The Network Hub

Oct 26 2007   4:07AM GMT

Network management can be just plain ugly

SusanFogarty Susan Fogarty Profile: SusanFogarty

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Incident response

I’ve been a writer and editor in the enterprise networking market for 11 years now, and one topic I dread being asked about is network management. I didn’t really understand it when I started learning about networking, and I don’t really understand it now. But the more I learn about the topic, the better I feel about that; because I meet few people who understand it much better than I do. 

The problem is not network management itself; the idea is straightforward and is of obvious importance, especially in companies where the network has a big influence on business success (which is most companies, these days). My challenge has been in attempting to understand and categorize a wide range of products that simply defy categorization.  

When I ask readers about network management, they often define it according to the particular tool they use, which can range from a basic protocol analyzer to a full-blown suite like HP OpenView. Within that range there are product groups that seem like they should be comparable, but features and functionality vary wildly. One network monitoring tool might show a schematic of your network and alert you if a device fails or traffic levels reach a predetermined unhealthy level. Another network monitoring tool is able to give detailed usage data for every device and performance metrics for each application running on the LAN and WAN, all presented in easy-to-read charts that compare actual results to past performance and service-level guarantees. 

This makes it difficult for network managers to choose appropriate products. Muddying the waters even more is the recent overlap between network and applications management, as well as security management and monitoring. Many products incorporate applications and security elements, making it even harder to compare them. Add in that enterprises typically use several network management products in a layered fashion, all connected to element managers for different devices, and you have a complex scenario.

How can you make sense of network management and use it to its fullest advantage? One way is to have a clear game plan. The report, Network management systems: The good, the bad, and the ugly, brought to you by our partnership with Info-Tech Research Group, provides a step-by-step methodology for evaluating your network management environment. The resulting analysis can help you identify where your existing products are already managing the network well, how they work together, and where you should be making investments in additional products or upgrades. Check out the report and let us know if it helps make your network management look any less ugly.

2  Comments on this Post

 
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  • Gwenz
    Finding a solution that integrates the functionality of several tools in to one unified interface would help reduce the complexity of management, especially in a mid-size organization which doesn't have the resources to hire multiple specialists. Microsoft Systerm Center Essentials 2007 can make network management simpler. http://myitforum.com/cs2/blogs/gzierdt/default.aspx
    30 pointsBadges:
    report
  • Gwenz
    I wanted to follow-up to an earlier post that your readers mind find useful in managing their network environment. Microsoft has released a new 30 day evaluation environment that you can add to your existing network to try Essentials 2007 on up to 10 Servers and 50 Clients. Working with actual servers and clients will give you a first hand experience of how Essentials 2007 can help you manage your networked environment. Read more details at http://myitforum.com/cs2/blogs/gzierdt/archive/2007/12/07/new-evaluation-version-of-system-center-essentials-2007-available.aspx Gwen http://myitforum.com/cs2/blogs/gzierdt/default.aspx
    30 pointsBadges:
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