Network Blind Spots: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You

BY IT GLUE | April 16, 2019

Did you ever trek up to a famous lookout spot, only to find that once you get there the clouds have rolled in and you can’t see much of anything? Like the time I was in Rio and went up to the Christ the Redeemer statue and it was so foggy I couldn’t even see the top of the statue, much less the city below. I was only there for a day, and had already paid for the tour, so I didn’t have a whole lot of choice about going, even though I knew the weather was bad. I mean, nobody in their right mind would choose to have such terrible visibility, right?

What’s inhibiting full network visibility?

So why do MSPs choose to attempt to service their customers without having full visibility into their clients’ networks? Wouldn’t the experience be so much better with full visibility? Of course it would. It doesn’t make sense that you would willingly choose to operate blind, but yet, many MSPs do anyway.

That’s because full visibility is expensive, time-consuming, or both. If not outright impossible. But let’s say, hypothetically, that you do meticulous site walks, painstakingly detailing every switch, every printer, every security camera. You run a bunch of manual tests to detect as much stuff as possible, and with laser focus document the heck out of that network. You spend hours on it.

There’s still going to be blind spots on that network.

A disused printer sitting in a closet, but still plugged in. A new router that someone bought at Best Buy, hooked up to the network, and forget to tell you about. That guy who was on vacation when you did your site walk, who often brings in his personal laptop, on which he does all sorts of unsecure things. One partner told us a story about investigating some workstations that were performing at only around 10% of the others. Turns out they were connected to an ancient router that had actually been plastered up inside a wall during the last office renovations. This is to say nothing of all the times you have visibility into only one vendor’s gear.

There are always blind spots, on every network.

What do these blind spots mean for you?

These blind spots are bad for business. They represent security risks, for one. You can’t secure a device you don’t know about. Undocumented access points can create demand on network traffic above what you planned for. Furthermore, your customer is probably expecting you to service everything, including all the shadow IT, rogue IT and IoT.

If you charge per device, these blind spots are also costing you money, because you’re servicing things you aren’t getting paid to service.

Proactive network management? Blind spots get in the way of that, too. If you see everything, you can make recommendations about things to replace, allowing you to get closer to the goal of a standardized stack. Network planning is a lot easier when you can actually see the network.

Part of great documentation is making sure that you’ve documented as much as possible. It’s time to start thinking about how you can make that happen, without adding a ridiculous amount of labor hours to the task. IT Glue now has a new product called Network Glue that facilitates network discovery, documentation and diagramming. We also have integrations with network monitoring solutions like Auvik and Meraki, if you are using those. Our API is available to Enterprise partners, to help you build your own integrations that can populate network documentation from other platforms.

It’s time to start thinking about making network documentation more of a priority, and eliminate risky network blind spots.

Ready to say goodbye to those network blind spots? Learn how Network Glue can help below.

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