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Artificial intelligence that monitors networks can help teams pinpoint problems and suggest repairs.
The network environment that agency and department IT teams work with has become increasingly more difficult and time-consuming to manage over the past few years. As the move to fully embrace the cloud continues, teams find themselves adding new devices and equipment to the mix almost daily, while still struggling to maintain several legacy systems that aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. To say it’s a complex situation would be an understatement.
When there’s an outage, downtime or something isn’t working as intended, the IT team’s regular tasks are put on hold until normal operations can be restored. The critical nature of government work makes this necessary. Sometimes, the cause of an outage is easily identifiable and it can be quickly fixed. That said, solving issues whose causes aren’t immediately recognizable can become the biggest waste of an IT team’s time. Troubleshooting often requires a trial-and-error approach, and it becomes a matter of luck whether the problem is located quickly or hours later.
Every second of downtime increases end-user dissatisfaction and impacts the services that departments provide. With many agencies also struggling with insufficient staffing, either due to budgets or labor shortages, there needs to be a better way to understand issues and speed repairs. That way is by embracing artificial intelligence.
Helping employees provide value
AI can be applied to network monitoring and management to help teams pinpoint problems that create outages or other issues.
Traditionally, teams would be faced with a choice. They could either adopt a reactive approach to network management, where the team would leap into action once a problem arose, or they could dedicate a team member (or more) to regularly watch and review alerts to identify potential issues or problems that needed to be addressed. These choices either meant the IT team was always on the defensive or that they were tasked with mundane tasks like alert watching, which prevented talented employees from truly adding value to the team and the company. It was a no-win situation.
Employing AI within the agency network environment can take on the unwanted task of monitoring the network environment and deciphering which alerts are important and which can be filed away for another day. AI can help eliminate false alarms, while also ensuring that valuable employees aren’t locked away all day watching and reviewing alerts. AI can help make certain each team member has the opportunity to add value.
As AI technologies are deployed in a network environment, they can understand the correct baseline for operations—and when there is an anomaly to that baseline. Because the AI recognizes what proper functionality is supposed to look like, it can help the team narrow down and identify any issues that are causing an outage or slowdown.
In traditional setups, once a problem has been identified, the IT team begins to work down a checklist of potential causes, checking and rechecking until the root cause of the issue is discovered. Naturally, this can either go smoothly, or take hours, or even days of effort to solve. With AI in place, when an outage occurs, the AI can often immediately identify the culprit, or the most likely candidates, speeding up the process of discovery and ultimately speeding time-to-repair.
In fact, even in situations where the AI encounters an issue it hasn’t seen or been trained to recognize before, it can act like a human team member and work through potential causes. The checklist is quickly and automatically reviewed, and partial information from multiple sources can be pulled together along with past experiences to narrow down the culprits. IT teams are then given much more qualified information on the most likely causes, helping them quickly get things back to normal.
Another benefit of employing AI within the agency network is to assist in the actual repair of the outages or issues that have been identified. While AI can identify a problem faster than a human (and it doesn’t complain about doing mundane tasks like watching alerts all day), it can also assist when it comes to implementing repairs.
AI technology can recommend the actual steps to take to repair an outage or to fix an issue it has discovered. While AI is still a ways from being able to replace a bad cable or install a new router, it can provide recommended fixes for the problems it uncovers, helping to speed time to repair.
This capability also ties in with the labor crunch that so many agencies are dealing with. AI that makes recommendations and essentially provides a repair manual can help less-experienced team members learn how to make repairs.
When talent, experience and numbers are at a disadvantage, AI can help to fill in the spaces and keep IT teams happy and adding value, while ensuring that the user experience of the agency’s employees is maintained.
Todd Nicholson is the director of vertical marketing at Juniper Networks.
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