How to Safeguard Your Network, Reduce OPEX & Save Your Company Jobs During the COVID-19 Outbreak?
While parents struggle to find childcare amid massive school shutdowns and workers venture into the work from home world, network administrators are facing a different struggle. How will their networks maintain uptime goals during this unprecedented challenge? Many support centers are decreasing engineers, and logistic support has slowed – making it more difficult to access spares, recruit field engineer expertise, and achieve restoration through technical assistance centers (TAC).
Here are a few tips to save your network during the coronavirus shutdown:
If it's not broke, don't fix it.
First and foremost, implement a change freeze. Most maintenance updates, migrations, and policy changes can and should wait until business gets back to "normal." Avoid adding new users or topology changes unless you have physical spares on-site.
But, if you have to fix it…
Only address vulnerability and security issues and not functional shortfalls.
If a software update is necessary to address a significant security or vulnerability threat, secure on-site spares before beginning the update, to address functional issues, look for workarounds instead of fixes.
Often workarounds do not require major reconfiguration or devices to power down and are less likely to cause an outage. In most cases, the workaround is less efficient but just as effective. Use workarounds as a stop gap until reliability within the support infrastructure is restored.
Get to know your service provider's disaster relief guidelines.
The COVID-19 shutdowns have created unreliability in staffing and sparing as workers test positive, and companies elect to shutdown physical support centers. Even if your contract guarantees 4-hour sparing, it likely includes a force majeure clause, which lets providers off the hook due to unforeseeable circumstances – such as a viral pandemic.
Know your coverage limits and exceptions, and start creating mitigation plans, such as increasing on-site spares.
If possible, postpone refreshes.
Not only is supply likely to be an issue, but access to experienced, certified engineers will be limited. Rarely does a refresh go off without a hitch, so diving into a major overhaul without reliable backup is risky, to say the least.
If postponing, confirm that bridge technical support and service is available for a limited contract. Only buy what you need. Avoid signing up for a full year of support that covers software and updates. Instead, focus on the bare minimum required to get through the next few months.
How Arch is Stepping Up
As support bandwidth becomes a limitation for most providers, the team at Arch continues to lead the industry in ensuring client uptime and drastically minimizing the possibility of interruptions of service
For starters, we have already decreased the radius of our sparing depots. All of our contracted, 4-hour replacement clients now have a depot site that is within two hours of the facility vs the previous standard of four hours. Raising sensitivity around potential logistic interruptions allows us to continue to meet the requirements of our contracts even as major metropolitan areas are quarantined. This approach has the added benefit of increasing the number of spares in a given area.
We have also been in contact with clients that operate critical equipment to make on-site spares available where spacing allows and are ensuring that field engineers are strategically located within the same zip codes as our clients.
Finally, our standard operating requirements have always ensured a significant buffer of engineers to tickets. While TAC engineers at most facilities average 50 to 80 tickets a day, at Arch, we staff our TAC with highly certified engineers that typically handle no more than 15 tickets a day. Under normal circumstances, this depth allows engineers the time to follow cases through resolution and restoration. In times of increased need, our capacity stays within the range of client demands and enables us to bring timely resolution and service restoration.
The Long Game
The business impact of the COVID-19 is likely to extend far beyond temporary shutdowns, limited service availability, and logistic delays. The economic implications of combatting the virus through social distancing, closures, and quarantines combined with the general unpredictability of COVID-19 has rattled markets and led forecasters to predict a 1.5% hit to the 2020 GDP.
As gross revenue and profit decreases, the pressure to reduce spending increases. A fresh look at SLA spending could save your organization hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2020 while ensuring better support, service, and preparedness. At Arch we are more than technical support, we are your operations and business continuity partner.
The current global state has revealed that many organizations are not properly prepared for dramatic and sudden shifts to everyday operations. On the backside of COVID-19, companies will assess internal policies and procedures but also re-evaluate support contracts and vendors. Every aspect of the business will be scrutinized for its ability to handle the next unforeseen event. A cornerstone of the Arch philosophy is providing the best, individualized solution. Arch agreements are tailored to meet client needs and are not mandated or limited by OEM schedules, making us a critical component of our clients’ risk management strategies.
In times of market uncertainty, it is natural for organizations to look inward and analyze where they can save money. The immediate inclination is to look at noncritical projects and headcount. Operation spend that is considered critical or essential is never immediately questioned. From a network infrastructure perspective this means that existing contracts with vendors or OEMS are not necessarily scrutinized because they are considered essential to the support structure. Unfortunately, what this means is that an organization is actually at risk of continuing to spend too much unnecessarily with a vendor resulting in a decision to look elsewhere, like employee reduction. We are not talking about favorable payment terms with the vendor, we are actually speaking directly at spending too much for your service and support resulting in making the incorrect and difficult decision to eliminate a job position. For example if you are spending $100,000 with a vendor and were unaware of an option to receive the same if not better support at 70% of the cost, a portion of that savings could be used to retain strong talent and shore up the organization during uncertain times.
The experts at Arch are here to help you navigate the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak – both immediate and future. Contact us today to learn how we can provide your network with the support it needs at a cost that delivers company-wide benefits.
Topics: IT Maintenance