The Business Costs of Manual Network Management Processes and Network Downtime

Tuesday May 18, 2021

Each year, network downtime and manual network management processes result in considerable losses to enterprises in all sectors. In some industries, such as healthcare, these costs can even introduce immediate physical danger to people. However, you can eliminate these risks by automating network management tasks and implementing a Network Source of Truth (NSOT) as the starting point for your network automation journey.

Why Downtime Matters

Industries like health care and utilities provision and deliver critical services to consumers and businesses. For enterprises, stable networks and application availability can be mission-critical. However, in health care, a disruption to network operations could mean the difference between life and death.

The Burden Of Manual Network Management

Traditionally, network management consists of five major elements, denoted by FCAPS:

  1. 1. Fault management
  2. 2. Configuration management
  3. 3. Account management
  4. 4. Performance management
  5. 5. Security management

Traditionally many organizations have relied on manual methods, using spreadsheets, to track network and VLAN assignments. Achieving complete network visibility and monitoring in this manner typically requires a large number of skilled personnel. In turn, these manual methods impose burdens of labor costs and skills acquisition on the enterprise.

Calculating the Cost of Manual Network Management Processes and Downtime

Manual network management processes can consume dozens of engineering person-years annually at large enterprises. At an annual cost of USD 75,000 per engineer, the price of a single dozen such years to the enterprise is USD 900,000. Such inefficiencies take a severe toll on the organization’s bottom line.

As an illustration, let’s say an organization invests USD 25 million in automation, with an anticipated ROI of 20% dropping to 15%. Due to manual steps in network management lacking automation, the loss in Return on Investment (ROI) comes to USD 1,250,000 annually.

But perhaps even more importantly, network downtime presents a more significant threat. Let’s assume 10,000 networks and an average of 1 minute of unplanned downtime per network each year. The yearly cost of downtime and service disruptions, in this case, comes to USD 27,440,000.

According to a recent analysis, organizations in 2020 lost around USD 600,000 for each brownout or random drop in the network quality. Downtime and performance drops affect revenue and Operating Expense (OPEX) costs.

From a qualitative standpoint, employee productivity and operational efficiency also suffer. For example, lapses in service delivery or application availability due to network downtime can damage a company’s reputation. The actions and social media comments of disgruntled users or consumers may lead to further financial losses for the organization.

Why Network Automation and a Network Source of Truth Is the Solution

Top research firm Gartner, Inc. recommends automating all manual network tasks performed more often than four times per year. Network administrators should also boost agility by investing in network automation tools. Organizations should take a unified approach to IT and network management when coping with Digital Transformation and emerging network technologies such as 5G.

Manual network management processes are the leading causes of human error that lead to outages and downtime. They also leave network analysts vulnerable to cyber-attacks such as social engineering and phishing tactics. The automation of management tasks can avoid these errors and their attendant risks.

Many organizations now have critical services that rely on leading technology. Some might have a business infrastructure based on more traditional on-premises technology solutions. Some may need to run workloads both in private data centers and in public clouds. Others might depend on container-based application deployment models or edge cloud extensions.

A comprehensive network automation solution will integrate your on-premise infrastructure, public cloud, edge, and containers. This solution will enable management through a single pane of glass for all the different elements of your advanced enterprise network.

With FusionLayer, you’ll have a network source of truth, enabling your organization to manage all aspects of your infrastructure and services in a single unified system. FusionLayer facilitates automatic provisioning of subnets, IPs, VLANs, and resolvable DNS names for your containers and virtual workloads. This solution empowers you with visibility and control -- avoiding the dangers of manual processes and downtime.

By Juha Holkkola, Co-Founder and Chief Technologist at FusionLayer Inc.Juha Holkkola is the Co-Founder and Chief Technologist at FusionLayer Inc. An inventor with several patents in the US and Europe, he is an advocate of technology concepts with tangible operational impact. Juha is an active proponent of emerging technology trends such as cloud computing, hybrid IT and network functions virtualization, and a regular speaker at various industry events.