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FEATURE TEST & MEASUREMENT


How to Save Money with Troubleshooting Devices Looking for Trouble By Andrew Lane, European Marketing Manager, Ideal Industries Networks


With more and more companies being heavily reliant on Ethernet, network professionals are tasked with minimising downtime by identifying and repairing problems as quickly as possible. Andrew Lane discusses the benefits that network troubleshooting devices


offer, and explains the key things to look out for when selecting a product.


Ethernet protocol has been widely used in office environments for a number of years, and has more recently found its way into industrial and public sector applications. Ethernet is the dominant protocol in the workplace; it connects all kinds of equipment, from PCs to phones, machinery, security and building management systems. A significant number of businesses


and organisations are therefore completely reliant on their Ethernet networks. Slow performance and network faults have a direct impact on efficiency and productivity, in turn affecting the bottom line. Of course, non-productive


downtime has always been an issue for any business, but as economically challenging times continue, it has the potential to be even more damaging. For today’s office worker, network failures can make it impossible to work. For a factory manager, they can be catastrophic and can shut production down. In each of these situations, network issues will cost the business money. As Ethernet is a key element of


modern security systems, which might include IP CCTV cameras and access control, network failures can have other critical implications too.


IT happens


Any user of Ethernet has to accept that there will inevitably be network issues from time to time, especially when 100MB Ethernet is being used, which requires good connections and cabling. In terms of the potential issues,


devices might fail to connect to other devices. There can be IP address conflicts, PoE and VoIP devices might not work properly, servers can go down and of course, the network can run slowly. PC users can also cause issues. For


example, someone might add a rogue device like a printer to the network without the IT administrator’s knowledge, or an employee might be slowing the system down by downloading a large amount of data. Passive cabling problems will always


pose a big risk. Two very common problems affecting data transmissions


32 NETCOMMS europe Volume II, Issue 1 2011


Today’s troubleshooting devices should have ‘touch and test’ capabilities, and the user shouldn’t need to consult a lengthy instruction manual.


www.netcommseurope.com


are damaged cables and disorganised, untidy patch panels. When such issues arise, they are


a matter of urgency. Since there is such a heavy reliance on Ethernet, network professionals will find themselves under a lot of pressure from their customers to resolve problems immediately. Since network issues will invariably


occur, and network professionals will often be called in to identify and rectify them, it makes sound commercial sense for them to invest in a purpose-designed, troubleshooting tool to save time and money. With higher productivity, higher


profitability and customer satisfaction achieved, this is a relatively small outlay. In an era when businesses need to work as efficiently as possible, it is a smart investment that will pay for itself many times over.


Free aware


Some network professionals choose to rely on freeware or software in order to identify network problems. However, these are generally designed for network monitoring and their capabilities are limited, particularly in troubleshooting. For example, PC software cannot detect hardware or PoE devices, and since there’s only one Ethernet port on a laptop, inline testing is not an option. Furthermore, there is no fibre capability and critically, cable faults cannot be traced. If you rely on software based solutions, you will always need a secondary device or have to call in outside contractors, costing even more time and money. Freeware only works if the internet


works, and it requires the use of a laptop. Testing a network with a laptop is a laborious, cumbersome task, and


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