How sloppy is your network?

Every IT administrator knows the consequences of network downtime but it's not always something that can be avoided.

Every IT administrator knows the consequences of network downtime -- mass staff whining, a total help desk meltdown, and really vicious complaints from the same senior managers who stripped the budget of the funds required to keep the network running in the first place. But it's not always something that can be avoided.

Recent survey data suggests that while our ability to keep networks up has steadily improved, there's still plenty of cause for grief.

According to a global study of 1500 customers by cable manufacturer Systimax Solutions, a good chunk of us are in denial about any potential network problems, while a fair number are struggling to get anything happening at all.

The survey found that 29.3 percent of companies claim they have no network performance issues at all, while 25.9 percent admit to having three or more hours of network unavailability or poor performance each month.

While many businesses aim to achieve the near-mythical "five nines" of 99.999 per cent network availability, that goal is rarely reached, figures suggest. Twelve percent of companies in the survey said that there were 10 or more occasions a year when users would experience LAN connectivity problems.

Asia-Pacific companies, who accounted for 25 percent of respondents, scored considerably worse than the global average in terms of network availability. They also tended to be slower in adopting newer high-speed cabling systems such as Cat 6, though this was offset to some extent by greater adoption of fibre-optic systems.

Cabling, of course, is only a minor part of the availability equation (though the ease with which standard network connectors break when you remove them from your laptop surely can't help). But with numbers like these, there's clearly plenty of work to be done on every element of the network infrastructure.

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