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Seeking - Idiots Guide to managing a Networking division

By and? ·
Where do I start... My resposibiity is to manage IT Service Delivery for some of our key Clients.
The situation is that our Clients experience major performance issues amongst others - and our networking division can never solve the problem. Each time we've gone back to our Clients with "solutions" - the problem re-occurs the next day - and we never really find a root cause. The division is lacking in senior level skills and severely under resourced - never mind ineffective leadership. My question is this - is there a dummy guide on simple best practice that can be followed in managing a networking division ? Something that gives an outline on simple things like resource planing - how many human resources is best practice per networking device or server , how to build an effetive Success/Failure rate model, how to do a comprehensive risk analysis per device. I'm not in the division - but feel that we need some sort of guideline to cross check against - so that we can see what we don't have - and compensate accordingly.

It's a strange scenario I know - given it's 2005 and the so called Leaders of the division should have this stuff. But quite evidently they don't.

If anyone can help - much appreciated.

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Seeking Idiots...

by Rogue Leader In reply to Seeking - Idiots Guide to ...

Wow! There's a lot of questions here, and whole world of hurt just begging to be let in.

It seems to me that you're on the right track - you're asking questions and looking for something to fill that gap.

I have to disappoint you, though. You're not going to find it all in one place, and you'll not find an "Idiot's Guide" for any of this stuff.

Most of what you're asking comes down to simple experience - IMHO what you really need is someone who has been there and done it, if you know what I mean. That's the simplest option. Or, you can do what I did, and get out on the 'Net and dig around until you come up with four or five different answers. Then you amalgamate them all into something that looks like it's going to work - and you try it.

Another thing - don't let the technology get in the way. A lot of problems can be handled by non-technical simple business principles and leadership. You don't need a degree in marine engineering to know when a ship is sinking! Use your common sense.

For example - you ask about human resources per server/networking device - well - that depends on what exactly you're doing with it, what it's specifications are and what your network is like.
For my workplace, I know that our SQL Server is capable of handling another 200 or so users, but that our network infrastructure will break before we get to that. I also know that if we get another 200 users, I'll need another one maybe two support staff. (Gartner are a good place took for HR stats - eg you need roughly 1 support guy/gal for every 150 users - but you modify that depending on what environment you're in and the level of sophistication of the users..etc). A lot of this information can be found by spending some time researching on the internet.

Teh final suggestion I have is not to be taken lightly. It's almost an admission of failure, but sometimes you just have to do it, because there are simply no other options left. You call in a consultant. Don't go for one of the expensive, big guys - like IBM or people of that size - they'll fleece you rigid. Find a smaller systems house type that deals with the technologies you use and that have the accreditations with the manufacturers/suppliers - Cisco partners, Microsoft Gold partners etc. Talk to them beforehand and make sure you're sure that they know what they're doing - test them even!

I hope this helps, even if it's not an idiot's guide...

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He's right ....

by DaedalusMgmt In reply to Seeking Idiots...

I would have to agree with Rogue here .. it's just not that simple.

Server loading, network loading, etc are all things an experienced network engineer could determine for you in your environment. So much depends on what applications you run, how they are used, the amounts of data they generate, and a myriad of other factors that you'll need an experienced professional to get to the heart of the matter. Many times, once these things are identified, the source of the performance issue can be found fairly quickly. Actually fixing the problem may take longer, but you'd at least know where the problem was :)

As for Rogue's point on support resources-to-users ratio, I'd have to look at those again. Last time I saw Gartner numbers for support staff in a Windows environment, it was like 1 staff per 50 users, not 150. But I'll take his word for it until I can check for myself :)

When choosing a consultant, try to find one that isn't trying to sell you something else at the same time. Just a personal opinion here but a Cisco or Microsoft partner that says "oh, you need 2 new servers and a high-end Layer 3 switch to fix the problem ... and oh by the way, I'm having special on those this week only" is amazingly suspect in my book. If at all possible, find a services-only consultant to tell you straight up what the issue is and how to fix it and lets you make up your own mind when and where to buy any needed gear.

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