML only employs text function. Effective programming with HTML5 can lead to better network performance.
Managed IT services can also be considered an emerging technology. These services are one way to implement the above tips easily and effectively. Worldwide Services offers an array of solutions for your network needs, including:
- Professional consulting and project management to secure your network
- Repairs that extend asset recovery programs
- Assistance planning, designing, building and operating your network
Work With a Network Maintenance Expert
Every business has network uptime needs that impact the welfare of their clients and their company. A reliable network can play a pivotal role in satisfying customers, improving productivity, increasing revenues and driving overall savings.
Maintaining your network should be a top priority for your business. Curtailing network failure begins at the hardware level. Worldwide Services can provide the third-party maintenance you need at lower costs with an increased return on investment. NetGuard, our around-the-clock technical assistance, keeps your best interests in mind, including saving money and increasing network availability. Contact us to get started today.