How Can You Improve Your IT Network Performance?

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Since IT equipment and systems often form the backbone of modern businesses, it makes sense to ensure they’re performing to a world-class standard. The trouble is, not all of us are IT engineers or specialists – so options around speed and reliability might not be immediately obvious. 

So, what do you do when you need to make sure you’re getting the most from your IT network? Here, we’ll walk you through some possibilities that’ll ensure you’re working to your maximum potential. 

Integrating An SD WAN Solution 

SD WAN is something of a revelation when it comes to cloud-computing and, indeed, remote management of complex IT networks. While managed service providers (MSP) are not a new concept, they’ve tended to always be an IT team that’s based somewhere else – whether that’s within your building – or at the other side of your city. Generally speaking, you wouldn’t have wanted to employ the services of an MSP based too far away – since getting hands on with your network is often a requirement of both configuration and on-going maintenance. With SD WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Networking) – you’ve got a management portal attached to a network overlay that can control virtually any element of your network – even the parts that have traditionally needed an engineer to be pushing buttons and plugging in ethernet cables. 

While SD WAN itself won’t give you a speed boost (although it does allow for some control of networking priorities) – it unlocks the possibility that an engineer can be involved with your network at all times – monitoring issues and making sure you’re getting the best speeds all the time. When it comes to speed, staying on top of the daily issues that can crop up in an IT network is absolutely key – so an SD WAN system allows for this – without the enormous cost that’s normally associated with having a 24/7 in-house IT team who makes she things are moving swiftly at all times. 

Embracing MPLS 

An MPLS system is often talked about in the same breath as the connections that link your network to the internet – but, in actual fact, it’s not a connection – instead, it’s a way of optimising your connection, by making sure all the data that crosses your network is moving according to a series of priorities that are decided according to your specific business needs. 

MPLS stands for Multi-Protocol Label Switching. An MPLS system, capable of handling information from a massive range of devices and applications, labels data that’s handled by your network – then uses an ‘LSR’ (Label Switch Router) to direct that traffic according to your requirements. 

Traditionally, a network is best understood as a single ‘freeway’ that carries all your business data en masse – mixing the different types of data, offering no priority to any specific type, application or service. With an MPLS system, traffic is routed intelligently and dynamically, making sure that the most important data is delivered through the most efficient routes – and as quickly as possible. 

If your network carries different types of data – from different applications – and relies on some of those applications to deliver your core business services, then having an MPLS system that ensures your most important and mission-critical data is given priority is a really good idea. Downtime is shown to cost businesses a small fortune – and, often, that cost is enough to permanently shut the doors for new and small businesses that can’t take a dent in their cashflow. A well-configured MPLS system will keep your doors open – even if it’s only your core systems that continue to run. 

Of course, boosting the speed of your applications isn’t just important from a business- survival point of view. When it comes to delivering an exceptional end-user experience (and therefore, an exceptional customer experience) there’s little to beat an MPLS system. Efficient customer service doesn’t just reflect well on your business either – it actually frees up significant portions of time, ensuring you get the absolutely most and best from your team members. 

As if increased customer service efficiency and improved uptime isn’t enough, an MPLS system is also likely to save significant maintenance time too. By mapping out efficient ways to deliver data, you’re effectively simplifying your network – always a positive when it comes to the amount of fault-finding work that an engineer will need to do. 

An MPLS system is unlikely to be the cheapest way to make sure your network is lightning fast – but, when you line up the costs next to the savings you’re likely to see from increased end-user efficiency and reduced downtime – it’s likely to be an option you can’t afford not to explore in more detail. 

Doing Away With Network Latency 

Latency is the measure that’s put on any delay occurring across your network. In much the same way that physical information can be delayed when it’s sent between locations, the data packets that make up digital data transmissions can too. 

There is no such thing as an instantaneous delivery of data – whether that’s to a computer on the next desk – or to a device on the other side of the planet. Even fibre optic cables are restrained by the speed of light – so it is normal to get a fraction of a delay when your sending anything – generally based on the fact that information will be relayed by a satellite. 

The delays that can be avoided are those that relate to bandwidth and throughput on your network though. Often, there are choke points that constrain data – sometimes at a router, firewall or other networking device. When data backs up at these choke points, the system recognises what is happening and drops packets of data, in an effort to get things moving again. The only trouble is, some applications are sensitive to dropped data – and the service will suffer – or sometimes fail completely. 

The installation and configuration processes involved with both SD WAN and MPLS systems will identify these issues and remedy them – but even if you’re not looking at installing costly data and systems management infrastructure, a good managed network provider will be able to help you identify what these problems are – and hopefully get everything back to smooth sailing again…

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