Improving your company’s network performance can be as easy as making a few simple adjustments — if you know what you’re doing, that is.
In the early days of the corporate internet, network performance was a relatively black and white issue. A small, tightly regulated LAN either functioned or it didn’t, and in the event of a service breakdown, the cause was nearly always an easily remediable problem like a crashed server or a disconnected network cable.
This, of course, is no longer the reality in which we live. In today’s world, networks are far more complex, far more hybridized, and are expected to host a far more diverse range of activity. As a result, today’s IT teams have the power to tweak network performance using any number of strategic levers. Each and every aspect of a network can be reconfigured, supplemented, or replaced in the pursuit of higher performance, but determining which aspect to adjust and how isn’t always so straightforward.
As such, we’ve outlined three of our favorite simple, yet effective IT management tricks that can help companies boost their network performance without breaking the bank.
One of the biggest burdens on corporate networks is unauthorized and/or unnecessary traffic. This “junk” traffic can be caused by both unapproved software, devices or applications and inefficient utilizations of approved software.
If a company doesn’t take measures to prevent its employees from downloading bulky, inefficient software — or using SaaS versions of such programs — on their workplace devices, its network will be forced to cope with the additional bandwidth demands. Even basic software can hamper network performance when used en masse, and network administrators must make a concerted effort to prevent a network “death by a thousand cuts.”
When it comes to managing authorized software use, network administrators should consider isolating clusters of high-bandwidth processes with virtual LANs (VLANs). VLANs help IT administrators segregate network traffic and provision certain segments with more resources than others, ensuring every user experiences consistently high network performance.
Though the use of VLANs is helpful to a degree, it is impossible to segregate every single type of traffic. In order to guarantee that higher-priority packets receive a larger proportion of the bandwidth on shared network channels, administrators should consider establishing and enforcing strict service classes.
By setting class-based provisioning rules, administrators can guarantee that, for instance, traffic in the top class automatically receives 50% of available network bandwidth and the traffic in the bottom class (say, peer-to-peer file sharing) receives minimal bandwidth or is blocked altogether. Though there are many software programs that facilitate efficient class-based provisioning, basic traffic shaping can be accomplished through the proper configuration of network routers.
Many network performance problems stem from improper network use. It’s not unusual for employees to be blissfully unaware of the burden their online activities place on the company network. Instead of automatically imposing harsh usage protocols and technical lockdowns, though it’s often much more productive to educate network users on the steps they can take to facilitate better network performance.
For instance, collaboration tools like Google Docs help minimize the amount of data that needs to be transmitted from a company’s servers to individual devices. If an employee chooses to send a presentation to their entire 25-person team over email, the network is going to be tasked with transmitting that information 25 times, regardless of whether every team member actually opens the email attachment. With a cloud-based platform like Google Docs, the full presentation data would only need to be transmitted to those team members who take the initiative to open the Docs link.
Sometimes all an IT administrator needs to do is kindly inform (or remind) their non-technical colleagues of the benefits of using certain platforms in certain ways in order to change behavior and free up monopolized network resources.
These are just three of the many cost-effective tricks that an experienced IT administrator should have in their arsenal. Every network is different, and every company has its own unique needs, but what remains constant is the pressing need to get the most out of one’s network.
Companies should do everything in their power — including the measures outlined above — to optimize their network’s performance. But at the end of the day, they will likely need a helping hand from a networking solutions expert.
At Turn-key Technologies, we’ve spent decades providing network consultations, designing, building, and testing network systems, and delivering reliable managed services to companies across the United States. Our expertise in all things networking is unparalleled, and we can help just about any company boost their network performance or, if necessary, upgrade their network infrastructure.
If you’re interested in finding out where your corporate network stands — and how Turn-key Technologies can help improve it — get the ball rolling by taking advantage of our free Network Assessment Tool.
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