Keeping a network up and running is no easy feat. It usually includes a number of tasks that help ensure that your IT network is being properly maintained and protected against a myriad of potential problems. The scale with which networks are maintained depends on how rapidly your business grows and expands. As you grow, your network becomes increasingly complex. But first, let’s go back to the basics.
What is a network?
Put simply, a network is a group of two or more connected devices or computer systems that work with each other. Think of a network as a collection of computers, servers, and other devices connected to one another to allow the sharing of data. Networks can be managed by your in-house IT team or a third-party managed network provider.
When you hire a managed IT services provider, they should be able to set up a managed network for your business. But what exactly is a “managed network?”
A managed network is a type of communication network managed by your third-party IT service provider which works to oversee your company’s network needs. Your IT service provider is responsible for building, operating, securing, and maintaining your network.
One great thing about managed network services is that network solutions are usually delivered through a cloud infrastructure service. This means that your network can be managed anywhere, anytime as long as you have a reliable internet connection.
Networks are most commonly used for:
- File sharing
- Communications such as email and instant messaging platforms
- Data and resource sharing
- Remote accessibility
Note, however, that not all network solutions are the same. For instance, computer networking for your company may not be the same as a company with more than 10,000 employees. Advancements in technology have brought with it a range of new gadgets, software programs, and connection platforms that require an advanced framework. In a constantly-innovating world, a holistic network maintenance plan has become a necessity.
What is a network maintenance plan?
A network maintenance plan ensures that all the critical aspects of your network are monitored for potential problems on a day-to-day basis. A sound maintenance plan should be able to anticipate problems before they come and put in place the necessary measures to deal with them. This ensures business continuity and reduces the instances of downtime.
A proper network maintenance plan involves tasks such as:
Hardware and Software Installation
Network maintenance plans involve hardware and software installation to make sure that the devices and the programs you have are ready to be used.
Upgrades and Configurations
Your managed network provider should be able to schedule software and hardware configuration and upgrades. This ensures that both your software and hardware are in tip-top shape and strengthens your overall network security.
Network security is the protection of data across your network. This involves the use of credentials for every employee, every vendor, every client, and everyone else that your company works with. Network security’s main function is to keep your networks running. Your managed network provider should also be able to protect your network from natural disasters, power failures, and malicious cyber attacks.
Nowadays, data is king. A managed network provider should be able to create and store backups of your data on a regular basis. Loss of data can be disruptive to a business’ workflow, making sure that your data is safe and secure ensures that your business is always up and running.
Often overlooked as an unimportant part of network maintenance, it is important to understand that documentation is significant to have a better understanding of your overall network. Documentation keeps you on track and helps you understand your network maintenance plan’s main objective.
Does your business need a network maintenance plan?
Here are some of the benefits of having a network maintenance plan:
Enhanced Productivity and Reliability
A well-devised network maintenance plan will ensure that all the critical aspects of your network are monitored. Proactive support should also be readily available in case problems arise. A network maintenance plan, like any other IT function, increases your business’ reliability and ensures peace of mind.
Poorly maintained networks usually get compromised on many security features making them more vulnerable to virus and Trojan attack as well as remote hacking whenever the network is connected to the internet. However, a network monitoring and maintenance plan ensures that both the performance and security of the network are constantly under watch. The last thing you want from your business is bad publicity and the lawsuits that come with a compromised business network system.
Having computers in a network is usually enough to get each unit communicating with one another. However, data is constantly in transit whenever users access resources in other computers, depending on your network’s layout and the number of actively working computers, the time it takes to retrieve data may vary. A well-maintained network ensures that your connectivity is optimized thus making it easy for your employees and customers to access data and other resources without too much waiting.
As with any other system, network solutions are in place to protect you in case of unprecedented attacks. However, no network maintenance plan will foresee everything that could go wrong - there will be downtime or even breakdowns that could disrupt your normal business operations.
Fortunately, managed network services are becoming an adequate, if not a better, alternative for professional and reliable network solutions.