12 ideas to help you get your network into shape this summer
Summer holidays? Maybe for some, but if you’re a network manager it’s time to get to work!
So how can we best utilise the longest period of downtime we get in the academic calendar? Here are some ideas for improving your network while you are student-free.
Update your operating system
Summer allows you time to make that update to Windows 8.1, including enough time for testing, tweaking and deployment.
Re-image your PCs
A year is a long time in Windows Update world. Use this time to either update or create a new image that includes the new Windows Updates, together with all the critical patches. You can also update any of the other software you may have on the base image.
Update application packages
As above, many applications will be updated throughout the year. If you deploy your applications separately to your device images, make sure the packages you are deploying contain the newest versions of the software. (Application Manager can make this much easier)
Depending on your circumstances you may have upwards of 200 people leaving your system, and you don’t want that data sitting there if it’s not needed. Back it up in accordance with your requirements and take it off the live system. The same can apply to email inboxes no longer used.
Add new users
Conversely, you may also have up to 200 users coming into the school. Best to get ready as early as possible and install all these users. If you don’t have a user management system that propagates your users to other systems (MIS, Print, Cashless Catering, Library etc.), ensure that they exist on all systems. (User Manager is a powerful tool that can help with this)
Tidy up the server room and edge cabinets
Over a year there is always some kind of event that will require you to pull a cable from one place and link it to another. One leads to another and then you make the dreaded leap into patching out of the door of one cab and into another! Use the summer to re-patch, colour code and neaten your cabs. You could even go after the holy grail of matching cable point 1 with port 1 in the switch etc., if you’ve got plenty to time to spare!
Update your infrastructure
Summer is the best time to patch all your servers (virtual and physical), and ensure they are up to date with the latest versions. Ensure your switches have the latest versions of firmware and take the time to sit in front of their logs to see if any area of the network is producing more traffic than it should – an alert for trouble especially if no one is using the system.
Do a Wi-Fi plan
Check your Wi-Fi is up to speed and do a blanket survey. (Find out more about wireless mapping here)
Manage your assets
Can you honestly say that you know exactly what kit you have in your school? Now’s the time to go out there and account for it. Label it, record it and use this data to plan for the future. You will be amazed at how many old devices you find you didn’t even know about! (Auto detection will make this task much simpler!)
Trial new systems
Try out Office 365 or Google Apps, try a new way of deploying PCs, or applications. Dabble with different server, desktop or application virtualisation technologies and see if there is anything out there that will improve what you currently have. Magellan from CSE offers a revolutionary way of delivering apps and data – sign up for a free trial here.
Use the network
Sounds obvious, but how often do you experience the network as an end user? Check all your apps work, make sure there are no old links and shortcuts that have long since gone but are still visible to the end user.
Try and break it
Use the network and try to hack in – better you than someone else! See if your security is as good as you hope it is, and if not, at least you know where to fix it.
When you put your mind to it, there are lots of things that you can do to take advantage of the drop in usage that comes with the summer holiday. Doing all the above will help your users’ perception of the system and it will help you manage it better, even if by the end of it you’re just looking forward to term time again…!
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