How well do you know your network?

Editors Note - Although written by our friends at Axxys Technologies, this fits very closely with the experiences that The Computing Center engineers see every day.

New client engagements are an exciting venture as they pose new challenges that our team is always ready to take on. Over the many years we have been serving the business community there continues to be a common theme among companies that view IT as nothing more than a necessary toolset for accomplishing various business tasks; a lack of technology records and maintenance. Here are a few of the first items we look at when assessing the use of IT within any business: documentation, data/server room, and age of computers.

Documentation
Do you have access to a basic network diagram of your infrastructure?
Do you a diagram of all the equipment and their role in the server room/data closet?
Who maintains administrative passwords and are there multiple sources with this information?

When performing an initial assessment this basic information about the network is necessary, but if it is not readily available it can take up to 2 - 3 hours to get familiar with the network before any solid change recommendations can be made. Making a change to the network, or applications, without proper documentation is taking quite a risk. This is a really simple piece of the IT puzzle and if you don’t have proper documentation then STRESS to your IT partner, or administrator, to provide it for you to have on file. Once you have it, it should be reviewed and updated at least once a quarter.

Data Closet/Server Room Conditions
How does your data closet/server room appear?
Is equipment properly labeled? Is the room clear of clutter?
How well is the room ventilated?

This room should be a show piece for businesses. In most cases the investments companies are making should make this room something to be proud of. It is the "engine" of your business and should be taken care of as such. Data storage systems, servers and network appliances are always running and they create heat that needs to be displaced to protect the functionality and life of the network. Show your infrastructure off to your clients. While they may not understand what is "under the hood" they will respect your business for how you protect your investments.

Age of Desktops/Laptops
What is your system refresh policy?
Is it based on age, job function, or machine life?

We see this all over the map at our new clients but the majority of businesses refresh desktops/laptops within 3 -4 years for most users. The thing to keep in mind is that while the system may seem to run fine they do degrade in performance over the years. Basic PC users are running applications/web browsing several hours a day 5 days a week. We suggest: have your management team poll your end users from time-to-time on how long it takes to accomplish their basic tasks. Most users simply get used to things taking more "time" than is needed because their system’s performance has just slowly degrades over time. Also, older systems tend to take more maintenance, which over time a 3 - 4 year old machine will start to become a cost center as support is needed to maintain that machine and keep it running as optimally as possible.

While these are just a few items we review and discuss with new and current clients, we are dedicated to helping you protect your IT investment, provide timely and efficient support, and making recommendations that provide timely ROI. In a lot of cases businesses are only as good as the investments they use to get the job done. Make sure you are assessing and ensuring that your “investments” are allowing your business to operate at an optimal level. Contact us for an assessment today

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