Introduction: Five Dangers of Poor Network Timekeeping

Most organizations today rely on networks of computers, all of which rely on clocks. So what happens when the clocks in these computers don’t agree with each other—or with the correct time? What happens to the processes running on the networks? And, what happens to the organizations?

A time bomb is ticking away in the heart of most IT infrastructures—the same infrastructure on which organizations depend to produce products, buy from suppliers, sell to customers, prepare financial reports, and communicate both internally and externally, in short do all the things modern organizations do. When the clocks in a network fall out of sync—with each other or with the correct time—bad things start to happen. Processes fail. Data is lost. Security is compromised. Legal exposure increases. And organizations lose credibility with customers and business partners which eventually can lead to decreased revenue and profit.

Why is this time bomb allowed to exist? Because most people mistakenly assume that computer clocks are inherently accurate. They also don’t fully appreciate the consequences when computers are made interdependent and when the clocks in these computers are made interdependent and when the clocks in these computers don’t agree. Finally, they don’t realize that solutions to the network synchronization issues are inexpensive and easy to implement. These solutions, called time servers, typically cost under $5,000 and can support a network consisting of thousands of computers. They are also virtually self-administering. In other words, there is absolutely no reason why any of the dangers discussed in this paper need ever threaten any company’s operations again.

Upcoming articles in this series include the the dangers and negative consequences of running out-of-sync computers in a network fall. We’ll separate the consequences into five main categories and also write about legal liability, loss of credibility, and providing good network time. Please check back to read these articles.

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