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Human Factors in Network Reliability Engineering


Network administration and management tasks play an integral role in Information Technology (IT) operations; which are utilized across a diverse set of organizations. The reliability of networks is therefore of crucial importance for ensuring effective business processes. All IT networks are administered and managed by human administrators. As the process of administration becomes increasingly complex, human limitations can amplify challenges to network reliability and security. Despite researchers’ agreement that the human factor becomes increasingly significant as the network becomes more reliable, efforts to design reliability measures have remained largely separate from considerations of the human component. We examined the question of whether joint consideration of these two components would be useful in designing reliability of enterprise networks. We interviewed and surveyed networking professionals to understand their impact on network reliability. The result is a discussion of specific demographic, organizational, and technical factors that contribute to network reliability issues. For demographic factors, academic background was a notable factor associated with network instability. For organizational factors, a notable factor was the number of devices assigned per administrator. Finally, for technical factors, a notable factor was misconfiguration of networking devices, which contributed significantly to the unreliability of the studied networks. Based on this research, we concluded that the future of network reliability engineering will benefit substantially from actively addressing the human role in network administration and management.

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  1. This is equivalent to community college associate degree in USA.


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We are very grateful to Dr. Emerson Murphy-Hill, Department of Computer Science, North Carolina State University, for extensive helpful discussion and guidance related to background on Grounded Theory, as well as survey interpretation and data collection. We gratefully acknowledge the support and generosity of our interviewees, survey respondents, and their organizations, without which the present study could not have been completed.

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Correspondence to Magreth Mushi.

Appendix I: Semi-Structured Interview with Network Engineers/Analysts

Appendix I: Semi-Structured Interview with Network Engineers/Analysts

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Mushi, M., Dutta, R. Human Factors in Network Reliability Engineering. J Netw Syst Manage 26, 686–722 (2018).

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