There are many issues that could affect an organization’s IT infrastructure. None are worse than network connectivity issues. Almost every other problem will have a very clear cause. Internet connectivity is usually a problem that should be escalated to an ISP. Mail flow, server issues are mostly self-contained problems. Network connectivity issues are often caused by causes very difficult to identify. Here are some of the more common causes and remedies:

Broadcast storm

The typical computer network produced a lot of broadcast traffic. This is amplified when someone inadvertently connects one network outlet directly to another. This is not uncommon and has brought down several large networks. The only way to rule it out is to do a visual inspection of every network outlet on the premises.

Faulty device

There are a lot of network devices connected to a computer network. In recent times that list has grown from mostly computers to include IP phones, IP cameras, Printers, multi-function devices, etc. When one of these devices malfunctions, there can be network connectivity issues. The fastest way to isolate the device is to run the network will all extra devices powered down. Then power them on systematically and monitor.

DHCP

Every computer network should have only one DHCP server. A DHCP server hands out IP addresses to devices on the network. The problems start when there is more than one DHCP handing out addresses. This means that some devices get the right IP, with the others losing network access and access to services. There are applications which monitor a network and alert when a rogue DHCP server is detected.


Systems administrators spend a lot of their time attending to periodic tasks. These tasks range from preventative maintenance to simple report generation. None of this is a problem until there is a critical issue that needs attention. The time spent on resolving any issues is the time that cannot be spent attending to these periodic tasks. The simplest and most efficient way is to automate as much of the regular tasks as possible. Here are two options for automating system administration tasks:

PowerShell

In a mostly Windows environment, PowerShell is a powerful scripting language that will allow most common tasks. There are modules that add support for Active Directory, Windows Server Backup, DHCP, DNS, and almost every service provided by Microsoft. The version of PowerShell varies depending on the version of Windows, although upgrades are available for older systems.

Python

Python is a popular programming language among systems administrators. There are courses specific to systems and network automation, which will teach you what you need specifically for those environments. Many systems have built-in API’s (application programming interfaces). You can use these API’s to extract data from the system without any human intervention. This way you can combine data from several systems to produce reports or dashboards.

These are the two most common languages used when it comes to automating systems tasks. It is even possible to combine both. When set on a schedule, it is as simple as setting and forgetting, freeing up time for other more important tasks.