The Men & Mice Blog

Men & Mice Sensible IPAM Part 1: IP Conflict Resolution

Posted by Greg Fazekas on 11/9/18 7:56 AM

Picking up on the deep dive into sensible management for your scattered network resources, this Playbook blog series consists of five parts (plus the overview we've published previously) that are:

0. Overview
1. Conflict Resolution
2. Scaling
3. Cloud
4. Day-to-Day Management
5. Security

Each part of this blog series presents real-world problems that Men & Mice have experience in solving. This week’s focus is on Conflict Resolution.

Addressing IP overlaps and DNS conflicts

Imagine that you are a:

  • CIO with several geolocations but lacking a core network management solution, whose company just got acquired. You're looking for a solution that would be a good fit for the merged environments.
  • CTO of a solutions provider for companies. One of your customers, operating two data centers and building another for cloud services, needs an IPAM solution that can bridge between on premises and cloud.
  • Consultant, advising with a project involving the merger of two environments. You're looking for a single automation platform that can resolve the issues arising from overlapping network spaces.

The number one obstacle is resolving conflicts between services, applications, network environments and geolocations, at the IP address, DHCP and DNS levels.Conflict resolution increases security, efficiency and availability. 

What You Need

dns_dhcp_ipam_analysis

An overlay solution deployed on top of your IP infrastructure. A complete overview of every asset you have, and a convenient (preferably automated) way to resolve existing conflicts between them. (And, of course, prevent further ones.)

At the first step you need an easy way to analyze data from across network components. Longer term, one that helps ensure that new IP address assignments, DNS zones, and DHCP scopes are not created without cross-checking for conflicts throughout the entire network environment, including your on-prem and cloud (and multi-cloud as is often the case now).

How Men & Mice Can Help

DNS_DHCP_IPAM

A software-based and API-driven solution, the Men & Mice Suite was developed to simplify core management of IP infrastructure in heterogeneous environments.

Software-based means nominal performance impact on your hardware and cloud resources, and easier deployment because there are no physical appliances to implement. The Men & Mice Suite works on top of any environment(s) you have without impeding performance or disrupting operations.

API-driven design creates convenient ways to manage and automate your DHCP, DNS, and IP Address Management. It also collates various platforms into a single control mechanism through a central interface. The Men & Mice Suite boasts a backend-agnostic API that plugs into network components seamlessly.

You and your team can reduce project time and cost significantly through more quickly identifying overlaps and conflicts, which are visible in the Men & Mice Suite, as well as  more quickly identifying means for resolving them. Resources, be they related to DNS, DHCP, or IP Address management, can be replaced, upgraded, or expanded without the need to start over from scratch. Plus, with Men & Mice, you can capitalize on and migrate to/from whichever best-in-class cloud services make sense for you (Azure, AWS…).

DNS, DHCP and IPAM Demo

Topics: multi-cloud, IPAM, IP address management

Fast-tracking Azure adoption with Men & Mice Suite for hybrid and cloud

Posted by Greg Fazekas on 10/29/18 9:52 AM

Creating sensible DNS, DHCP and IP address management (DDI) isn't always easy - as we've seen. Consolidating management of DNS, DHCP, and IP addresses, particularly those scattered across multi-vendor platforms both on-prem and in the cloud, is a common challenge for enterprises.

Management and migration at scale requires tools optimized for this purpose.

Fortune 100, 500 and 1000 companies as well as large-scale municipalities, education and research institutions rely on Men & Mice Suite for their IPAM and DNS. More and more are moving workloads into the cloud, which is easier with Men & Mice.

Have DNS zones scattered across different platforms and environments, and you want to migrate to Azure?

By deploying the Men & Mice Suite management solution you can:

  • bulk migrate or import DNS zones into Azure DNS
  • Use workflow extensions to automatically tag zones throughout the migration phases
  • Identify zones that have been changed at their previous provider during the migration and would need to be updated with Azure

After migration, you have the ability to:

  • track changes, delegate access,
  • see all zones across multiple subscriptions,
  • and manage the data through APIs.

In the end, you’ll have increased service levels, improved network security, and overall uptime of critical network resources.

Men & Mice: changing the way the world sees (Microsoft) networks

Utilizing cloud services is a priority for enterprises challenged by infrastructure sprawl, segmented projects, and mergers & acquisitions. But they also face obstacles in the forms of migration costs, loss of control and security, and lack of compatibility between services.

A simple, enterprise-grade product like the Men & Mice Suite offers a solution to both set of problems. It enables customers to scale with and into Azure while leveraging existing network investments.

Core benefits of Men & Mice

  • Backend-agnostic design and software-based architecture.
  • Simplifies workflows and consistency across different network operations.
  • Automates through powerful API-first design.

Intuitive integration for Microsoft environments

men_mice_DNS_IPAM_timeline

Men & Mice has been supporting Microsoft products and services since the very beginning. Working closely with Microsoft's development teams, the Men & Mice Suite was the first IP Address Management solution to fully integrate with Active Directory.

Deployed on top of Microsoft or hybrid network environments the Men & Mice Suite provides unified access and control through a single-pane-of-glass interface. Azure's built-in features for resilience, scaling, and security are integrated into an unobtrusive overlay, while gaining full Active Directory integration, network visibility, and functionality.

For more information on the benefits of using the Men & Mice Suite with Microsoft environment, download our fact sheet and watch a short introductory video:

Topics: azure, Azure DNS, network security, IP address management, DNS redundancy

Men & Mice Suite IPAM and DNS with xDNS Redundancy™: security without complexity

Posted by Greg Fazekas on 8/22/18 7:12 AM

As we increased focus on cloud optimization, DNS redundancy, and compatibility across hybrid and multi-cloud networks in our latest Men & Mice Suite v9.1 release, we also went to great lengths to ensure visibility and ease-of-use across IP address management as a means of increasing network security.

Dynamic IP infrastructure challenges require dynamic DNS management

IP address management in general, and creating DNS redundancy in particular, are complex and often expensive challenges for network administrators. The possibility for human error leading to configuration errors and DNS failures, establishing where, and with which vendor in a distributed network an error has occurred, and the sheer disruptive power of DDoS attacks compound these challenges. Furthermore, increased redundancy across various environments within a network ecosystem often brings with it hindered visibility.

Without redundancies however, Networks are more susceptible to failure. Thus an important feature in the Men & Mice Suite 9.1 release is the improved xDNS Redundancy™.

xdns_new_yellow

xDNS Redundancy in Men & Mice Suite v9.1

Men & Mice Suite's xDNS Redundancy™ provides a level of abstraction that builds automation, provides centralized views, eliminates human error and removes conflicting DNS service provider platform complexities (e.g. incompatible APIs). It increases visibility and control of networks with hybrid or multiple cloud dns providers by unifying management, supporting Active Directory-hosted zones, offering the ability to create read-only zones (see below), and improving native support for Azure DNS and Amazon Route 53, all of which benefits the functionality and core health of IP infrastructure. 

We think of it as “taking the ‘daunt’ out of DNS redundancy." It streamlines the migration and management of a large number of DNS zones, such as with Azure DNS and Amazon Route 53, by utilizing cloud-native features to monitor changes to DNS made outside of the Men & Mice Suite, greatly improving synchronization of DNS data from cloud providers. It also enables the assignment of read-only zones across the network to boost resilience against DDoS attacks and other DNS failures.

xDNS Redundancy for creating read-only DNS zones

It is now possible to mark a DNS zone in an xDNS replication group as read-only. While internal changes are synced, external modifications to read-only xDNS instances will not be replicated to other zones.  

Once an xDNS zone redundancy group has been created, xDNS assists the administrator in creating identically replicated zone content, resulting in multiple equal master zones. Additional zones can be added or removed from the xDNS group as required.

If an xDNS zone is not available for updating (for instance - pun intended 😁 - if one DNS service provider experiences an outage) it will be marked as ‘out-of-sync’. Once it becomes available again, current data will be re-synchronized and updated from other zones.

All changes can be initiated by the authorized user through the Men & Mice Suite’s web-based or Windows-based management consoles or APIs, and will be applied to all zone instances in the group. All changes to xDNS grouped zones made externally, or outside of the Men & Mice Suite, will not be synchronized.

DNS management built for the cloudvisibility

A common pain point for CISOs and network managers is the lack of centralized views and the workflow automation difficulties of coordinating on multiple platforms. Whether you’re using a single-platform deployment or a combination of Cloud DNS providers (from Akamai Fast DNS to Azure DNS, Amazon Route 53 Dyn, NS1, or OpenStack), Men & Mice Suite’s xDNS gives you a convenient means to monitor and manage all your DNS resources within the Men & Mice Suite.

Simplifying the management of high-availability network resources across multiple environments is crucial for making network management intuitive and effective. To further address this, we added a web-based application in our 9.1 release, which rounds out the visibility trifecta that also includes a Windows-based management console as well as reliable and compatible REST, SOAP and JSON-RPC APIs. CISOs and network managers are able to look into their domains (again: pun absolutely intended 😉) from anywhere at any time, the way it works best for them.

The Men & Mice Suite is already known to be a robust DNS, DHCP and IPAM (DDI) solution that's easy to implement and able to leverage existing infrastructure investments to provide the visibility and ease-of-use for hybrid and multi-cloud environments that’s missing from competitive products.

Fast and efficient in heterogeneous DNS and DHCP environments, the Men & Mice Suite supports thousands of concurrent users and API connections, with millions of managed IPs and DNS records, for automation and provisioning, whether Unix/Linux, Windows, and Cisco IOS or across cloud services like Azure DNS, Amazon Route 53, Dyn, NS1 and Akamai Fast DNS, as well as IPAM in AWS, Azure and OpenStack.

We’ll be at VMWorld, at booth #2124let us show you how Men & Mice Suite’s xDNS functionality can ease network management and prevent against errors, DDoS and other attacks.Book appointment

DNS, DHCP & IPAM Software Trial

Topics: Akamai Fast DNS, NS1, Dyn, Amazon Route 53, Azure DNS, Cisco IOS, network security, vmworld, DNS events, hybrid network, hybrid cloud, IP address management, network outages

Men & Mice at VMworld 2018, Las Vegas Part 1: DATA CENTER AND CLOUD

Posted by Greg Fazekas on 7/30/18 6:30 AM

men_mice_dns_vmworld2018

We’re returning to VMworld in Las Vegas, August 26-30 (Booth #2124, come say hi!) — and excited to not only see how our industry is evolving to virtualization and automation, but to also contribute our two cents to the dialog (Or 9.1 cents, as it were).

Since the newly released Men & Mice Suite v9.1 offers highly scalable and efficient APIs that act as an abstraction layer to manage an organization’s whole DNS, DHCP and IP address infrastructure, across multiple vendors and cloud platforms, we’re focusing on two main tracks from the VMWorld agenda: Data Center and Cloud and Networking and Security, the first of which we’ll discuss in this post (the latter will appear in the next post).

DATA CENTER AND CLOUD

VMworld’s focus on integrated IT strategy plays nicely with the Men & Mice Suite v9.1 release (and our larger objectives as well).

Men & Mice has been providing compatibility with VMware’s vRealize Orchestrator and vRealize Automation for years now. As the industry turns toward virtualization and cloud technology to build its next-generation, hyper-converged infrastructure in hybrid cloud environments, running cloud-native applications to cut costs and increase efficiency, so to have we adapted our Men & Mice Suite of DNS, DHCP and IPAM solutions to help organizations manage networks effectively and at scale.

The Men & Mice Suite v9.1 supports Unix/Linux, Windows, and Cisco IOS and stretches into the cloud with functionality across Azure DNS, Amazon Route 53, Dyn, NS1 and Akamai Fast DNS, as well as IPAM in AWS, Azure and OpenStack.  It can be dropped on top of an organization’s existing infrastructure to manage, sync and automate network changes, authorizations and provide comprehensive insight into large-scale networks through one unified dashboard.

The Men & Mice Suite v9.1 supports thousands of concurrent users and API connections, with millions of managed IPs and DNS records, for automation and provisioning.

Virtualized Infrastructure and Applicationsmen & mice_secure_visible_dns

We favor virtualization over physical appliances and platform-specific, custom hardware allocation. Turns out, our customers do too.  We want our customers to be able to make the right choices for their network infrastructure (DDI) needs. Then, we offer our environment- and platform-agnostic Men & Mice Suite to help them manage it.

Virtualized infrastructure is both cost and performance efficient. Men & Mice Suite gives organizations the flexibility and adaptability they need as every area of business operations goes digital, providing the managaibility and visibility needed for high-availability networks to be, well, highly available.

Our new Men & Mice Suite v9.1, an overlay network management solution, offers many advantages for virtualizing and automating, as well as increasing visibility and ease-of-management of an enterprise organization’s network infrastructure, including its new web-based management application, which takes the “daunt” out of day-to-day operations and reporting.

Another way we’re making virtualization easier is through the Men & Mice virtual appliances, the DNS software for which we’ve upgraded to BIND 9.11, supporting various new features as well as DNSTAP. For example, details on DNS queries received and DNS replies sent by the Men & Mice virtual appliances can now be logged for further processing by enabling and utilizing the powerful DNSTAP feature with minimal performance impact on the appliances. They can also function as NTP (Network Time Protocol) servers and be served by the same network infrastructure as DNS and DHCP.

men_mice_hybrid network managementPrivate, Hybrid, and Public Clouds

Every cloud vendor is different. Different platforms and configurations offer different advantages (and drawbacks) for customers. They also offer very different, and often incompatible APIs. Men & Mice Suite v9.1 services complex enterprise hybrid and multi-cloud networks by providing single-pane-of-glass visibility and cross-platform functionality for DNS, DHCP and IPAM (DDI) operations, whose networks use either multiple cloud (cloud native) vendors or a combination of on-prem and cloud (hybrid).

The ability to bulk migrate DNS zones and DHCP scopes, ability to implement role-based authorizations, as well as providing 3 management interfaces (Windows-based management console, web-based management application and REST, SOAP and JSON-RPC APIs), the Men & Mice Suite v9.1 overlay software solution eliminates many of the complexities of today's large-scale networks while mitigating DNS failures such as configuration errors and DDoS attacks.

Further, Men & Mice Suite's xDNS Redundancy provides a level of abstraction that builds automation, provides centralized views, eliminates human error and removes conflicting DNS service provider platform complexities (e.g. incompatible APIs).

The Men & Mice Suite v9.1 also allows organizations to add Active Directory zones to xDNS groups. This, tied with the read-only members of xDNS groups, makes it easy for organizations to bring their internal, on-premises DNS into their virtual private clouds, and vice versa.

Cloud operations monitoring, a topic to which we’re looking greatly forward discussing at VMworld, is transparent and easy in the Men & Mice Suite v9.1. Not only have we integrated true cloud DNS into the Men & Mice Suite, but we also paid attention to the cloud-unique challenges it brings with it.

Can’t make it? No worries!

You can book an appointment to meet our team onsite at VMWorld (Booth #2124).

Or, if you’re missing the event, book a walk-thru any time by clicking the button below.

We’re always happy showcase the benefits of deploying our best-in-class overlay management solution on top of your network.

Book appointment

DNS, DHCP & IPAM Software Trial

Topics: "cloud dns", hybrid cloud, networking best practices, IP address management, DDoS, VMware, API, Redundant DNS, DNS redundancy, hybrid network, DHCP, DNS, Men & Mice, DDI

Network virtualization with visibility and automation of DNS, DHCP and IPAM

Posted by Greg Fazekas on 7/16/18 8:45 AM

The Men & Mice Suite version 9.1, released last week, introduced several new features and improved functionality for hybrid and multi-cloud networks. One of the additions we developed in our mission to change the way the world sees networks is a cross-platform, easy-to-use web-based management application.

Seamless integration

We intend the web-based management application for the Men & Mice Suite to be the go-to interface for the most common tasks. In the future, it will also serve as the central platform for our innovations across DNS, DHCP and IPAM (DDI). We're highly focused on developing an increasing number of partnerships to make integration across services and vendors even more seamless.

Day-to-day DDI operations made simple


With three major sections — DNS, Networks, and Reporting — the Men & Mice web-based management application is organized around operational efficiency.

Where the existing Windows-based management console of the Men & Mice Suite gives you the full range of configuration and management options for your networks, the web-based management application focuses on day-to-day tasks, such as finding and working with DNS zones or records, IP address ranges, DHCP scopes and IP addresses. You may want to use the full Men & Mice Suite application for the yearly inspection or the large restructuring of your networks, but can quickly get things done from anywhere, on any device, with the web application.

Quick Commands: lightning-fast, best-in-class user experience

men_and_mice_quick_command

Another way the web-based management application helps to efficiently manage networks is through its Quick Commands feature.

If you ever used the Spotlight functionality in MacOS or the universal search bar in other platforms or services, you know how a deceptively simple function can save incredible amounts of time. The Quick Command feature interacts with a single click or key combination (ctrl+space) and uses auto-complete to arrive at the needed information or function in just a few keystrokes. 

We’ll continue to focus on and add functionality to Quick Commands in future releases. As it gets smarter, so to will your network management get easier.

Visit the Men & Mice Suite web-based management console guide for more information on its capabilities and full functionality.

Virtualization and automation 

In addition to our virtual DNS/DHCP appliances and Virtual DNS Caching appliances, in a larger context of network management, the v9.1 release of the Men & Mice Suite continues to forge its path towards greater network virtualization and automation. The Men & Mice Suite restores and significantly improves the unified network visibility usually forfeited in the process of virtualization, intuitively pulling data from critical network components and consolidating it in an easy-to-use UI with extensive centralized control and functionality.

The Men & Mice Suite offers unrivalled integration with Microsoft Active Directory Sites and Subnets, combined with real-time synchronization across diverse server environments and distributed virtual and physical locations.

The comprehensive built-in tracking and logging tools ensure the systematic keeping of records. It's important to know who made what change, when, where, and why. Transparency takes the sting out of the fast and dynamic change procedures that are the hallmarks of virtualized environments.

Access management is granular and fully integrated with Active Directory. Role-based access provides strong, centralized control and delegation. Different IT teams experience painless cooperation and efficiency, respecting the often hazy task boundaries created by the transformation from physical machines to virtual instances.

The Men & Mice roadshow continues!

men&mice_vmworld_Booth #2124

What we do at Men & Mice is help companies with large, complex network infrastructure automate and virtualize their networks. We also believe in the value of other forms of networking-- meeting customers and future customers in person.

We’ll be exhibiting at VMworld in Las Vegas August 26-30, to showcase the Men & Mice Suite at booth# 2124.  We'll report in on our social media and on this blog — hope to see you either there!

Topics: hybrid cloud, hybrid network, IP address management, External DNS, VMware, vmworld, DNS, DHCP, Men & Mice, DDI

Men & Mice Suite 9.1: cloud-ready network management for DNS, DHCP and IPAM

Posted by Men & Mice on 7/11/18 7:47 AM

Changing the way the world sees LI

Our commitment to efficient network management has a new number! The Men & Mice Suite 9.1 is a feature release with a host of cloud-ready enhancements plus the usual suspects (bug fixes and improvements).  

Network Management just got easier

Transparency, responsiveness, and ease-of-use are all core principles of Men & Mice for keeping networks healthy and safe from DDoS attacks and other DNS network failures.

The 9.1 release continues our mission to simplify network management without sacrificing features. Included in Men & Mice Suite v9.1:

  • A new web-based Men & Mice Suite management application
  • Optimized and enhanced cloud support
  • Improved xDNS Redundancy read-only zones for hybrid and multi-cloud networks
  • DNS software on appliances upgraded to BIND 9.11 with DNSTAP support
  • NTP functionality for virtual appliances
  • Various improvements and bug fixes

5 Things You’ll Love About Men & Mice Suite v9.1

Men & Mice Suite v9.1 focuses on features and refinements gleaned from customer feedback and engagement as well as refinements of previously introduced functionality. Here's what you will find in the new release: 

Web-based management application

The new web-based management application serves as an alternative to the Men & Mice Suite Windows-based management console. It’s designed to make performing day-to-day tasks, management functions and generating reports related to DNS and DHCP operations easier. The application features three sections: DNS, Networks and Reporting.

  • The DNS section makes all your DNS zones accessible from a single place.
  • The Networks section gives you instant access and overview of your networks.
  • Reporting lets you quickly find and run existing reports.

men_and_mice_quick_command-1

Its Quick Command functionality cuts down time on common tasks such as finding and working with DNS zones or records, IP address ranges, DHCP scopes and IP addresses.

Read-only zones in xDNS Redundancy groups

xDNS Redundancy, which can be used to synchronize DNS zones hosted with multiple cloud providers, now includes support for Active Directory-hosted zones. Zones in a redundancy group can be assigned to read-only mode, so that changes made to a DNS zone outside of the Men & Mice Suite will not be replicated to all other zone instances.

Optimized and enhanced Cloud support


Version 9.1 streamlines the migration and management of a large number of DNS zones with Azure DNS and Amazon Route 53 by utilizing cloud-native features to monitor changes to DNS made outside of the Men & Mice Suite, greatly improving synchronization of DNS data from the cloud providers.

Men & Mice virtual appliances upgraded to BIND 9.11 with 

DNSTAP support

DNS software on Men & Mice virtual appliances has been upgraded to BIND 9.11, which supports various new features as well as DNSTAP. Details on DNS queries received and DNS replies sent by the Men & Mice virtual appliances can now be logged for further processing by enabling and utilizing the powerful DNSTAP feature with minimal performance impact on the appliances.

NTP functionality for virtual appliances

The virtual appliances can also now function as NTP (Network Time Protocol) servers and be served by the same network infrastructure as DNS and DHCP.  Currently this functionality is manual and can be implemented per request with our support team. 

Nearly 30 years of DNS experience in one solution

The Men & Mice Suite v9.1 represents our commitment to enabling customers to adapt their infrastructure to be more software-enabled, cloud-ready and redundant, with increased visibility, control, security and automation.” --Magnús Björnsson, CEO of Men & Mice.

Complex enterprise network infrastructure can — and should — have the same elegant simplicity and responsiveness as IT professionals expect from customer-grade solutions. In the new release, Men & Mice has combined its nearly 30 years of expertise in developing DNS, DHCP and IPAM solutions with modern UX best practices to deliver a compelling, enjoyable management interface on top of a best-in-class, robust software-based DDI product.  

 If you want to try Men & Mice Suite v9.1 for free just click the button below. 

DNS, DHCP & IPAM Software Trial

Not ready? Read more about the Men & Mice Suite, or get an online demo.

DNS, DHCP and IPAM Demo

Topics: hybrid cloud, hybrid network, IP address management, DDoS, Redundant DNS, DHCP, IPAM, DNS, "cloud dns"

Network Outages, Human Error and What You Can Do About It

Posted by Men & Mice on 12/18/17 7:14 PM

When your route leaks 

Human error. As far as mainstream reporting on network outages goes, it’s the less flamboyant sidekick to DDoS and other cyber attacks. But in terms of consequences, it’s just as effective.

Once again, beginning of November, large parts of the US found themselves unable to access the internet due to one small error: a misconfiguration at Level 3, an ISP (Internet Service Provider) that underpins other, bigger networks.

According to reports the outage was the result of what is known as a “route leak”. In short, a route leak occurs when internet traffic is routed into inefficient, or simply wrong, directions due to incorrect information provided by one, or multiple, Autonomous Systems (ASes). ASes are generally used by ISPs to keep track of IP addresses and their network locations. Packets of data are routed between ASes, which use the Border Gateway Patrol (BGP) to establish and communicate the most efficient routes so you can browse the whole internet, and not just the IP addresses on your particular ISPs network.

Route leaks can be malicious, in which case they’re referred to as “route hijacks” or “BGP hijacks”. But in this case, it seems the cause of the outage was nothing more spectacular than a simple employee blunder, when (as speculation goes) a Level 3/Century Link engineer made a policy change which was, in error, implemented to a single router while trying to configure an individual customer BGP. This particular incident constitutes what the IETF defines as a Type 6 route leak,  generally occurring when “an offending AS simply leaks its internal prefixes to one or more of its transit-provider ASes and/or ISP peers.”

Route leaks, small and large, are regular occurrences – it’s part and parcel of the internet’s dependency on the basic BGP routing protocol, which is known to be insecure. Other recent high impact route leaks include the so-called Google/Hathway leak in March 2015 and a misconfiguration at Telekom Malaysia in June 2015 which had a debilitating roll-on effect around the world.

To minimize the possibility of route leaks, ISPs use route filters that are supposed to catch any problems with the IP routes that peers and customers intend to use for the sending and receiving of packets of data.

Other ways of combating route leaks include origin validation, NTT’s peer locking and commercial solutions. Additionally, the IETF is in the process of drafting proposals on route leaks.

Factoring in the human element

Tools and solutions aside, Level 3’s unfortunate misconfiguration once again highlights the fact that, despite keeping a low profile in the news, human error still rules when it comes to causing common network outages.

In an industry focused on how to design, build and maintain machines and systems that enable interconnected entities to send and receive millions of packets of data efficiently every second of every day, it’s maybe not all that odd that the humans behind all of this activity become of secondary importance. Though, as technology advances and systems become more automated, small human errors such as misconfiguring a server prefix are likely to have ever larger knock-on effects. At increasing rates, such incidents will roll out like digital tsunamis across oceans, instead of only flooding a couple of small, inflatable IP pools in your backyard.

Boost IT best practices - focus on humans

So outside of general IT best practices, what can you do to help the humans on your team to avoid human error?

Just as with any network, human interaction is based on established relationships. And just as in any network, a weak link, or a breakdown in the lines of communication, can lead to an outage. Humans who have to operate in an atmosphere of unclear instructions, tasks, responsibilities and communication, can become ineffective and anxious. This eats away at employee morale and workflow efficiency and lays the groundwork for institutional inertia and the stalling of progress. At other times, a lack of defined task-setting and clear boundaries may resort to employees showing initiative in the wrong places and at the wrong times.

To limit outages due to human error, just distributing a general set of best practices or relying on informally communicated guidelines amongst staff are simply not enough. While networking best practices always apply, the following four steps can be very effective in establishing the kind of human relationships needed to strengthen your network and optimize network availability.

 

Define DDI-1.png

1. Define

Draw up, and keep updated, a diagram not only of your network architecture (you do have one, don’t you?), but also make sure you have a workflow diagram for your teams: who is tasked with which responsibility and where does their action fit into the overall process? What are the expected outcomes? And what alternative plans and processes are in place if something goes awry? Most importantly, match tasks and responsibilities with well-defined role-based access management.

2. Communicate

Does everyone on your team, and collaborating teams, know who is responsible for what, when and where, and how the processes flow? Is this information centrally accessible and kept up to date? Clarity, structure and effective communication empower your team members to accept responsibility and show initiative within bounds.

3. Train

Does everyone on your team know what’s expected of them, and did they receive appropriate training to complete their assignments properly and responsibly? Do they have the appropriate resources available to do what they need to do efficiently? Without training and tools in place, unintentional accidents are simply so much more likely to occur.

4. Refresh

Don’t wait until team members run into trouble or run out of steam. Check in with each other regularly, and encourage a culture of knowledge sharing where individuals with different skill sets can have ample opportunity to develop new skills and understanding.

Refresh DDI.png

Finally

The saying goes, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The same goes for networks.

At a time in history when we have more technological checks and balances available than ever before, it turns out the weakest networking link is, too often, a human. While we’re running systems for humans by humans, we may as well put in the extra effort to help humans do what they do, better. Our networking systems will be so much stronger for it.

 

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Topics: DDI, DDoS, network outages, IT best practices, IP address management

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