Successfully managing your technology is just like any other aspect of your business – it depends on you always knowing where you are and what you have.
Organizations will always benefit from embracing standardization and having consistency in their operations. This starts with getting a snapshot of today.
Our network monitoring platform works 24 x 7 gathering the details of a typical business network. While it alerts, aggregates event logs and reviews performance counters, it also summarizes data about the network for documentation. We can create a list of assets, identify IP addresses in use, see what the devices are named and facilitate other common network management activities.
We reference the data to create logical network maps that show the relation between all firewalls, switches, servers and other “interesting” systems on the network.
Visual representations tend to make it easier to protect and improve upon the design of your network infrastructure. It also makes it easier for our help desk and support team to troubleshoot network issues.
We think of your network infrastructure like the foundation of your house, if it’s not well-designed, solid and stable, nothing else inside will be. In the same way the safety of you, your family and all your stuff relies on the foundation of the home, so does the availability, performance and security of business depend on the network infrastructure.
With that in mind, your applications are like the more important rooms of your house. You can find the bathroom in any home, but life is better if you know exactly where it is when you need it. What are all your applications? What are your key applications and what versions are you running? Who is using them? Who doesn’t have access to them?
Technology is just a tool – like a forklift, a shovel, medical device or calculator. We gather this information using our tools. By having the right tool at the right time, you will be able to get a lot more work done. As your IT advisors, we start with a snapshot of today, create a vision of success for a year from now and then try to build a roadmap of the steps to get us there, technologically speaking.
It seems like a small item but putting like-users on the same application standards can help ensure that the best tools get used by the right people, and also protects against common problems, like using different versions. When we add new devices to your network we follow naming standards for the device to enhance our abilities to manage and monitor it. We also tend to assign IP addressing standards to a group of like-devices in the same ranges. This is to more easily manage and monitor them. This structured approach ends up delivering a more predictable computer networking experience.
Once you have an idea of what your assets and applications are, you want to map that to your groups of users. A typical 50 employee company usually has 4 to 6 distinct user classes. Of course, if you have fewer user classes, IT life is probably better. A user class is a group of users who have like-needs and therefore needs like-tools. If you can group your users, it makes it easier to ensure that every new employee has the right tools to get his/her job done. When we’ve done user surveys we find issues such as:
• a key administrative person didn’t have a PDF writer and so had to copy files to a USB drive and take it to someone else’s computer to make a PDF
• a manager and his admin person both had Microsoft Office installed but the different versions caused periodic document issues
• one physician benefits greatly from an application like Dragon NaturallySpeaking, but the other doctors are unaware and manually type information
Identify these opportunities to improve and you will get much more bang for your buck by simply being more strategic and knowing what you should have. Not only is this a great idea for general networking but also a best practice when embracing network security for your environment.
The best thing about having so much information about your network is the ease in which you can create system documentation, which aids you in current and future decisions.
Knowing the age of your servers and workstations helps you plan out your technology refresh cycle. Knowing the operating system helps you make sure you can replace older platforms and stay compliant with your security needs. Knowing who is currently logged on to a system can help you protect yourself when security issues arise. And knowing if a PC is missing important software, like an antivirus client or line of business application, helps you to make it right.
This system documentation is a snapshot at a point of time that includes passwords, configuration information and various other useful network management and security bits of information.
Use these tips to create your first system documentation. Save your future.
This whitepaper helps share an exercise to help organizations create their core values by using its greatest asset, it's people. Check out how the Fulcrum Group went through hours and what our core values are.