- With today’s modern professional so dependent on remotely located files and real-time, Web-based applications (sales force, Web portals, etc.), downtime is painful.
- Device failures, misconfiguration issues, congestion, and interference all make the job of the IT infrastructure specialist more complex as dependence on the infrastructure increases daily.
On a recent trip, while I sat waited for my flight to depart (the airport shall remain nameless), I hopped on the wireless network, connected via VPN, and started to download some material from the company intranet. About 50% into a large file download, the network link was lost, dropping the VPN, and of course stopping the file transfer. The signal strength was good; since I was short on time, I did not break out the wireless troubleshooting tools to see how much additional noise was in the area that may have interfered. Instead, I pulled out my phone, tethered via strong 4G (yes, I’m lucky), and grabbed the file in a minute. However, I could see that several others in the immediate area had issues with the WLAN and were growing frustrated. It struck me how dependent we are on having convenient access to remain productive in these moments of lull time (unless you can get through an airport in 15 minutes consistently, you know what I’m referring to). Unfortunately, public area WLANs are not yet universally enterprise-grade and a solid connection is not a given. I had grown accustomed to being able to connect in the airport and assumed it would be working as usual. We have this same assumption in our enterprise environments; why not in the highly trafficked areas?
While it was not clear what caused the issue in the airport, we have all experienced similar situations in our workplace. There is less tolerance for outages due to the increased dependence and number of pervasive ‘online’ applications. This requires more diligence on IT’s part, both in the design of the network and on the operational side. Robust design and operation require redundant gateways, redundant wireless controllers, resilient cores, and an always-on web farm where the critical apps are hosted or accessed. Furthermore, this has to be achieved without causing significant budget increases. Sure, this is difficult, but it’s also possible. Leveraging the best practices of existing resilient and high-availability designs and doing one’s homework will surely reduce the outages and ultimately make the entire environment more efficient. While IT may remain an anonymous or unsung hero, those of us who reflect on the fact that they cannot recall an outage should pause and thank our IT staff for doing their homework and choosing well when it comes to suppliers and architecture.