Network Maintenance Support – Importance

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What is network maintenance support?

Network maintenance support is a service provided by network service providers, used to determine the condition of all hardware on the current network. Network maintenance support is responsible for tasks such as verifying that all devices are still operational and performing diagnostics to locate problems in the system. Equipment monitoring can be done remotely or with an interactive voice response system. Service vendors may also offer services where they will dispatch technicians to visit customer sites when needed.

Equiments Monitored

Some of the most common equipment monitored includes DSL modems, cable modems, routers, firewalls, servers, workstations, and network printers. Wireless networks can also be monitored if connected through an access point connected directly into the service provider’s network. A computer connected directly to another computer cannot be monitored from the service provider’s network without being connected through a router or by using a less secure connection such as dial-up.

Advantages

Service providers monitor the status of equipment remotely, rather than dispatching technicians to customer sites. This can save time and money for both parties. A technician would have to be dispatched, which means if there is no trouble he may not work on anything else all day. When monitoring equipment remotely, technicians can dispatch other technicians to other services, resulting in increased productivity. Service providers also benefit because they do not have to pay a technician for the idle time when performing remote diagnostics and repairs can be completed immediately instead of waiting for an appointment with a client site. Another benefit compared with sending down a technician is the removal of the need to cover for a technician during their lunch and breaks.

How is it all done?

Maintaining and monitoring equipment remotely is usually done by technicians with access to the devices’ utilities, such as Telnet/SSH, HTTP(S) or SNMP. Connections may also be made through console ports or Service Processing Units (SPUs). These frequently require passwords and user names in order to authorize access. Different types of connections exist depending on the device type and manufacturer; most manufacturers have multiple methods that can be used to connect or receive information from equipment.

The procedure for diagnosing problems varies greatly depending on the manufacturer and model of the device: some allow bidirectional communication between client and server, allowing either party to initiate a conversation.

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Connection types

Connection types can vary depending on the software being used, however, most will allow either party to initiate a conversation.

Some manufacturers have different methods for establishing these connections.

the procedure for diagnosing problems varies greatly between manufacturers and models; some devices allow bidirectional communication between servers allowing either party to send update files or initiate a session.

Once in contact, diagnostics can be run on the server for testing and updating capabilities.

Allowing access to all devices presents security risks; some manufacturers require authenticating with an administrator account before allowing file transfers.

It is also possible to use this connection to adjust settings (e.g., change passwords) remotely.

These connections are usually closed automatically after several minutes of inactivity, but it is possible to manually disable this timeout. Some administrators prefer to physically visit equipment that requires servicing instead of using support services over the network because tampering evidence will remain behind when the connection is severed (e.g., if someone removed unwanted files); physical visits allow inspection of logged data and hardware conditions to establish an audit trail.

Rise of collaboration tools

With the development of collaboration tools for remote support, the boundary between remote and on-site maintenance is blurring. Collaborative software offers ways to share remote control sessions over the internet with third parties, allows multiple participants at different locations to work together in a virtual session, or lets technicians use desktop sharing to observe each other’s actions as they repair faulty equipment. This can be especially useful when extensive technical knowledge is required, such as during system troubleshooting; some problems are very difficult (if not impossible) for non-experts to understand without seeing them firsthand. Using this type of collaborative tool also enables customers (or their IT departments) to assist their own technicians remotely. For example, a customer who has a good understanding of what they want or how to do something can communicate that knowledge via screen-sharing.

Service outages

Network maintenance support is also valuable during time-sensitive situations such as service outages and large-scale rollouts. By working together in real-time, all participants can avoid delays and mistakes which may otherwise occur when trying to solve the problem alone. Moreover, updates on the situation will not be overlooked; including information about changes made and their effects.

When you call for support from your internet provider (ISP  – like Telstra), the first thing they’ll do is try to take control of your computer remotely (if it’s still connected). They’ll attempt to troubleshoot the problem — usually by restarting your modem — then make you wait at least an hour (while still paying for support time) to see if the problem persists.

If the issue comes back, they’ll make you go through the entire process again, or perhaps send a technician out to your home or business. If it’s not resolved after that, then there’s nothing further that can be done; even if it is simply because they didn’t think about checking other areas (such as the device itself). Any payment made up until this point will likely be forfeited since problems cannot be proven to be caused by their service.

When using network maintenance support services, there are no long phone calls to customer service or technicians sent out to investigate. Instead, experts in the field provide real-time assistance with the connection and work with you through any problems until they’re resolved.

Get in touch with one of our local technicians to see how we can help you.