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Educate users when troubleshooting a network connection

In this roundup of industry blogs, engineers discuss why it's helpful to teach users the basics of troubleshooting a network connection and why it's hard to simulate a network.

Users may not care to understand why their wireless network isn't working, but that doesn't mean technicians should abandon attempts to teach them about the basics of troubleshooting a network connection.

That's one of the points Networking Nerd Tom Hollingsworth covered in a recent blog post that examined the troubleshooting process. Even if users aren't interested in learning about the actual issue that caused their wireless network to go down, they might find it beneficial to understand some fundamental troubleshooting truths.

"I spent a lot of time trying to educate users about the nuances between signal strength, throughput, internet uplinks, application performance -- in the days before cloud -- and all the various things that could go wrong in the pathway between the user's workstation and wherever the data was that they were trying to access," Hollingsworth said.

Did it matter? No. "Because your users don't really care" about troubleshooting a network connection, he said. They just want the problem fixed.

Instead, Hollingsworth touted a different approach for training users about troubleshooting, one that centers around two simple questions:

  1. When did the problem start?
  2. What were you doing when the problem happened?

Getting users to answer these questions can take some work, but the end result is worth it, he said. It helps them better understand the process and saves you some time.

See what else Hollingsworth had to say about improving the troubleshooting process.

Why simulating a network is so tough

Having tools with the ability to simulate a network in a virtual environment sounds nice, but much like the Baltimore Orioles winning the World Series this year, it isn't going to happen.

Ivan Pepelnjak, writing on his IPSpace blog, said the configurations needed to build a simulated network are just too complex -- and vast -- to make it a reality.

Network pros aren't just dealing with individual transactions when conducting simulations. It can get more complicated when adding something like continuous integration -- determining whether software will work after changes to the source code -- which makes an effective simulation engine pretty much a pipe dream, Pepelnjak said.

Two broken scenarios fuel the need to emulate a network in a virtual environment: the belief that every component within a network is unique and an inability among enterprises to create a consistent and reliable configuration management mechanism.

Find out what Pepelnjak suggested instead as a way for enterprises to simulate their networks.

Telecoms turn focus to 2020, but are goals elusive?

Cloud-native and carrier cloud are lining up to be the biggest technology planning issues faced by telecom service operators in 2020, according to Tom Nolle, president of CIMI. But whether carriers will make tangible progress in adopting these operating strategies is far from certain.

Cloud-native -- developing apps and services specifically geared for cloud distribution -- dovetails with carrier cloud. Together, they frame developments such as 5G and IoT, both of which have enormous implications for carriers.

Yet, Nolle said, it remains unclear whether carriers will have the tools and software in place to make the necessary transitions.

"I don't see many vendors effectively pushing an ecosystem for cloud-native and carrier cloud," Nolle said. And without that support, it will be challenging for operators to budget accordingly.

2020 poses additional challenges -- both political and economic, Nolle said. While the 2019 planning cycle seemed to have a sense of purpose, this year's deliberations have a "mixture of frustration, boredom and cynicism," he said. Operators know what the market is telling them, but they aren't quite sure how to get there -- yet.

Find out what else Nolle had to say about the 2020 telecom operator planning cycle.

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