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Network Engineer’s Guide to Reducing Mean Time to Resolution

Posted by Tim O'Neill | 10/16/18 8:00 AM

The days of siloed IT infrastructures are quickly ending as services, applications and network components become more interdependent. IT infrastructures are becoming more complex and it’s falling on your shoulders to keep mean time to resolution (MTTR) metrics at a reasonable level.

Research shows that the average MTTR in medium-density desktop support centers is nearly 10 hours—but this doesn’t paint a complete picture of the problem.


Application performance and network uptime are essential to keeping a business afloat and network engineers must bring MTTR as low as possible—the only question is “how?”

 

The Four Pillars of MTTR

There are four key components that every network engineer must walk through on the path to incident resolution:

  • Awareness: Identify the fact that a problem exists in your network.
  • Root-cause: Determine the underlying cause of the issue.
  • Resolution: Carry out the necessary processes to solve the problem.
  • Monitoring: Test to see if the problem is truly fixed and monitor for ongoing issues.

Solving the problem isn’t often the point of contention. You know how to fix any number of networking issues—but you have to find them first. Awareness and root-cause analysis are the biggest hurdles you must overcome to reduce MTTR. 

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When employees are experiencing application outages or network downtime, the issue is pretty easy to spot. However, poor application performance often flies under the radar, which is why
AppNeta calls slow application performance the new downtime. Reducing MTTR for even the most complicated performance issues requires a more efficient network design. 

 

Out-of-Band Monitoring Appliances and Network TAPs Can Reduce MTTR

Out-of-band network monitoring solutions are more important than ever before. Every network should be equipped with strategically placed deep packet capture systems, network forensics and more. However, not all networks set these systems up for success. If you’re still relying on SPAN/Mirror ports to ensure these systems see all of your network traffic, your MTTR is sure to skyrocket.

We’ve discussed why SPAN ports pail in comparison to network TAPs in the past, but when it comes to MTTR the biggest problem is that SPAN ports run the risk of dropped packets. If out-of-band monitoring appliances can’t see every bit, byte and packet® of network traffic, you’ll have a tough time identifying the root cause of any network issues. With network TAPs as the primary means of connectivity, you can reduce MTTR by increasing your visibility into the network.

Passive network TAPs make copies of network traffic to ensure your critical monitoring appliances have 100% visibility. Placing these network TAP-connective monitoring appliances in critical areas of the network (for instance, on both the WAN and LAN sides of a critical application) gives you an easy access point for troubleshooting. 

Rather than sifting through reams of data, network TAPs help you create checkpoints throughout the network for quicker issue awareness and root-cause analysis—leading to much lower MTTR metrics.

 

Visibility is the Key to Reducing MTTR

We can’t stress this enough—if you can’t see 100% of your network traffic, you’re going to have a difficult time keeping MTTR to a minimum. Connecting out-of-band monitoring appliances in today’s complex network infrastructures requires the reliability of purpose-built network TAPs.

[Still not sure you’re designing your network to minimize MTTR? Read our TAP vs SPAN whitepaper to learn why network TAPs are a best practice for network managers.] 

Topics: Network Management, Network Design

Written by Tim O'Neill

As the Senior Technology Consultant & Chief Editor at LoveMyTool, Tim O’Neill has over 45 years of technology experience at data/voice and video networking analysis companies, including successful senior roles in Sales, Product Design, Marketing Management, Business Development and Security.