Even with automation, staffing is the key to managing a network

Netcordia’s NetMRI appliance is an easy-to-use tool that helps Capt. Randy Floyd identify and manage problems before they affect network performance.

But even the best tool needs eyeballs and hands to take full advantage of it.

“I would like to be able to dedicate one person to look at NetMRI and run some in-depth analysis every day” to troubleshoot potential problems and suboptimal configurations, said Floyd, network operations and telecommunications manager at the Tennessee Military Department.

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Management tool helps Tennessee Guard stay on top of network performance

Problems are easy to spot and fix with the networking tool, but if Floyd had the time or manpower, NetMRI also could let him deal proactively with minor issues — things that are working today but might become problems tomorrow.

“It’s giving me actionable intelligence,” he said. “I just can’t always act on it.”

Having another person devoted at least part-time to network management could help move the network from a respectable 80 percent or 85 percent efficiency to better than 90 percent, he said.

Staffing at the Tennessee Army National Guard, as in many Guard and Reserve units, is complicated by frequent deployments to other areas. Deployments “have been a significant barrier to the efficiency I want to get to,” Floyd said.

It is not a matter of quality or training but stability. “I have very qualified people who are in Afghanistan now,” Floyd said. “Some are on their way to Iraq. About the time I get these guys exactly where I want them, they get taken away.”

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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