A significant portion of companies have vulnerabilities in their network management practices. These vulnerabilities include a lack of network visibility, configuration backups, proactive network planning, and up-to-date documentation.

Despite these vulnerabilities, the majority of IT pros report high confidence in their networks, indicating a potential mismatch between perception and reality. The mismatch points to a huge blindspot risk: IT pros who are unaware of the weaknesses in their network management.

These insights come from the Network Field Report 2021, a new study from Auvik Networks that looks at how in-house IT administrators manage their networks, how knowledgeable and confident they are in their networks, which tasks occupy the majority of their time, and how often they outsource network-related tasks and functions.

Takeaway: Many IT pros aren’t very knowledgeable about the configuration of their organization’s network.

Although 43% of respondents know how all of their organization’s network is configured, almost a third know only some or nothing at all. These latter companies are at high risk for network downtime and troubleshooting that takes far too long. Even the 26% of IT pros who know how most of the network is configured have blind spots that could cause problems.

IT professionals from companies with fewer than 50 employees are particularly at risk of not understanding their network: Close to half say they know only some or nothing at all about how their network is configured.

Why does this matter?

It’s crucial that all IT pros who touch the network have detailed and up-to-date knowledge of everything on their organization’s network and how it’s configured. Armed with this knowledge, they can effectively and efficiently respond to network issues. Without it, they’re flying blind, surprised by issues that might have been prevented. Troubleshooting takes much longer, consumes more resources, and increases downtime risk and duration.

network knowledge graph - Network Field Report 2021
Credit: Auvik Networks

Takeaway: Most respondents have high or very high confidence that their network meets the needs of their business.

Fully 86% of IT pros have high or very high confidence in their organization’s network. Yet as we saw in the previous takeaway, almost a third of IT pros know nothing or very little about how their organization’s network is configured.

We can see that more than 75% of IT pros with no or little knowledge of their network configuration still report high or very high confidence in the networks they manage.

Why does this matter?

High confidence despite a lack of network knowledge and visibility could indicate massive blind spots for these companies.

network confidence chart - Network Field Report 2021
Credit: Auvik Networks

Takeaway: Only about a third of organizations back up their network device configurations daily or weekly.

Most organizations represented in this survey back up their network configurations monthly (29%), though only 20% back up weekly and 16% back up daily. Small organizations (1 to 10 employees and 1 IT employee) are the most likely group to never back up.

Why does this matter?

Backing up network device configurations is just as essential as updating network documentation. Companies that don’t have backups of their network device configurations are at higher risk for extended downtimes.

configuration backups graph - Network Field Report 2021
Credit: Auvik Networks

Takeaway: More than a quarter of organizations never or rarely update their network documentation.

Notably, 27% of organizations never or rarely (a few times per year or yearly) update their network documentation. Most organizations update their network documentation weekly (24%) or monthly (28%), while only 11% update daily.

Small organizations of 1 to 50 employees with only 1 IT employee are the most likely group to never update their network documentation.

Why does this matter?

Up-to-date network documentation is crucial for any organization, particularly those where network configuration changes are frequent.

network documentation graph - Network Field Report 2021
Credit: Auvik Networks

Other key findings

  • IT efficiency and productivity: IT pros are working fewer hours on reactive tasks than five years ago, but they still spend much of their time on tasks that could be easily automated, including documentation (58%), mapping (55%) and network configuration backup (61%).
  • Success measurement: Cost of IT overall is the main success metric, with 54% of IT pros saying they’re measured against it. In contrast, only 30% of IT pros are evaluated based on uptime/downtime percentage or number of closed tickets. Taken together, these findings could indicate that network stability is less of a focus for organizations than cost reductions.
  • Project engagement: More than half of an IT pro’s time is spent on projects they hate or tolerate. Nearly half say that “not enough time” is the primary reason for not doing the projects that interest them.
  • Network planning and research: Nearly half (41%) of organizations spend no time on network planning.

For more detail on these and other findings, download a free copy of the Network Field Report 2021.

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