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The Four Horsemen of Network Operations

Feb 15, 2023

Painting: The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse, by Viktor Vasnetsov.The four horsemen of network operations that can plague NetOps teams can be accurately described as: User Fatigue, False Positives, Management Indifference, and Resource Exhaustion. You know how—in legends and film—seeing four horsemen on the horizon is bad news? Let’s dig a little into each of these four plagues on network operations:

User Fatigue

This portent of bad news, User Fatigue, has two aspects: Users who grow tired of complaining to IT departments, and IT departments who become complacent and don’t listen or respond to user complaints.

If users continue to complain about the network creating unified communications problems, yet the network team is slow to respond to these complaints, we get it. We know the network engineers are scrambling overtime on the problems, but don’t have the tools to solve them. The users will eventually become tired of complaining and will stop opening tickets. Management may think that the problem is resolved when it’s actually that the users have turned against the IT department.

On the flip side, if users open tons of tickets that don’t get resolved, the IT staff may get inundated with complaints that they simply can’t all resolve because they don’t have the correct information about what’s happening. The tickets pile up, and the staff becomes discouraged because they can’t play the hero and solve the problems.

False Positives

Nothing is worse than a monitoring system that triggers an alert about a problem but when you check the issue, everything is fine. This means that the monitoring system can’t be trusted, and future alerts will be ignored until users complain.

If the monitoring system had more information, it might be able to help you diagnose the problem without false alerts, thus leading to an actual resolution.

Management Indifference

If the network team knows about what’s broken in the network, yet management has no visibility or understanding of the problem(s), they may not prioritize network issues appropriately. This means management ends up focused on metrics that are not truly beneficial to the organization.

For example: If users complain about random slowdowns, management may focus on adding bandwidth to the WAN because that’s what the problem was before. If there was additional information brought to bear, the engineers could have clarified to management that a fiber link was too tightly turned and was dropping 12% of the packets on the way to the WAN, thus causing the slowdowns.

Exhaustion of Resources

Providing IT services is a limited game for most organizations. There is only so much that can be done by the existing staff. Users will ask for the moon, yet departments will deliver the maximum services that their capabilities allow. In this case, the engineers dream of more resources at their disposal to handle the fourth horsemen, the Exhaustion of Resources. If you were able to better use the resources you have, the exhaustion point might be pushed out to the horizon.

Squashing the Horsemen

The four horsemen of network operations can be overcome with improved procedures, processes, and technology. User Fatigue can be fixed if you had more information and can solve problems the first time they occur. False Positives can be solved with automated intelligent analysis of network conditions so the root causes of problems are solved the moment they occur. Management Indifference can be prevented if the right clues are brought to bear before incorrect judgments are made. Exhaustion of Resources can be prevented if the staff has free time to provide proper support to users—this only happens if the rest of the organization is humming along smoothly.

PathSolutions TotalView is designed to help address all of these issues and more.

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