Top 5 Things Slowing Down your Network

by Michael Flannery
April 18, 2018

SMB/Mid-Market Spotlight: The top 5 things slowing down your network

A customer walks into your office and while they’re waiting, they attempt to access WiFi. They manage to get online, but complain your Internet is slow. Then YOU notice your connection is slow, too.

Has this happened to you? As consumers, we’ve probably all experienced it some point. The problem isn’t just slow Internet, so calling your Internet provider won’t fix things. The culprit is likely your network. In addition to your customers, your own employees serving your customers are trying to access it, too. All of that activity drains bandwidth and puts a strain on your network. Not to mention people’s patience, their impression of your company, and their likelihood of doing business with you, or working for you, in the future.

Leading problems with SMB Mid-Market networks

The days when your network was just a bunch of wires and boxes that connected people together and to the printer are long gone. Today your network is a critical lifeline to cloud-based applications and data that empower your entire organization to get things done. Anything that slows that network down can lead to lost opportunities, lost connections and lost revenue.

Top 5 Things Slowing Down your Network

The first step to addressing the problem is finding out the root cause which usually comes down to one of these basic issues. Does any of this sound familiar?

1. Current bandwidth is misallocated across existing applications. The good news here is, it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have enough bandwidth. It just means too much is being dedicated to applications that don’t need it, while too little is set aside for apps that truly demand it.

2. Unnecessary network traffic. Entertainment apps like streaming music, social media and YouTube really soak up bandwidth. It may not be realistic to completely blacklist them, but rules should be created to ensure they get bandwidth AFTER your truly business-critical applications.

3. Over-provisioning bandwidth based on vendor recommendations. Similar to issue #1, many times we don’t test the impact of a new application on the network. We simply read the vendor estimates it requires “X” amount of bandwidth, and we assign and forget it. This frequently results in too much bandwidth being allocated to one application causing your other apps to suffer the consequences.

4. “Shadow” applications you don’t even know about. This covers a lot of scenarios, but let’s start with the ominous-sounding “shadow IT”. This is simply when users in your organization sign up for a cloud-based subscription of a legit program and start using it – paying for it monthly on their company credit card – WITHOUT (here’s the important part) letting IT know about it. They aren’t trying to be workplace super-villains, but, still, the usage puts a drain on the network. And IT can’t control something they don’t know exists.

5. Lack of visibility and control. Really this just sums up the above four issues. Without the ability to see into application usage across the network, you end up with misallocated and/or over-provisioned bandwidth, and/or being sucked up by personal/entertainment media and cloud-based shadow apps you are unaware of. Getting visibility – if you have technology to support it – is the first step to addressing the challenge. Then prioritization and policy/rule creation – again given the right technology – is the second.

While this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of things that might be slowing down your network, there are certainly improvements that would go a long way in making your bandwidth work harder for you if you could address them. Check out the e-book “What’s Holding Your Applications Back?” to read more about how to correct these five bandwidth-suckers.

Addressing the challenge with SD-WAN

While the problems themselves are conceptually simple, they weren’t easy to address until recently (which explains why they’re so prevalent). The rapid uptake of SD-WAN adoption provides convincing evidence of just how common these problems are. Thanks to the technology in SD-WAN, IT leaders/managers can see which applications are draining their bandwidth. Identifying the problems is the first step in optimizing the performance of your network. Making the move to SD-WAN is an easy decision, but the technology is different than anything that’s come before. Many organizations find a fully managed solution such as Windstream SD-WAN Concierge makes the process of moving to SD-WAN a lot easier and frees your own team to focus on even more strategic challenges which is a huge help for companies trying to build competitive advantage through digital transformation.