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“Out”-of-Band Network Management is “In” for IT Professionals

Modern technology is swiftly advancing, driving the world forward. In this rapid-paced environment, IT teams consistently struggle to minimize the impact of network outages and mitigate the corresponding financial fallout. Despite the logistical challenges and financial consequences associated with these disruptions, IT teams can leverage the power of out-of-band management to minimize downtime in a cost-effective manner while even strengthening network security.

Frequency & Causes of Network Downtime

An overwhelming 96% of U.S. businesses grapple with at least one network outage every quarter. This jaw-dropping statistic underscores the pervasive nature of the problem; it’s not an isolated issue but rather an ongoing obstacle that IT teams must regularly confront. Meanwhile, the frequency of such events is reflective of the relentless nature of network disruptions, which pose a constant threat to the seamless operation of businesses across various sectors. Recognizing the diverse array of factors influencing network disruptions is mandatory for devising comprehensive strategies to tackle this intricate problem.

Network outages triggered by severe weather conditions represent a substantial portion of the quarterly disruptions. Hurricanes, storms, and other natural phenomena can physically damage infrastructure, leading to connectivity issues and downtime. The unpredictable nature of these events makes them a pesky factor for IT teams to preemptively address.

Another significant contributor to network downtime is human error. Whether it’s a misconfiguration, an accidental cable disconnection, or a mistake during routine maintenance, the impact can be quite tremendous. Addressing this root cause of downtime requires a combination of training, automated checks, and robust change management protocols.

The evolving landscape of cyber threats poses yet another challenge, with digital attacks being a prominent cause of network outages. As mounting cyberthreats continue to evolve, it becomes all the more imperative for organizations to fortify their defenses against increasingly sophisticated enemies. Ransomware, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, and other malicious activities can cripple a network, causing extensive disruptions and financial losses.

Unplanned maintenance to resolve network issues can further contribute to downtime. Whether due to hardware failures or unforeseen issues requiring immediate attention, unplanned maintenance interrupts regular operations and can include everything ranging from the sudden need for hardware replacements to unexpected software updates or the identification and resolution of emerging network issues.

Financial Implications

Like ripples in a pond, the financial implications of a network disruption extend well beyond the initial downtime. As customers experience service interruptions, the likelihood of reputational damage and customer churn amplifies. In today’s digital markets, where alternatives are aplenty, maintaining a reliable platform with minimized downtime is critical for retaining customer loyalty.

Examining the costs of downtime across industries illustrates their diverse economic impact. For example, in the retail sector, where the reliance on digital transactions and online platforms is heavy, the cost can skyrocket to over $1 million per hour. Over in the IT industry, downtime is typically calculated at about $5,600 per minute, with the full range of lost revenue spanning from $145,000 to $450,000 per hour, depending on the company’s size.

In addition, the burden on IT teams during and after network downtime cannot be overstated. Naturally, the immediate focus is on working around the clock to identify a root cause, initiate remediation efforts, and restore normal operations. However, oftentimes employees must also communicate with frustrated customers to mitigate reputational damage, which can ultimately lead to employee burnout and turnover.

Out-of-Band Management

As IT personnel strive to implement strategies that both minimize downtime and mitigate the financial toll associated with disruptions, out-of-band management surfaces as a tactical and transformative solution, providing a proactive approach to minimizing network downtime, saving costs, and fortifying network security.

Out-of-band management relies on an independent management plane—a framework operating separately from the production network—which permits technicians to secure critical functions on the production network while configuring and managing devices on the out-of-band network. Console servers physically connected to routers, switches, and key hardware at various locations ensure proximity to distributed networks.

The integration of 4G-LTE technology establishes a secure alternative access path, ensuring technicians maintain continuous and secure access to critical resources during primary network outages. This innovation provides sufficient bandwidth for essential processes to operate during an outage, empowering IT professionals to access, manage, and remediate critical network infrastructure remotely—an extra layer of reliability that is crucial for safeguarding business continuity in the face of unexpected disruptions.

Another key advantage of out-of-band management is its enhanced security prowess. By separating user and management traffic, technicians can lock down, restrict access, and thoroughly secure the management plane from anywhere in the world so that even during a security breach on the production network, the independent out-of-band network remains a protected and controlled space.

Securing Tomorrow’s Networks Today

The ongoing dilemma of network downtime remains a substantial concern for businesses and their IT teams. Anchored by the ability to address issues remotely, even when the data plane is down, out-of-band management stands out as a pivotal solution, providing the means to minimize downtime, reduce costs, and fortify network security. By leveraging out-of-band management, businesses can proceed along the intricate highways of IT infrastructure with confidence and resilience, facilitating prompt responses to challenges and safeguarding the continuity of critical operations.

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