For those of us in the MSP world one of the most common questions we get is "What do you actually do?" In this article I'm going to explain a bit about what your MSP does by telling you what we know about you, our client (dun dun DUUUUN.) This particular article will focus on our insight into network usage/utilization -- things that we are looking at and managing behind-the-scenes that typically go unnoticed by the client.
*The following reports / statistics are taken from real-world networks & clients, but are not necessarily representative of YOUR network (or are they?!)*
We know a good deal (read: a LOT) about the overall usage on the company network. By looking at bandwidth & session reports, we can tell exactly when everyone is working and when folks are taking siestas. Yes, the 3:00 afternoon slump is a real thing - the proof is in the reporting!
For those that are a bit more technical, and because bandwidth utilization doesn't always properly reflect individual usage, we can also see how many sessions are open on the network at any given time.
Drilling down into our reporting we can see the individual IP addresses on the internal network and their respective bandwidth and session utilization. This is one of the many ways we can identify individuals through network reporting.
A very common complaint is that "the internet is slow" - we can take a quick look at the download stats per IP address and typically tell if someone is doing something they shouldn't be (streaming music, downloading torrent files, etc.) Just one of our many tools to pinpoint and troubleshoot an issue.
We can also tell the destination of network traffic - be it websites or internal IP addresses. Very useful for determining the overall trend of internet/network usage in the office & pinpointing any potential (or existing) problems. Also handy for knowing when it's time to upgrade the internet pipe coming into the office.
And yes, we can easily see which IP addresses are trying to access blocked websites most frequently.
Remember that common complaint - "the internet is slow"? We can very quickly take a look at the most commonly accessed applications, by how much bandwidth they are using. What does this mean for the end user? If you're soaking up all of your company's network capacity streaming YouTube videos and/or Pandora and Spotify, we're going to know! Be sure to keep things work related (mostly, anyway) and stay away from explicit material.
Perhaps one of the more important reports we can run on the network side of things is how often viruses are blocked on websites that are visited by a specific IP address. Translation: We know who is going to infected sites - and we really don't like that! It creates huge problems for the company and a massive headache for the MSP if one of the viruses slips past security measures into the environment.
This is just a sampling of things that your MSP is doing behind-the-scenes and the information that we have insight into regarding your network and users. It takes a lot of work and a big brain to keep up with all of these things and make adjustments/suggestions to the client in the ever-evolving environment that is "end users."
Next time you speak to your MSP, tell them "thank you!"
I'll be covering other areas of MSP operation in future posts. If you liked the information in this one give it a thumbs up and a share.