In the networking world, nothing stays the same for long. Technologies evolve, software evolves, best practices evolve, even IT teams evolve. For this reason, many companies struggle to maintain a full knowledge of their IT systems. Documentation is often incomplete or out of date and system performance and productivity may be suffering as a result. The good news is the situation is recoverable. An IT audit can identify all of your equipment, serial numbers, software versions, rack layouts and cabling configurations so you know exactly what you are dealing with.
A full network health check takes this one step further, allowing an engineer, with expertise in all the latest best practices, to assess what’s been done and why, before making recommendations for improvement.
Some businesses may write this off as an unnecessary expense. Particularly if they have yet to identify a specific problem within their system. This is a mistake. Not all vulnerabilities are immediately visible. Some software bugs may only become apparent when trying to deploy a new solution down the line. At which point they could cause a much more serious problem.
Furthermore, unacknowledged system slowness could be costing your business a significant amount in lost productivity. One firm of solicitors saved over £100,000 in billable hours, just by making their systems faster. That’s a pretty hefty addition to the bottom line by anyone’s standards.
With this in mind, there are five main issues a network health check can address:
1. Problem resolution
Where a business is experiencing a known problem within their network, a more focused IT audit and health check can be used to investigate and troubleshoot the issue. Information on the problem in question may vary in detail. So an engineer would need to begin by assessing the information provided and targeting an area of the network accordingly to locate the cause of the problem.
While your network may perform smoothly and efficiently when first deployed, this may not be the case 12 months down the line. What’s more, you may not even be aware of the problem. Users can become accustomed to regular slowness or downtime, particularly while carrying out certain processes, and may not even think to report the problem.
Whilst staff may have learnt to deal with these problems, we have already established the loss of productivity could cost your company thousands.
Additionally, if a user knows a particular server will be slow, they may opt to store files locally, on a USB drive or similar, overriding protocol in the interests of efficiency, which could result in a security breech.
An engineer carrying out an IT audit and network health check will always be sure to include the users in any investigations, identifying any inefficiencies which may point to a network problem.
3. Identification of outdated equipment or software
Technology and software versions change significantly over time, as do the attack profiles of cyber criminals who target your network. Software companies release patches to plug security vulnerabilities or bugs that have been discovered since a software release. But businesses who don’t keep on top of such updates are likely to run into difficulty.
An IT audit ensures your equipment, software and documentation is up to date. Cross referencing the software versions you’re running against the latest security threats to identify any vulnerabilities.
Furthermore, an engineer can check for open ports that may allow an attacker to gain access to your network. If a device was configured by a former employee, it may not be clear what’s been left open. And therefore where your business is vulnerable.
4. Preparing network for advancement
New solutions such as virtualisation and SDN seemingly override the network beneath them but the reality is the network still forms an important foundation. If the network is not correctly configured, it will simply not withstand the demands placed upon it.
An IT health check can serve as a review of your infrastructure to ensure it is built to cope with the requirements of any new technology. An engineer can will identify any future technical objectives and advise on any areas of weakness in your current system.
This equally applies to other service functions such as voice. A company looking to roll out voice services will need to establish whether the network been set up to deliver the voice quality required.
5. Usage audit
Finally, an IT audit can review actual equipment usage. It is not uncommon to find companies attributing valuable space to equipment they don’t actually use. Or worse, purchasing new equipment where existing kit could easily be redeployed.
Contrary to what many might perceive, this problem actually comes compounded further in the virtualised world. VMs are so easily spun up, yet their lack of physical presence makes them harder to keep track of. Unused VMs could easily be taking up unnecessary resources in your system. And be affecting the performance of your network as a whole.
It is also important to remember that every server, whether physical or virtual, needs a software licence. It is all too easy to overlook this issue in the virtualised world where a VM, licence included, can simply be copied form another virtual instance. This is, however, an illegal practice. So an audit to match the licences required to those already owned becomes an important process to ensure there are no discrepancies.
Save money with an IT audit
Once identified, many of these problems can be resolved easily. A significantly quicker and less costly process than troubleshooting a major system fault that occurs as a result of an oversight in one of these areas. Factor in the potential savings through increased productivity and an IT audit quickly becomes an investment worth making. One businesses would be unwise to overlook.