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Reactive vs Proactive Network Troubleshooting

Apr 25, 2024

Proactive Network Troubleshooting - PathSolutionsIf you’re a Network Engineer, this story may sound familiar… a problem occurs and the NetOps team scrambles to action to try to find out what is causing the problem. It may take hours, days, or even weeks to have a senior level engineer interpret all of the clues to discover a single bad cable on a switch trunk port.

Reactive troubleshooting

Is the most common and basic form of troubleshooting. It means responding to a problem after it has occurred. The problem with a firefighting strategy is that it usually means something is already on fire. Chasing down errors after they have already occurred, usually affects your users.

Why does it take so long to troubleshoot problems like this? You need to know a lot of things:

  • What information should be collected to find the problem
  • Where should this information be collected from (look in the wrong spot and you won’t see it!)
  • How do you interpret the clues to arrive at a conclusion

In many organizations, this is a painful manual process of checking all sorts of spots and then researching possible conclusions. It may feel like you’re stumbling around in the dark, relying on vague and intermittent clues, hoping to identify and resolve the problem before it escalates.

Proactive troubleshooting

Is the opposite of reactive troubleshooting. It means anticipating and preventing problems before they occur. When it comes to network errors, proactive management is the only practical strategy, as opposed to reactive troubleshooting. But how can engineers achieve this?

If you knew what your equipment knew, you could solve problems before users complain. Your network monitoring and troubleshooting solution should include:

  • Automatic collection of all the information available on your network’s condition
  • Automatic correlation the information to determine where along a path the problem occurred
  • Automatically analyze the configuration, performance, and error counters and provide plain-English answers

The benefits of proactive network monitoring are significant and include:

  • Early detection and resolution of issues: Proactive troubleshooting, allows you to identify and resolve issues before they cause disruptions or downtime.
  • Improved network performance: Proactive troubleshooting allows you to identify and address performance issues before they impact users.
  • Enhanced network security: Proactive troubleshooting can help you identify and address security vulnerabilities before they are exploited by attackers.
  • Reduced downtime: By identifying and resolving issues proactively, you can minimize downtime and keep your network up and running.
  • Cost savings: Proactive troubleshooting can help you identify and address issues before they become major problems.
  • Troubleshooting can be done by Tier-1 helpdesk.
    • Not all problems need to be escalated to the senior-level network engineer.
    • More problems can be solved with first-call resolution, creating happier users, and happier engineers who have less tickets to deal with.

Proactive network troubleshooting is a vital part of any comprehensive network monitoring strategy. It helps organizations maintain a stable and secure network infrastructure while minimizing disruptions and downtime.

We all wish we could be at the top of our game—being proactive is a key part of this.


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