If Only I Had the Time – An IT Manager’s Edition

Sometimes thundering clouds have silver linings. However, this often depends on how you view the cloud and what you do when you see it. The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly a global, thundering cloud. There is no disputing that this particular thunder has disrupted our lives in many ways, from personal relationships and family interactions to recreation and our daily work routine. But what is the silver lining here?

Last Year’s Routine

In 2019 IT managers never had enough time. Time would just simply run out before anyone was ready for it to. There was a continuous stream of trouble tickets from non-IT clients in the office to be resolved; New employee orientations and trainings had to be organized and presented; New applications and security updates needed to be tested and loaded; Vendor meetings were taken to learn new products and updates; Planning sessions and other meetings clogged the calendar but were necessary to keep the network relevant and manage future growth. Alarm lights were always blinking and needing attention. Your boss was popping in with some new ideas. Your co-workers were dropping by the office just to talk. The office day was full of projects and also full of interruptions.

This Year’s Routine

It is likely that, for much of this year, you did not go to the office. Fortunately, much of your job can be managed remotely. It is also likely that when things started to open up a little you were going to the office part time to install or check on physical equipment. With the current state of COVID, office interactions and on-site activity has been somewhat of a see-saw. We opened up, we shut down. We managed tiers of physical interaction with our colleagues and equipment.

With most of the non-IT office staff also working from home, the interrupt-driven office environment changed dramatically. The office environment of years past may permanently become a relic of history. So, part of your new planning routine includes developing work from home (WFH) options, managing the security risks of BYOD and making sure that the “old” network transforms to a “new” network that is adaptable to the new normal of 80% remote work and 20% on site interactions.

Finding That Silver Lining

Reports indicate that many remote employees are happy with their new WFH environment. Many organizations of all size are making plans to permanently assign employees to WFH offices where possible. There are challenges, of course, to this new plan but overall it seems to be well received by both employer and employee. Some reports have shown productivity actually increases when working from home. WFH workers have no commute which immediately adds one to three hours of free time to their daily schedule.

For the IT manager, one of the potential silver linings is the reduction of office interruptions and on-site trouble issues needing immediate attention. Sure, there are other challenges of remote IT management, but now seems like a great time to work on activities that may have been pushed down the priority list. One of those tasks might be to analyze traffic and security reports from your network tools and plan for network upgrades.

A report from SPR in Tech Republic says that 41% of IT executives that were polled, plan to increase security budgets. Other reports suggest that network bandwidth will need to increase to support WFH and an exploding online shopping and ordering community.

Monitoring is the Foundation of Planning

Monitoring network traffic is a critical task in order to make intelligent decisions about the future of the network. Protecting the network is equally as important to keep the current infrastructure and information secure.

As business and employee interaction evolves, the network must adapt to accommodate demographic changes, growth and new threats. A robust visibility, monitoring and security infrastructure allows managers to be ahead of the network growth and threat curve, not just react to bottlenecks and attacks. TAPs and Packet Brokers, like Network Critical’s SmartNA portfolio, provide permanent access and increased efficiency to monitoring and security tools.

Take Advantage of New Found Time

What better time than now to review