Solving Real-Time Network Issues on Campus Using Network Overlay Tools

Today’s on-campus help desk is challenged with solving problems across a wide range of users and devices. From connectivity issues to hardware malfunctions and everything in between, there’s often a mounting pile of IT tickets to be received and resolved. This not only puts a strain on the resources appointed to address campus IT needs, but also affects how students and staff perceive the level of service they receive in response to help inquiries.

The difference between exercising reactive IT measures that necessitate constant firefighting and implementing proactive IT solutions that foster improved service is knowing how to get ahead of the problems. So when it comes to managing your campus’s wireless network, it’s important to have the kind of architecture that enables you to use network overlay tools.

By applying overlay tools to monitor and detect network issues, your IT help desk is equipped to reduce incoming calls, respond to issues more quickly and solve problems in real time. Read on to learn more about transitioning your campus’s IT help desk approach from reactive to proactive, and then find out how to support your ever-increasing wireless network demands by reading the Step-by-Step Guide to Wireless Networking for Higher Education IT Pros.

The Plight of the Modern Campus IT Help Desk

“Gartner predicts that by 2018, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) and similar programs will double, and perhaps even triple, as mobile technology expands beyond phones, tablets and notebook computers into cars, clothing, watches and even body cameras. IT directors are already ­expanding campus networking and wireless services to include almost three times as many devices as there are faculty, staff and students, because three devices per person is now the norm. And with the Internet of Everything looming on the horizon, the number of devices per person easily could increase by a factor of 10 well before 2018… Network overload, security and tech support are the primary concerns confounding college IT professionals nationwide.” (Ed Tech)

There’s no question that technology and connectivity-related advancements have caused a surge in wireless network usage on campuses everywhere — and, subsequently, problems associated with that usage. Higher education IT professionals are facing a time of heightened need, and the proliferation of Internet-dependent devices and applications makes their job that much more complex and burdensome.

“Like public and private sector enterprises everywhere, higher education institutions continue to place increasing reliance on information technology. Whether IT supports administration, instruction, or research, complex webs of hardware and software resources underlie an even more complex web of services.” (Educause)

To maintain the kind of IT support that every campus needs in order to deliver a positive user experience, it’s essential to overcome reactive routines and implement solutions that promote proactive network management.

Common Network Issues Plaguing the IT Department

A reactive approach to campus IT has the potential to bring the following network problems to the surface — on a scale that affects large numbers of users institution-wide.

Security Dangers: There’s no room for compromised security when it comes to your institution’s wireless network. Without proactive management, you may be putting users at risk and opening the campus up to dangers that cause widespread network issues.

Slow Connectivity: A sluggish network connection can cause major user frustration and irritability, and it has the potential to seriously hinder productivity.

Spotty Coverage: Are the campus’s wireless network users struggling to find areas of strong connectivity? Bandwidth, interference and network design complications may be making it difficult for users to have reliable coverage.

Equipment Failure: If your IT pros are spending more time troubleshooting equipment problems than they should, they don’t have the opportunity to focus on other, more critical responsibilities.

What Network Overlay Tools Bring to the Table

Network overlay tools are an important factor in responding to today’s campus IT challenges because they enable higher education IT pros to monitor and detect issues in real time and then apply solutions efficiently across the network. That’s the very definition of proactive IT. It means that, in many cases, problems can be identified and resolved before users ever even know they exist.

With a properly designed wireless networking infrastructure and the appropriate network overlay tools, IT professionals are poised to benefit from the following advantages:

A Decrease in Help Desk Calls

Are your help desk professionals overworked and understaffed? If so, it’s probably a sign that the IT department is functioning in reactive mode and drowning in a sea of inquiry tickets. With network overlay tools that feature the capabilities to pinpoint and resolve issues across the network before they affect potentially thousands of users, your help desk should expect to experience a major decrease in the number of calls flooding their queue.

Improved Mean Time to Resolution

The help desk is tasked with more than just managing IT; there’s a customer service component that affects users’ perception of the institution’s ability to meet their needs. And in this age of instant access and ever-growing reliance on connectivity, there’s unlikely to be much tolerance for slow response to IT issues that hinder students and staff in their daily routines. Network overlay tools can help the on-campus help desk shorten the average time it takes to resolve issues as they are communicated by users.

Proactive Monitoring of Network Issues

It’s always better to detect and address problems before they develop into larger-scale issues. Network overlay tools enable this element of proactive monitoring. Whether you’re dealing with security, connectivity or other network-related threats, you want to be in the best position to head them off as early as possible. This can only be achieved by taking the necessary steps to monitor your network proactively.

Ability to Manage Network Troubles in Real Time

When it comes to network management, the concept of “real-time” issue resolution may seem unrealistic if you’re buried under a heap of help desk requests. But this doesn’t have to be the case. As a result of the reduced calls, quicker resolution times and proactive monitoring that network overlay tools make possible, you have the foundation needed to handle network challenges as they arise.

Empowering your IT team to operate in a proactive way brings major benefits to the entire campus. At the end of day, they are accountable for delivering the kind of service and support that your school’s users expect. Their success hinges on having the network architecture and overlay tools that make proactivity a reality. Find out how to get there by downloading your free copy of the Step-by-Step Guide to Wireless Networking for Higher Education IT Pros.

By Craig Badrick

January 18, 2017

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