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'Work from Anywhere': IT Lessons Learned

 

By Paul Davenport, AppNeta

Since the start of the pandemic, troubleshooting last-mile and general WFH performance issues has become a monster task for enterprise IT teams, who in the past had mostly managed performance across commercial-grade connections that they largely controlled.

Along with the very real performance roadblocks and bottlenecks along the network path that could impact end-user experience in a work-from-anywhere environment, there are just as many trivial mistakes causing network blackouts that are very much in the end-user's control.

Here's one example: As many families can relate, it's been a full house for one member of our team-an Advanced Technologies team leader based out of Vancouver, British Columbia-whose son-in-law lives in the basement and recently began regularly complaining about Internet performance.

As a company that sells a network performance monitoring solution geared to WFH, we deploy our own native Workstation monitoring technologies out to user devices so that we could both keep tabs on the efficacy of our own network connections while constantly testing/improving our solution internally. As an engineer, this particular employee also had a traditional enterprise monitoring point that monitored network performance for the entire household.

Our team member looked at their network performance into and out of their Monitoring Point and all appeared OK; our performance dashboards clocked some standard jitter, latency, and data loss over a period of roughly 2 hours, but nothing that would indicate network blackouts to the entire household.

Next, our team member set up monitoring from his son-in-law's wireless laptop and saw terrible performance across the board Once our team member was able to isolate the performance issues to a specific IP target, he went and checked the router only to find one of the three antennas was loose by one full turn. 

After tightening the antennae and checking AppNeta's performance dashboard, performance immediately went up.

This example dovetails with a larger trend we're hearing from customers that enterprise IT teams are now being leveraged as an educational resource for navigating at-home performance issues. For many enterprise IT, this is a serious time drain on at least two fronts.

For starters, enterprise IT teams historically manage commercial-grade connectivity between headquarters and remote or branch offices. As a result, residential connections are one of at least four new error domains that enterprise IT teams now have to gain visibility into to get to the root of performance issues in a WFH setting, which include:

  • Home environment (Are they wireless? Are they wired? Are there other people working in the household? Is there remote education as well?)
  • User's Last-mile ISP (or enterprise ISP in that case)
  • Whatever the mid-path is (ie. Comcast peers with Level 3 -- is it there?)
  • The cloud-based environment or the enterprise infrastructure

Not only does this new environment multiply the footprint for potential error, but providing this educational resource on best practices for WFH connectivity is stretching IT even thinner at a time when their scope has never been wider.

For instance, users may have too many devices running, multiple people competing for resources, or they may even be experiencing the limitations of stealing a neighbors WiFi. This last example was the root cause of another real-life customer struggle, as one customer wrestled with understanding chronic performance issues out to a remote user who failed to own-up from the get-go that they weren't leveraging their own residential WiFi resources, but a shared connection provided by their neighbor that was prone to major capacity swings.

Lessons are still being learned every day about how to contend with our new work-from-anywhere reality and all the potential mishaps that can derail end-user experience in an instant. But as users continue to get comfortable with their new work settings, they will increasingly expect better performance of apps and networks from wherever they log onto the network, calling for a more agile and scalable enterprise IT going forward.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Davenport 

Paul Davenport is AppNeta's Marketing Communications Manager. Paul has a background in tech journalism, content marketing and public relations in the B2B space, with a focus on cloud, cybersecurity and networking technologies. He studied Print & Multimedia Journalism at Emerson College.

Published Thursday, February 18, 2021 11:23 AM by David Marshall
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