Turbulent – the word most people use to describe the last 12 months. The nicely protected corporate networks have been turned inside-out by the effects of the global pandemic. Unplanned, universal remote working has put every employee outside of the trusted network perimeter, including the IT team, creating a host of new challenges – and opportunities. This seismic change has driven light-speed IT transformation through innovation and necessity, just to keep services up and running and accessible to those that need to access them. Letting the good guys in while keeping the bad guys out has never been so hard.

When VIAVI conducted the 14th Annual State of the Network study, we were prepared to see increased challenges faced by teams driven by these global events. But the scale and speed of change is breath-taking. It has been a truly transformative year to look back on and one that shows that IT professionals are struggling to keep their skills current but also showing resiliency in adapting to change.

Top Challenges Have Shifted From Last Year

Understanding end-user experience, the top challenge of 2020, is still high up on the list but the events of the last 12 months have accentuated the growing skills gap for troubleshooting performance problems. Unsurprisingly, mid- and small-sized organizations with less than $2bn in revenue are hardest hit and struggling to compete with the larger organizations to attract, train and retain expert IT staff.

Tools that use simple scorecards to clearly identify the most pressing issues from an end-user perspective and locate root cause of issues automatically, will help alleviate some of the bottlenecks caused by a lack of expertise. First-line and second-line operations personnel do not need to be packet or netflow experts – they need simple scoring scales to understand urgency and impact for onward routing. This alleviates some of the pressure on IT teams with varying expertise levels to maximize their time and results as they address the blistering pace of technology changes in their ecosystem.

And that brings us neatly into the optimistic area that the 2021 report flagged as a big topic.

New Tech Rollouts Poised to Expand

In many cases, IT infrastructure investment had slowed over the last few years. This limited investment was brought into sharp relief when basic working practices were changed forever. The network was never architected to work ‘inside-out’ and many problems from the lack of visibility of the remote worker experience to a massive spike in security attacks made this very clear. Having taken a year to shore up aging infrastructure, IT budgets are being released to tackle the underlying problems.

What is clear, is that monitoring and visibility must be implemented or enhanced alongside innovative, new technology rollouts so that IT teams are not left blind from any angle or twists in the new working norms.

Automation

With new technology deployments planned and unexpected mushrooming of existing applications, more time than ever is spent troubleshooting service availability issues and security breaches. Looking at the top challenges emphasized by the respondents understanding end-user experience, problem domain isolation, measuring underlying network health, and monitoring bandwidth consumption would all benefit from automation.

Example:  The report highlights that the shift to remote working has catapulted Unified Communications (UC) troubleshooting into the spotlight, with some 25% (10 hours) of the working week spent wrestling UC performance issues. For now and the foreseeable future,  many workers are completely dependent on VoIP and video conferencing applications to do their work. The ability for IT Teams to pinpoint root cause quickly and easily is paramount. Automated diagnosis of root cause and scoring end-user experience from solutions such as Observer, help network operations staff to prioritize, find and fix problems, fast.

Read on to get the full 2021 State of the Network Annual Global Study.

About The Author

Maria is a senior marketing leader with more than 30 years' experience in B2B marketing roles at a variety of technical agency and technology vendors including digital agencies, IT networking, enterprise software, open-source software, cybersecurity, cloud and IT managed services organizations.

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