5 Ways to Promote Network Maintenance and Health

By Eric Kratz

Dec 12, 2023 9:00:00 AM

About 4 minutes

Your company’s network acts as its circulatory system, allowing vital data to move from the data center to the cloud and endpoints and back. If your network is in poor health, you can’t transmit mission-critical information quickly, reliably, and securely. 

The network needs to support your communications, application, and workload requirements. Proper network maintenance and regular assessments are key to ensuring that your company is productive and secure. Keeping in mind some key areas of maintenance will help your organization stay on top of network performance issues and futureproof your connectivity.

Here’s an overview of 5 ways your company can maintain your network to ensure that it is healthy.

1) Upgrades

Upgrades are crucial to keeping your network devices healthy and modernized. Most vendors release updates for bugs, security fixes, and enhancements a few times a year.  

To keep up with these releases, your company should try to schedule upgrades once or twice a year. Upgrading your network when common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVE) or security fixes come around is crucial. Upgrades reduce the chance of failure and improve network security.

2) Reboots

Even if you’re not carrying out an upgrade, regularly performing a simple reboot is recommended. The most advanced software will keep memory locked up and not release it. This means that unless you reboot a device, it will have lower memory available as time goes on.

3) Redundancy 

Redundancy within networks is often overlooked or seen as unnecessary. Having redundancy is very important for any business that requires high levels of availability and uptime.  

Redundancy takes many different forms. Redundancy within a device can be created using an extra power supply or an extra supervisor card. Redundancy within a level of networking can take the form of an extra device in a virtual pair, such as Aruba Virtual Switching Extension (VSX) or Cisco Virtual Port Channel (vPC). 

Creating switch stacks is also a form of redundancy. Having multiple devices in a stack ensures that if one switch goes down, the entire stack is not lost.

Redundancy in links can be used in many ways. Enabling multi-chassis aggregation means an aggregation point can link 2 separate devices, enhancing redundancy and bandwidth. Multiple links between devices also increase speed, bandwidth, and reliability.

Redundancy can also buy much-needed maintenance windows. When your company properly sets up network redundancy, upgrades and hardware swap-outs can happen with little or no downtime. 

4) Keeping Up With the Future of Cabling Speed 

Cable speeds for copper and fiber should not be ignored. Copper speeds for Category 5e or 6 cables are up to 1 Gigabit, with a distance of 100 meters. Category 6A cables can be used for 10 Gigabit. Category 7 cables can also be used for 10 Gigabit but with shielded ethernet cords only. This cabling speed basically eliminates all crosstalk and is backward compatible. When available, the newest Category 8 will be able to be used for 25 to 40 Gbps speeds.

Fiber cabling can be accomplished using Single Mode or Multimode. Single mode is less expensive. The small form-factor pluggable (SFP) or SPF+ modules are much more expensive. Single mode is most often depicted using a yellow cable.

Multimode has different levels, in which OM1/2 is good for 1Gbps speeds and OM3/4 is good for 10Gbps speeds. The OM1/2 is usually an orange cable, and the OM3/4 is usually light blue or aqua. The OM levels are always written on the cables.

While both methods of upgrading your cabling speed can be expensive, upgrading may be a necessity to achieve increased speed within your network.

5) Keep Networking Simple

When maintaining the health of your network, remember to keep it simple. Making a network overly complicated with too many devices or devices that don’t communicate with each other can make implementing future changes and troubleshooting issues difficult. 

Creating a complex and difficult configuration can also create problems. These types of complicated networks can increase downtime and lead to increased network costs. 

Contrary to popular belief, having the latest and greatest networking solution is not always the best for your company. If the network solution is simple, redundant, and still functions properly, then that is the best solution for your network.  

Assessing Your Network Health

Getting an outside perspective on your network can be useful when assessing its health. A technology partner may uncover issues that your internal IT team has overlooked in the past.

ProActive Solutions takes a consultative approach to helping our customers build and maintain their networks. We design custom network solutions using leading technologies as part of our infrastructure capabilities. Our team can work with you to assess your network and create a proposal for optimizing and updating it.

Get advice on how to optimize your network. Request a network services consultation from ProActive.

Tags: network assessment, Network maintenance, network upgrades, device reboot, network redundancy, cabling speed, network complexity