Top tips is a weekly column where we highlight what’s trending in the tech world today and list out ways to explore these trends. This week we’re looking at five ways your business can minimize unplanned network downtime.

Network downtime is the bane of the IT service provider. It disrupts not only internal operations, but can greatly inconvenience your customer who relies on the uninterrupted access to and the full functioning of your product or service.

Unplanned network downtime is often the result of an error or malfunction, and leads to unnecessary headaches including wasting precious resources and time that could be spent making improvements to your services and operations. In recent years, network downtime has gotten more and more expensive with organizations reporting that the cost of downtime averages between USD 301,000 and 400,000 per hour. Yikes!

Unfortunately, like other issues that plague tech organizations, downtime is inevitable. Thankfully, there are ways to minimize it. Here are five ways to ensure that you can avoid network downtime.

1. Constantly monitor your infrastructure

To keep your network infrastructure up and running, constant monitoring is key and this applies to every network component, both hardware and software. This way, organizations stay on top of existing vulnerabilities and potential problem areas, greatly reducing the chances of being blindsided by a failure. This enables organizations to ensure that the infrastructure is always operating at optimal efficiency.

2. Perform frequent testing

It’s also necessary to keep running tests on the infrastructure to identify problem areas and to understand how the network performs in a range of scenarios. Digital twins can play a major role in infrastructure testing as they provide valuable and detailed insights into your network infrastructure without the need for real-world testing and the complications that might arise from it.

3. Implement a robust predictive maintenance strategy

Constant monitoring and testing on your network infrastructure helps paint a clear picture of current and future performance. Gathering real-time data is a crucial aspect of infrastructure monitoring, and forms a solid base for a robust predictive maintenance (PdM) strategy. PdM uses real-time and historical data to predict when a component might fail, and proactively performs maintenance to ensure that it doesn’t disrupt network functions. The end goal is minimizing downtime that arises from device malfunctions.

4. Have a recovery plan in place

Unfortunately, downtime is an inevitability when you’re dealing with any form of tech. It’s going to happen eventually, regardless of what complex and supposedly foolproof measures you implement. When it happens, make sure you have an effective fault management process and disaster recovery plan in place. These procedures form a reactive approach to dealing with downtime, and can mean the difference between identifying the root cause and bouncing back quickly, or facing a prolonged business disruption and potentially huge losses. 

5. Implement redundant systems

System redundancy refers to creating copies of critical infrastructure components. This concept functions as a form of load balancing where you’re eliminating a central point of failure in your infrastructure. If a critical component fails, the duplicate can take over operations, ensuring minimal disruption and service continuity. Redundant systems function as backups while you get to the root of the issue affecting the primary device, allowing you to get the job done without having to take your systems offline.

The wheels of tech are always turning. Network infrastructures are becoming increasingly complex, so IT professionals need to be proactive by ramping up and constantly revising strategies to deal with ever-present threats. The tips and tricks outlined above aren’t guaranteed to work all the time. But they’re a good starting point in your quest to minimize downtime.