Using infrastructure to improve network reliability

As networks continues to increase in size and complexity, especially in smart buildings, the percentage of companies experiencing at least one outage per year will likely continue to rise. The question then becomes: what can network operators do to minimize the risk of downtime? In this blog, Jason Reasor answers that question and provide you with four recommendations to reduce network downtime.

19_smart_building_network_reliabilityThere’s an old adage that says you never realize how much something means to you until you are forced to go without it for a while. Then again, whoever came up with that one most definitely never worked in IT. We’re keenly aware of the value of our network—research companies like Gartner and the Ponemon Institute remind us of it annually.

CLICK TO TWEET: CommScope's Jason Reasor explains how a resilient, redundant, intelligent physical layer can help prevent and minimize network downtime’s negative impacts in your smart building.

According to the latest statistics, every minute of unplanned downtime costs anywhere from $5,600 to $9,000 per minute—over $100,000 an hour. But that is just the cost of the expected lost revenues. Factor in the indirect impact, such as loss of customer confidence, employee churn and the impact on stock prices, and the true costs are much higher.

Enterprise outages on the rise

Another statistic that should be even more worrisome for anyone in network management relates to the volume of reported outages. A 2018 survey by Data Center Knowledge showed that the rate of outages is rising sharply. In 2017, 25 percent of respondents reported experiencing at least one outage during the year. In 2018, that figure had increased to 31 percent—about a 25 percent jump. The statistic is important because it begs the question: why?

One potential answer is the expanding scope and complexity of the enterprise network. The role of the network has grown well beyond supporting basic desktop applications. Today, it is an integral part of virtually every function in every department. And it’s not just maturing; it’s physically expanding as more and more devices, IoT sensors, and systems are pushed out to the manufacturing floor, distribution hubs and service centers.

Improving reliability in smart buildings

This growth is reflective in the rise of the smart building, which is still in its infancy. As the network continues to increase in size and complexity, the percentage of companies experiencing at least one outage per year will likely continue to rise, as will the per-minute cost of downtime. The question then becomes: what can network operators do to minimize the risk of downtime?

This is where we find some good news, for a change. There are a number of common-sense changes network managers can implement that can significantly lower the risk of a service interruption. The following are recommendations CommScope often makes to our customers:

  • Unifying the various discrete networks onto on a single converged, PoE-enabled structured cabling platform typically provides a readily-available UPS backup.
  • Deploying automated infrastructure management (AIM) enables you to monitor the physical layer and receive real-time updates as the connectivity information changes.
  • Having a strategy that supports non-disruptive scaling and migration allows you to expand and upgrade to higher speeds with little or no disruption of service.
  • Providing ubiquitous mobile support for Wi-Fi, 3G/LTE/5G, and multi-operator networks will enable IT teams to expedite repairs and moves/adds/changes.

CommScope has developed a brief video that illustrates how these capabilities can be added to a new or existing network. It’s worth watching—check it out.

A final thought

While it’s those epic complete network failures that make the news, the real damage is done by the smaller daily issues that consume the IT department’s time and resources and eat away at productivity and profits. For example: the wireless network goes down; a bad server connection knocks the CRM off line; or a power interruption disrupts the security access system, locking employees out of their offices.

A resilient infrastructure can help you minimize—or, in some cases, eliminate—these time-sucking, productivity-destroying incidents, giving you more time to focus on the big issues. Think about it.

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