Paint a picture of how your network is used with IT-led data analytics
01 November 2017
Data-driven decision making
People have been collecting data for hundreds of years. Naturalists have been collecting environment data since the Victorian era, which now, over a hundred years on, is being used to paint a picture about how the environment has changed over the last century, and the impact it’s having on our planet. This invaluable intelligence is allowing the world to make data-driven decisions on a global scale about how the planet needs to combat climate change to avoid ecological disaster.
Businesses are using data to paint a different type of picture. Talk to the sales team, and they’ll tell you that the more data you have about your customers and prospects, the higher the likelihood is that you’ll sell to them more effectively. Talk to finance, and they’ll tell you that the data they have on profit and outgoings allows them to shape department and development budgets. The marketing team meanwhile are using data to target potential customers as effectively as possible. All aspects of business use data in their decision making process. It makes common sense.
So what about IT? How can they utilise usage data to improve business processes, optimise their network and make executive business decisions?
Data-driven application prioritisation and throttling in an office environment
Understanding how your network is being used by individuals, which devices are accessing your network, and which applications are being used the most allows IT to shape and grow the network to fit the bespoke requirements of the business in question. It also allows IT to shape network traffic by managing and prioritising specific applications.
Full layer 7 visibility of your network allows you to observe which applications are being utilised by which users and on which devices. This granularity in visibility allows network managers to clearly understand which applications are being accessed the most, as well as identifying renegade applications and users that are gobbling up office bandwidth.
Applying this visibility with the correct management tools allow you to prioritise business applications critical to your business over recreational applications such as Netflix or Spotify. Depending on your mood, you can even go as far as blacklisting and throttling particular applications, effectively rendering them unusable.
In contrast, high-bandwidth applications such as video conferencing tools can be prioritised to improve the quality of video. Of course, this depends on the quality and output of your network, but if you’re struggling with the quality of your video conferencing, prioritising your applications is a good place to start.
Combining Layer 7 visibility with other technologies
On its own, data acquired as a result of Layer 7 visibility allows you to better understand how and why your users are using specific applications, and even monetise this information. Combining Layer 7 intelligence with additional data acquisition sources such as location analytics and web traffic history allows organisations to better grasp how their users are utilising their network, and use this data to shape business strategy.
In a retail or hospitality environment for example, this data can be used to customise guest WiFi access portals, understand high footfall areas, and even block access to competitor websites or high-bandwidth apps. Data like this is invaluable in “next generation” customer environments, and savvy retailers are already utilising this data to make better informed staffing decisions, create hyper-targeted advertising campaigns and build loyalty programs that drive repeat business.
Reign in your BYOD and mobile devices
Combining Layer 7 analytics with additional data sources in an office environment is also valuable from a network management and compliance perspective. Understanding the location of high-density connected devices can ensure your wireless access points are located in the optimum place, while comparing application usage statistics with the time of day allows you to prepare for any potential spikes in bandwidth requirement by temporarily throttling less critical applications accordingly.
A data-driven network manager can also utilise this granular data to analyse and manage mobile and user-owned devices as they access the network. As the number of mobile devices accessing business networks grows exponentially, it’s critical that they’re monitored, secured and managed effectively.
Layer 7 visibility allows you to observe and manage all BYOD and mobile devices accessing your network. Understanding and classifying individual devices allows organisations to apply network policies by device type or even manufacturer, allowing you to restrict or throttle user-owned devices. Analysing how these devices interact with your network over time lets you understand how much bandwidth BYOD devices use up as a whole, allowing you to make data-led decisions around mobile device policy within your organisation.
Build a data-driven network with Prodec Networks and Cisco Meraki
Prodec Networks partners with leading cloud managed networking vendor Cisco Meraki to provide businesses, retailers and schools with simple-to-manage networks that use data to paint a picture about how your business works. Cisco combines Layer 7 visibility with location analytics to paint a full picture of your network all from one simple-to-use online GUI dashboard.
Learn more about Cisco Meraki’s technology stack and why it’s the perfect fit for your business by signing up to a weekly webinar. You’ll receive a free, no strings attached wireless access point just for attending. Learn more by clicking on the link below.