There are a few key challenges with respect to troubleshooting your remote site networks. The primary one being the profile of your on-site personnel. Lack of expertise at remote sites often results in travel by senior IT staff to gain the visibility needed to identify the root causes of problems. But, of course, travel is not an option in many cases. Your evaluation of the on-site support situation will guide you in creating a plan and strategy. Ask yourself these key questions: Is there any IT staff on-site? What is their expertise level? What is the criticality of that site?
During the first part of this tech tip, we highlighted how automated testing can help simplify remote troubleshooting by improving workflows and removing the need for local expertise, and on the second part, we highlighted the importance of having the ability to run advanced diagnostics. This third and last step describes how to improve team collaboration.
Step 3: Collaboration
Simply stated for the purpose of this discussion, collaboration is focused on improving the workflow and information exchange between personnel on remote sites and network professionals for the purpose of resolving problems faster as well as managing adds, moves and changes more efficiently.
- Have a centralized results database for both wired and Wi-Fi results that houses data that cross-functional teams can reference for the job at hand
- Allow network professionals to troubleshoot wired and Wi-Fi issues remotely using tools located at the remote site
- Allow network professionals to see the physical environment remote personnel is working in, using tools located at the remote site
- Simple in-line packet capture for solving more in-depth problems
Now let’s dive into these considerations in more detail to help you realize new ways of tackling problems you may not realize is right at your fingertips.
Centralized Results Database — A centralized results database for both wired and Wi-Fi results will allow cross-functional teams to reference a single source of results data to enable better understanding and discussion of test results. This comprehensive, searchable database allows you to easily identify changes in the network and see who is testing what, when and where.
There is no space limit, no time limit, and no need to retrieve and transfer data from testing devices to storage at the end of the day. Link-Live is available to the following NetAlly tools: Aircheck G2, EtherScope nXG, LinkRunner AT, LinkRunner G2, and LinkSprinter. If you don’t have connectivity, the testers can buffer results, which are pushed to the Link-Live Cloud Service when connectivity returns.
Remote Interface — While it’s not always possible to get someone with the right skill level to solve a problem at the location where the issue is occurring, the AirCheck G2, EtherScope nXG, and LinkRunner G2 can be accessed and controlled remotely. Not only can the remote user see what local personnel is seeing, but they can control the tester to perform remote troubleshooting. This also serves as a way to enable remote personnel as they watch how network professionals use the tools to identify issues and solve problems.
Camera — Use the integrated webcam on the EtherScope nXG or LinkRunner G2 and the remote helper can see live video of the physical environment local personnel is working in. This is useful if the when in a wiring closet or a data center and the remote colleague needs to see the switch or patch panel, for example.
In-line Packet Capture — A trace file is crucial to have for very difficult problems or as evidence to provide to an outside group, such as application developers, service providers or equipment suppliers. Collecting this information typically requires reconfiguration of the switch or a network tap. This can take 30 minutes or more. Worse, many times local personnel may not have access to switch provisioning or a tap. That means even more delay as the problem is escalated to another individual.
Through the use of a third party solution like Profitap’s the EtherScope nXG can perform an inline packet capture in just a few screen touches without the need to access the switch or a tap. This means the technician can capture the problem packets immediately while the user demonstrates the problem.