How to Make the Invisible Visible: An Automated Answer for Network Transparency
Let’s face it. Danger lurks inside every enterprise network, and when it hits, addressing the crisis with manual processes that are inefficient and error-prone can take days – or even weeks – to resolve. If you’ve ever been in a situation like this, minutes can seem like hours. You’re aware that not only is fast problem resolution critical, but that the displaced effort and incremental time incurred by you or your staff in resolving the issue is detrimental as well. Crisis preparation can help. But fire drills often don’t compare to the real thing. To avoid constantly reacting to problems, many enterprises are harnessing automation to gain greater visibility into their network infrastructure to proactively manage and defeat danger before it occurs.
What you don’t know can hurt you
Troubleshooting what ails your network requires you to take inventory of your installed base of devices and determine where the issue(s) may lie. Combing through all your cards and chassis is difficult, especially when your only resource may be a spreadsheet of device inventory data created months ago that is likely both out of date and incomplete. How can you be certain of the proper location of the device? And when you do find the problem device, do you have access to a history of problems with the device, critical device specs and knowledge of its service coverage status?
In speaking with our customers, I’ve found that many are putting manual processes behind them and automating their infrastructure operations. It is part of an accelerating trend toward digitizing business processes. Automating network device lifecycle management can give you the confidence to make the right decisions about sustaining business continuity at the right time and in the right way. Why take a chance on putting your network at risk when there are proactive solutions to help you avoid it?
Network conditions are highly dynamic. Inaccurate data or the lack of good analytics can have serious business consequences. That’s why it is imperative to be able to easily discover complete device data whenever and wherever you choose on your network. But valuable data is worth even more when it is coupled with analytic tools that can sift problems and opportunities in real-time – either at the network’s edge or at the core — so you can take proactive steps if needed. A truly dynamic network demands both dynamic discovery and dynamic analysis.
Automation makes a small team’s performance large in execution
Pella Corporation, a Cisco customer and a premier manufacturer of windows and doors for residential and commercial uses, has built a reputation as an industry innovator. They not only apply continuous improvement in their product development but also in their operations – most notably, network management.
With over 1,000 devices in their network, Pella was challenged by a lack of visibility into device vulnerability and support, a lengthy contract renewal process and lean IT staff resources to manage their network inventory. In addition to managing their own corporate network, the staff was also responsible for network services for many of the company’s independent dealerships. The size and complexity of Pella network operations required a system to supplement their limited IT staff – and a system that offered automated access to true installed base device lifecycle management, especially network equipment pertaining to security. In short, they needed a complete network inventory management and support system that allowed their IT team to operate small – but, most importantly, act big. Automating their operations made it possible. Four signposts guided their pathway forward.
1. Single Source Access
A platform that unifies asset data into one easy-to-access, secure dashboard and set of categories for detailed discovery of network units and their details
2. Dynamic Intelligence
With algorithms that detect and identify the “truth” of each asset’s location and status, companies get fast and accurate feedback of where their inventory currently resides.
3. Automated Information Delivery
Information, such as system updates, support contracts requiring renewal and level of service coverage are revealed for view, modification, and download.
4. Connected Support for Alerts and Escalations
Notifications and alerts for specific devices are immediately communicated, which makes it easier for the IT team to assess vulnerabilities, take corrective action and escalate immediately when necessary.
Since adopting automation made possible by Cisco Smart Net Total Care to manage their network assets, Pella has reduced network risk, gained instant visibility into the precise details of their inventory, and allowed IT to improve their service delivery. As the Pella IT Manager for Infrastructure Projects and Architectures expresses it, “Smart Net Total Care is a lifesaver when it comes to managing the lifecycle of our network devices.”
Are you Ready?
In the era of the Internet of Everything, it’s vital that companies prepare to leverage the opportunities that lie ahead. As network infrastructures scale to meet IoE possibilities, operational change and complexity will increase exponentially. How do you plan to evolve your network? Are there manual IT processes that you hope to eliminate? What are your plans to simplify your IT operations management?