Everyone uses the highway system of digital networks – from our ubiquitous Internet service providers, cloud service providers to content delivery networks – our digital lives are empowered by an endless list of service providers using powerful networks to deliver products and services. These networks (global and local) interconnect with PoPs (Points-of-Presence) at the edge and share the networking assets available in data centers and across the global networks. Needless to say, the humungous amount of traffic on these networks need to stay decongested and flowing at peak speeds to ensure fast delivery of business operations, products and services.
Gartner estimates that downtimes can cost enterprises an average of $5,600 per minute or $336,000 per hour. For small businesses, an Internet downtime can cost from $8,000 to $74,000 per hour, according to estimates by the Ponemon Institute. Just in case you were wondering, most small businesses witness an average of 14 hours of downtime annually. And this estimate does not take into account the opportunity, reputation and trust loss that businesses inevitably face with any instance of outage that only accumulates with the necessary time they take to recover.
What is Network Reliability?
Simply put, network reliability signifies the ability of a network to minimize the scope and frequency of network incidents, continue operations while under pressure and recover as quickly as possible.
A network reliability engineer (NRE) is someone who is well acquainted with service-level objectives, agreements, and goals of your enterprise and implements measurement and automation tools to build a network pipeline and ensure robust network reliability.
To ensure strong network setups, businesses need access to the right mix of technical expertise and broad industry experience in Managed IT Services or employ NREs in-house. While it may seem like an added expense, building on a foundation of strong network architecture can offer multiple benefits in the long run, the chief of which is maximum uptime, which can make or break your organization’s ability to remain consistently productive, innovative, and competitive.
Basic design principles of a robust network architecture
Incorporate redundant topology
Hardware and software failure domains must always be designed to include redundancy. This takes care of instances of simultaneous failures and also helps eradicate single points of failure. The NRE must understand service level objectives well enough to ensure network capacity during traffic spikes or crisis situations.
Include safety protocols for changes
Networks are vast architectures and as such, change is a constant element in its topology. What are not as obvious are the vast repercussions even minor changes can have on the network. This is why it’s critical to include safety protocols, such as, safe deployment practices, automatic rollbacks, breaks between deployment phases, and minimize or eliminate manual intervention.
Autopilot software systems for network management
Physical infrastructure will always be susceptible to unpredictable crisis such as hardware failure, interruptions due to extreme weather events, sabotage and more. Ensure that your software provides you with real-time information on topology, demands, traffic, network performance, and is capable of automatic recovery from incidents.
Implement feedback loops and AI
Continuous improvement through performance monitoring should be built into your network to improve reliability. RCA (Root Cause Analysis) of incidents forms a critical part of this process, as does telemetry data and can enable to quickly triage and analyze for better results in the future. Incorporating AI and ML into this process can make the process much more robust, efficient and faster.
The importance of a reliable network structure
Your network quite literally forms the digital backbone of your business operations, connecting every part of the process from product development, business management to service delivery and more. You need to design a network that can streamline your business processes and improve efficiencies across operations and service channels.
With optimum network performance, it also becomes easier for you to spot areas in your business environment that need improvement. For instance, if your employees are streaming too many videos, your network should be able to notify you of that.
Optimum network performance has never been of greater importance than in the COVID era of remote work and anywhere operations. You need a strong network to enable team collaborations globally and to deliver operations and services remotely.
What are the criteria to check the network reliability?
Fortunately, the strength of a network is actually fairly easy to determine. There are really two primary criteria for testing for network reliability.
- Downtime: How much time does your network to recover from incidents? How does it graph over time?
- Failure Frequency: This is the frequency with which your network fails to act or respond the way it is designed to. Higher failure frequencies should obviously be a cause for concern. Consider reaching out to an IT Support Company in the USA with relevant technical expertise if you do not have the right support available on hand.
What's the difference between network reliability and availability?
Simply put, network reliability highlights your network’s ability to run the infrastructure and support core processes whereas network availability just provides a measure of infrastructure accessibility. Reactive and proactive monitoring tools can help you take a stock of the availability and reliability of your network on a regular basis as well as help you troubleshoot and sketch out a path for optimal performance.
The benefits of a well-designed and maintained network far outweigh maintenance, management and monitoring costs. Please keep in mind that this is one area of your business infrastructure where any disruption can immediately result in major disruptions. It pays to be extra careful with network monitoring and changes in the long run with consistent operations and services. Moreover, as cyber crimes targeted at businesses register a huge spike in recent months and criminals are developing highly sophisticated malware and scams – a robust network is your first line of defense against unauthorized access and data breaches.
If your network needs upgrading or maintenance or you want to build a more robust network from scratch, consider reaching out to reputed IT support companies in USA with relevant expertise. Make sure to select providers who are known for designing and maintaining industry-leading examples in network reliability.