Many business owners underestimate the impact network performance and reliability have on productivity within their organizations. But like it or not, your business relies on its infrastructure to get things done. Take a look at what a network review involves and learn why every business, regardless of size, should integrate it into its preventative maintenance schedule.
What components make up a network?
Your network devices typically include switches, routers, firewalls, and wireless access points that provide interconnectivity to your PCs, tablets, smartphones, printers, and other end-user peripherals. This infrastructure serves as the foundation to allow your employees to share, collaborate, and work efficiently.
What does a network review include:
A network assessment provides visibility and insight into your technical environment and can be used to develop strategies to optimize performance and reliability, to uncover and remediate potential threats, and to plan for the future. Below is some important information a network assessment can provide your business:
- Asset Overview
An asset overview is a comprehensive list of all of your networked devices by make/model and IP address. It allows you to identify suspicious activity on your network and unauthorized devices inside your firewall (commonly found in organizations that don’t have policies regarding what devices employees bring into the environment). It can also detect obsolete devices, upgrades, etc.
- License Key Inventory
In addition to managing the hardware on your network, it is important to know what software you’re running as well. An inventory of your license keys will reveal if your business is using expired or unlicensed software. This information is used to verify compliance in case of an audit or a security breach. It is also used to develop end-user policies by highlighting non work-related software in the environment.
- Patch Status
Relying on your employees to perform their own software updates and application patches is risky. Many people postpone prompts or ignore them altogether. This creates a security and compliance vulnerability that can have a major impact on your business. The patch status report will highlight any failed or missing patches so you can ensure your software is current and secure.
- Antivirus Assessment
If you spend any time on the Internet, chances are you’ve encountered at least one virus or malicious application. These intrusions can result in a loss of data, impaired functionality, and costly downtime. The antivirus assessment will identify which anti-virus programs are running on which workstations and if they are up-to-date.
- Capacity Planning
If your business is experiencing slow network performance, you could be running low on bandwidth. The capacity planning tool measures your current bandwidth usage. Establishing a baseline will help you identify bottlenecks, understand when capacity is needed, and learn how to avoid depletion. Capacity usage is important to evaluate if your business anticipates growth that might result in increased traffic (such as hiring new employees or opening new locations).
- Backup/Disaster Recovery
Many business owners do not have a solid backup/disaster recovery plan in place. And of those that do, very few people test their plan to see how it will actually affect business continuity in the event of loss, theft, or natural disaster. An analyst can evaluate the effectiveness of your backup procedures and disaster recovery plan and give you suggestions on what you can improve based on best business practices.
- Summary & Recommendations
A network assessment includes a summary of findings. It provides an overview of your network, your current challenges, and your future objectives to demonstrate that the analyst understands your business case. It highlights issues/concerns found during the assessment and recommendations on how you can address each one. Finally, it identifies any limitations of the assessment as a result of network configurations, limited user access, etc.
Annual reviews are critical for uncovering and remediating issues/concerns within your network environment. Integrating them as part of your preventative maintenance routine will ensure your network health.