Frank Carius

Author: Frank Carius
Enterprise Architect / Partner – connect on LinkedIn

Companies are increasingly using cloud services, and not just since COVID19. This means that there are significantly more users at company locations who require more bandwidth to the cloud service. The hybrid way of working in the home office also places new demands on their network in terms of access to internal services and the cloud. Most companies today already know and use VPN solutions, but these solutions are often not optimized.

In this blog article, you’ll learn about the challenges your network faces during a cloud deployment and, most importantly, why you should always conduct an assessment before implementing a new service. You’ll also learn why you shouldn’t underestimate the impact of a transition on your own network.

Cloud services: Exploiting advantages and recognizing risks

The use of services in the cloud comes with many advantages. You do not have to install and maintain your own servers, and there is no need for major investments, since billing is carried out per user, per month or according to intensity of use. Once the necessary preparations have been made regarding identities and authentication, the client can be distributed, the users can be instructed, and then the use of the service can begin.

However, the risks are often overlooked, because a cloud service poses completely different challenges for the transmission networks compared to local services. In the LAN, we are talking about gigabit bandwidths, latencies in the single-digit millisecond range and dedicated connections. With cloud services, the distance between client and service is much greater, and accordingly, longer latency times must be considered. But your firewall, Internet connection, name resolution and other components also face many new challenges, which you should review before implementing a new cloud solution.

A network assessment clarifies and defines the requirements and ensures that no nasty surprises await in later operation. Do you want to take the risk of having to stop a rollout of a new application because it doesn’t work after all, or that additional data volumes will affect other services and, in the worst case, make them unusable?

Video conferencing and network load: A balancing act

The introduction of Microsoft Teams, WebEx, GoToMeeting and other conferencing solutions pose the greatest challenges to the network, as packet loss, jitter and protocol limitations have a direct impact on audio and video quality. However, for services such as OneDrive or Mail, it is not as critical that packets are transferred as quickly as possible, as cache and offline functions provide relief for the network.

However, AV solutions are predestined for network problems, as the real-time traffic places special demands on the network and the amount of data often literally skyrockets. For example, a site with 100 employees and only 20% meeting usage can quickly add 40-50 MBit of additional continuous load to a WAN line, putting a noticeable strain on VPN or other cloud services.

Therefore, in most cases issues with conferencing solutions are the ones that trigger escalation, which you can prevent from the outset by performing a network assessment.

Five reasons for a network assessment

  • Performance problems with applications

    It is not always the server or the client when applications are not running smoothly. Often, existing monitoring solutions do not provide the necessary data to clearly pinpoint the cause. A network assessment can find the cause or prove that the cause is not the network.

  • Configuration changes

    Major modifications or configuration changes to the network itself may require an assessment. Several times we have discovered previously unnoticed configuration errors in new installations, which resulted in poor performance.

  • New product launch

    With an assessment you can minimize the risks in advance. An assessment can, for example, determine the accessibility of the services from the different locations and different clients and identify problems with name resolution or firewall/proxy settings early on.

  • Inclusion of remote work

    Remote work has become the norm in many companies since COVID19. This has extended the scope of responsibility for the network. An adapted network assessment also includes those clients in the analysis and helps to eliminate problems.

  • Discover optimization potential

    The network assessment also serves to refresh the basics of network communications. Often, just the idea of how an application works and what to expect is enough to make operators want to rethink and adjust their current configuration without any measurement at all. This is actually desirable, because the measurement should not capture an environment that is known to be less than optimally configured.

Why “It’ll be fine” is not a network strategy

If you have been taking the “It’ll be fine” or “We have enough bandwidth” approach to rolling out new applications up to now, then you may have been lucky or tolerated the odd problem whose cause you were never able to conclusively determine.

It is always more time-consuming and ultimately more expensive to analyze the various error scenarios with expert knowledge after the fact than to create the prerequisites as part of a network assessment.

Is your company cloud-ready?
Would you like to know how well your network is prepared for the cloud? Book your individual network check with Frank Carius now.