Dodging Downtime! Five Best Practices for Communications Network Reliability

It’s the kind of scenario that keeps IT administrators up at night: the latest in a string of network failures plaguing airlines, Southwest Airlines recently experienced an outage that resulted in costs of five-to-10 million dollars, according to news reports.

The cause? A single malfunctioning router.

Facing a complicated labyrinth of equipment of varying ages, vendors and health, it’s a perennial challenge for those managing today’s business communications networks—identifying potential problems before disaster strikes. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the risk so network admins can sleep at night.

Best practice #1: Monitor for insight

End-to-end network monitoring not only gives you peace of mind, it provides insight into the health of the devices on your network. Seeing increasing CPU or disk usage? There could be bandwidth congestion as a result of a failing device. On a Mitel network, often what presents as a voice quality problem is in fact caused by a failing or misconfigured router or switch. By dealing with the failing equipment, you’ll prevent a voice quality problem that leads to a poor user experience.

Best practice #2: Proactive service quality for faster problem resolution

A poorly performing device is like the needle in a haystack—tricky to find. In a reactive service model, the search for a culprit begins with a voice quality problem that prompts a support call.

The proactive model that’s become increasingly adopted by channel partners uses performance monitoring software to identify problem devices before the user experiences a voice quality problem.

In either case, without the right tools, network admins can spin their wheels for months trying to find the problem. Testing tools like Ping, Traceroute, iftop, DNS and MTR that launch directly from the bad call in a monitoring system’s dashboard can diagnose on a hop by hop basis, shedding light quickly on where the breakdown occurred.

Best practice #3: Use monitoring systems designed for business communications

Networks are not created equal, and business communications networks have quirks that ‘out of the box’ network management system aren’t designed to understand. When your network management software specializes in unified communications, it can give you valuable insight into how events on your network impact voice communications. Mitel Performance Analytics is the software designed specifically for the management of Mitel solutions.

Best practice #4: Go deeper with analytics

The ‘big data’ generated by your network can tell you a lot about its health and performance. Usage data can tell you in advance when it’s time to expand your network or add new licenses, and alarm analytics can bring you to the most important issues on your network faster, so that you can plan effectively and make better business decisions. This 2 minute video explains how Mitel users and channel partners can turn their network performance data into a business asset.

Best practice #5: Prevent an aging infrastructure with software updates

The recent outages plaguing airlines have been blamed on an aging infrastructure that hasn’t been updated to keep pace with newer technologies. Software assurance can be a cost-effective way to deploy the latest and greatest updates, which protects against not only obsolescence, but security vulnerabilities and interoperability problems.

Mitel customers can take advantage of both software updates and Mitel Performance Analytics (MPA) by purchasing Premium Software Assurance. MPA is our network performance management solution designed specifically for Mitel networks—giving you the best picture of your communications network.

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