Have you got your network covered for the holidays?

Even when tech pros find time for a vacation, IT systems need to stay up and running. In this guest post, SolarWinds’ Mav Turner gives network admins a list of steps they can take to make sure things run as smoothly as possible while they’re gone for the holidays. 


‘Tis the season to pack your bags, exit the office, and enjoy some quality PTO – vacationing, relaxing and having fun. Network administrators, be cautioned: As you’re away, your enterprise network is still in the IT closet breaking a sweat to keep your organization’s business going 24/7. Holiday or not, IT has to go on, and business demands high availability, performance and consistency. Have you got your network covered for the holidays?

Network problems are always a handful – outages, latency, network bandwidth crunch, QoS issues, firewall and network device config changes, IP address conflicts, wireless break-ins, and more. You can’t just leave behind your network unmonitored. Here are 10 tips to ensure that you can enjoy your holiday time off without having to stress over whether or not you have your network covered.

10 geek tips for securing your network over the holidays

  1. Ensure there is constant visibility into your network’s performance, and that metrics are constantly monitored and captured.
  2. Even though you are out on vacation, you need to be alerted should there be a major network management mishap. If not you, make sure that at least the next person in charge is alerted and that issues are escalated until the problem is fixed.
  3. All network activity and events should be logged and captured so you can come back and examine any irregularities in network and user behavior.
  4. Make sure failover plans are in place for disaster recovery in case there is business discontinuity due to network issues.
  5. For some, the holiday season actually means a big increase in network load. You might have customers trying to get their last minute orders in, and your business teams must process them. Outages always come at a cost; but in the busiest buying season of the year, it’s an even bigger issue. Effective WAN optimization could be the key to tackle spikes in network load.
  6. Application or service interruption need not always have network roots, and could possibly stem up from an application or server failure issue, or could be the cause of a virtualization defect. You need to ensure your network gets the granular visibility to sift through these faults and identify the root cause quickly – especially when you are not around.
  7. Employees bringing personalized devices into the network can cause wireless and network traffic problems. BYOD traffic and endpoint activity must be tracked and captured for compliance analysis and security. Plus, factor in the new smartphones and gadgets that your employees get for the holidays. Make sure you have a good baseline for monitoring, and that you can easily identify and resolve the impact of the new iPads, wireless helicopters, and everything else joining the network or using the same frequencies so they don’t impact your business.
  8. Large organizations across multiple locations are more likely to have unauthorized configuration changes on firewalls and other network devices. You need all of these changes recorded when you get back. If any change needs to be reverted, you should be allowed to do it. In addition, be sure to implement any organization network policy for not authorizing config changes during the holidays so nothing gets meddled with when most IT folks are out.
  9. Avoid network emergency issues by spending a little extra time reviewing your infrastructure before you take off. It’s best to make sure all your devices with dual-power supplies are actually plugged in, your UPS batteries are fully charged and not faulty, and you don’t have any failed disks in a RAID that have not been replaced, etc.
  10. Your enterprise network spans across your LAN, VLAN, WLAN and WAN. Install effective network safeguarding mechanisms to protect them all when you are off duty.

If you are the type who works even during the holidays, it’s better to monitor your network on-the-go. Having the right software for network management in place is the best bet. You may not know what’s going to happen and when. “Monitoring is better than repair” is the new adage that applies perfectly to evolving enterprise networks.

A week’s worth of vacation may be a week’s worth of network disaster unless you have the right network monitoring infrastructure setup to tackle issues in your absence. You may be out for the holidays, but you don’t want your network to be out!

For additional information, tips and best practices on network troubleshooting and monitoring, you can read the Network Troubleshooting and Problem Identification whitepaper or watch the Mastering Network Troubleshooting and Monitoring with SolarWinds webcast.

Have happy network-hassle-free holidays!

About the author: This post was submitted by Mav Turner, SolarWinds Group Product Manager.