Network management refers to the broad subject of managing computer networks. There exists a wide variety of software and hardware products that help network system administrators manage a network. Network management covers a wide area, including:
Security: Ensuring that the network is protected from unauthorized users.
Performance: Eliminating bottlenecks in the network.
Reliability: Making sure the network is available to users and responding to hardware and software malfunctions.
Network management system components assist with:
- Network device discovery: Identifying what devices are present on a network.
- Network device monitoring: Monitoring at the device level to determine the health of network components and the extent to which their performance matches capacity plans and intra-enterprise service-level agreements (SLAs).
- Network performance analysis: Tracking performance indicators such as bandwidth utilization, packet loss, latency, availability and uptime of routers, switches and other Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) -enabled devices.
- Intelligent notifications: Configurable alerts that will respond to specific network scenarios by paging, emailing, calling or texting a network administrator.
Analytics are Key to the Network Management Solution
In order to properly capture, review and forecast network performance, you need to use analytics. Numerous variables should be monitored as part of the network management analytics data including response time, uptime, route analytics, intrusion attempts, and device availability. For the best form of network management, consider having another metric added – the amount of work that your network management system is tracking.
Network management systems (NMS) have a unique opportunity to view the entire IT enterprise from a macro level. If the network management system is able to capture analytics data such as traffic, devices, applications, routing, status, as well as the overall volume on the network, you can gain valuable insight into your current network state as well as predict potential issues before they become problems.
For example, a spike in the volume of devices monitored for a particular hub or switch can affect the network behavior. The same could happen with an increase in the use of a particular application that has significant data traffic.
With the right analytic indicators, your NMS can alert you before there is any significant network degradation.
Alternately, if certain devices or applications have declined in traffic or use, your NMS could advise you that there is more availability in certain areas that could allow routing to be adjusted and take advantage of the additional space. Analytics can be overwhelming when there is so much data to disseminate. However with the right network analytics tools in place, network data can become your best source for overall systems management.