Network Management

What is Network Management?

Network management is the system of protecting a computer network’s resources through administration and oversight via apps, devices, and systems.

How can network administrators tell if their network is in good health?

When there are inconsistencies or a lack of resources available to users, it denotes a lack of efficiency or security in the network operation. Network administration includes tracking how resources are expended to confirm that the network is in good health. The operation is focused on maintaining network function, including proactively spotting errors or issues and oversight of all network traffic. Maintenance is necessary when network resources need upgrades, either in hardware or software.

Why is network management important?

To maintain the health and optimal functionality of a network, complete oversight and maintenance is crucial. With the constant attacks on networks and the increased risk with compromised data flow, network management becomes exponentially more necessary.

Network management is not only needed for proactive protection from threats, but intelligent management centers also have the capability to convert arbitrary data to actionable data that push your network and business forward. This process is possible through network management solutions with analytic and automatic capabilities.

When it comes to network performance, network management identifies and reduces network issues and bottlenecks that would otherwise hinder the flow of internal operations and impact user experience.

With the additional support of network management software and hardware within your enterprise infrastructure, you gain the ability to address issues quickly and resolve security threats or disruptions in workflows.

How does network management work?

To maintain the secure and dependable functioning of computer networks, network management employs a variety of tools, technologies, and processes . Here's how it works:

 

  • Network Monitoring: Network management typically starts with constantly monitoring the network infrastructure. This entails gathering information about network devices, traffic patterns, performance indicators, and security incidents.
  • Data Collection: To collect data from network devices such as routers, switches, servers, and firewalls, various network management tools and agents are employed. This data may include device status, bandwidth consumption, error rates, etc.
  • Performance Analysis: Network managers utilize the obtained data to evaluate the network's performance. They examine measurements like latency, throughput, and packet loss to discover bottlenecks or performance concerns.
  • Configuration Management: Network configuration is critical for network stability and security. Network management systems monitor device settings to ensure compliance with best practices and security regulations.
  • Fault Detection and Resolution: Network management systems can identify and warn managers of network faults or abnormalities, such as device failures, connection difficulties, or strange traffic patterns. Administrators can then take immediate action to remedy these issues.
  • Security Management: Network security is an essential component of network management. It comprises security methods such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and access control lists to protect the network from unauthorized access and cyber threats.
  • QoS (Quality of Service) and Traffic Analysis: Network management systems frequently contain traffic analysis features to monitor and prioritize network traffic. To guarantee that vital applications have the appropriate bandwidth and network resources, Quality of Service (QoS) techniques can be used.
  • Resource Allocation and Load Balancing: Network management technologies effectively distribute network resources. This can include distributing traffic over many servers or making better use of available bandwidth.
  • Capacity Planning: Network administrators prepare for future network capacity needs by analyzing past data and trends. This guarantees that the network can meet the increasing demands of users and applications.
  • Security Event Monitoring: Network management solutions also monitor security events. They can detect and respond to security problems by examining logs, detecting abnormalities, and generating alarms.
  • Remote Management: As networks become more decentralized and remote work becomes more prevalent, network management systems frequently include remote management features. Administrators may control and monitor networks from any location with an internet connection.
  • Reporting and documentation: Network management systems create reports and documentation that give insights into network performance, compliance, and security. These reports assist administrators in making educated decisions and keeping track of network activity.
  • Automation: In network management, automation is becoming increasingly significant. Tools and scripts for automation can automate repetitive processes, enforce network regulations, and respond to events in real time.

 

Network management is a multifaceted process that involves continuous monitoring, analysis, configuration management, and security measures to ensure the performance and security of computer networks. It adapts to the evolving needs of organizations and helps administrators proactively address issues and optimize network operations.

What are the components of a network management system?

Network fault management

Network fault management is the layer of management that detects faults (commonly known as errors). The main objective of fault management is to not only detect, isolate, and resolve the problem, but also to keep a record of the resolution process. This protects against future faults occurring from the same source.

Configuration management

The duty of network configuration management is to configure the network and all corresponding and linked devices to do certain things. It is the job of this management to tell the system and computers how to behave and what to do. The network managers must maintain, structure, and update configuration settings, host configuration by overseeing IP addresses and servers, and securely store these credentials and update them as needed.

Accounting administration

Network accounting administration pertains to the maintenance of administration or accounting services. Responsibilities include administrative duties, such as ensuring users have login, password, or specific permission settings and maintaining resource billing based on usage.

Performance management

To maintain network efficiency, network performance management is critical. This management is performed through data collection and analysis and by instituting thresholds of operation. Data can determine underperformance and point to areas of the network that require upgrades.

Security management

Network security management promotes the protection of the network structure, which is established through the implementation of firewalls, proxies, antivirus software, and systems to detect any attempted intrusion. These security measures oversee all traffic in a network and can extend protection through implementing physical and surveillance security systems.

Network management challenges vs. benefits

Challenges in Network Management Benefits of Network Management
1. Complexity: Managing modern networks is complex due to diverse devices, protocols, and technologies. 1. Improved Reliability: Effective network management reduces downtime and ensures network reliability, benefiting users and organizations.
2. Security Threats: Network security challenges, such as cyberattacks and data breaches, require constant vigilance and mitigation efforts. 2. Enhanced Security: Network management strengthens security by monitoring for threats and implementing protective measures.
3. Scalability: As networks grow, scaling resources and ensuring performance becomes challenging. 3. Scalable Infrastructure: Network management plans for scalability, enabling networks to accommodate growth seamlessly.
4. Rapid Technological Changes: Keeping up with new technologies and standards can be demanding and resource-intensive. 4. Adaptability: Network management helps networks adapt to new technologies and standards, ensuring they remain up-to-date.
5. Monitoring and Troubleshooting: Continuous monitoring and prompt issue resolution require significant effort. 5. Efficient Problem Resolution: Network management tools assist in rapid issue identification and resolution, minimizing disruptions.
6. Cost: Implementing robust network management solutions can involve initial expenses. 6. Cost Savings: Effective network management reduces operational costs and minimizes unexpected expenses over time.
7. Human Error: Human errors in configuration and troubleshooting can lead to network problems. 7. Reduced Human Error: Automation and standardized processes in network management help reduce human errors.

 

While network management comes with challenges, it offers substantial benefits such as improved reliability, enhanced security, scalability, adaptability, efficient problem resolution, cost savings, and reduced human errors. These benefits make it an essential practice for organizations in today's digital landscape.

The Importance of Network Management

Network management is critical to the smooth and effective running of contemporary computer networks. It includes a variety of actions and procedures aimed at monitoring, configuring, securing, and optimizing network resources and services. Several essential themes encapsulate the significance of network management.

Network management improves network reliability and availability. Administrators can proactively identify and resolve issues by tracking network performance, reducing downtime, and ensuring that key services are available to users.

It also increases resource use and efficiency. Network management solutions allow administrators to properly distribute resources, minimize bandwidth utilization, and eliminate waste. This is especially important in large-scale networks because resource allocation greatly influences overall performance.

The digital landscape is filled with security risks and weaknesses, and network management improves security by monitoring suspicious activity and adopting security measures to defend against unwanted access and data breaches. These are all part of effective network administration.

Furthermore, network management promotes scalability and expansion. As businesses grow, so do their network requirements. Network management tools aid in planning and implementing improvements to accommodate growth, ensuring the network can withstand growing demand.

As many sectors place a high value on compliance and regulatory requirements, network management assists firms in meeting these commitments by providing the monitoring and documentation required to show compliance with applicable standards and legislation.

Network management is essential for maintaining a reliable, efficient, and secure network infrastructure. It contributes to an organization's network's overall performance, growth, and compliance, making it a critical component of modern IT operations.

Network Management Services Best Practices

Effective network management is critical for assuring computer network dependability, performance, and security. It's crucial to use best practices to accomplish these objectives. Here are some network management services best practices:

 

  • Documentation: Keep meticulous records of your network architecture, such as network diagrams, device settings, IP addresses, and asset inventories. This material is essential for diagnosing, planning, and maintaining efficient network administration.
  • Regular Network Audits and Assessments: Conduct routine network audits and assessments to find weaknesses, performance snares, and places where enhancements are possible.
  • Network segmentation: To improve security and regulate access, divide your network into VLANs (Virtual Local Area Networks) zones. This separation helps to prevent attackers from moving laterally and lessens the effect of security breaches.
  • Access Control and Authentication: Implement robust access controls and authentication procedures to guarantee that only authorized users and devices may access network resources. Examples include role-based access control (RBAC) and two-factor authentication (2FA).
  • Patch Management: Maintain all network devices and software with the most recent security patches and upgrades. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in network equipment; therefore, timely patching is crucial.
  • Network Monitoring: Monitor network performance and security on an ongoing basis. Track device health, traffic trends, and security incidents with network monitoring technologies. Configure alerts for unusual activity and performance criteria.
  • Incident Response Plan: Create and maintain an incident response plan that explains how you respond to security issues and network outages. 
  • Backup and recovery: Implement frequent data backups and disaster recovery methods to maintain data availability in the event of network outages, data corruption, or cyberattacks. Periodically test these backups to guarantee they can be adequately restored.
  • Redundancy and load balancing: Use load balancing techniques to spread network traffic evenly across numerous servers or pathways, lowering the chance of overload or failure. To reduce downtime, implement redundancy in crucial network components.
  • Network Segregation for Testing and Development: Set up segregated network environments for testing and development to keep experimental configurations or applications from interfering with the production network.
  • Regular Education and Training: Educate network administrators and personnel on the latest tools, technologies, and security best practices. To remain aware of new dangers, cybersecurity training is very crucial.
  • Compliance and legislation: Ensure your network management methods follow industry legislation and compliance requirements.
  • Scalability Planning: Keep future expansion and scalability in mind when planning and operating your network. Your network can handle increasing traffic, devices, and services without causing substantial interruptions.
  • Vendor Support and Maintenance: Retain support agreements with suppliers of network equipment to guarantee you have access to updates, patches, and technical assistance when required.
  • Change Management: Implement a systematic change management procedure that requires network modifications to be documented and approved. This helps to avoid unintentional misconfigurations and ensures that modifications are done with a complete understanding of the potential consequences.

 

By following these network management services' best practices, organizations can maintain a stable, secure, and high-performing network infrastructure that supports their business objectives while avoiding risks and interruptions.

What is the purpose of network management?

Network management aims to ensure that computer networks run securely and reliably. It entails a collection of actions, procedures, and technologies targeted at regulating, monitoring, and optimizing network resources to fulfill the demands of users, applications, and organizations. Here are the primary purposes of network management:

  • Optimizing Network Performance: Network management aims to maximize the network's performance by ensuring that it operates efficiently.
  • Ensure Network Reliability: One of the primary goals of network management is to keep network services reliable. This involves proactive monitoring to identify and address issues before they cause disruptions, minimizing downtime, and maximizing network uptime.
  • Enhancing Network Security and Troubleshooting: Network management involves implementing security measures to safeguard data and prevent cyberattacks. Simultaneously, it enables rapid troubleshooting and issue resolution, ensuring smooth network operation while keeping it secure.
  • Remote Management and Scalability: Network management tools facilitate remote oversight, which is crucial for the growing trend of remote work. Additionally, they plan for network scalability, accommodating increased demands for traffic, devices, and services without compromising performance or security.
  • Resource Allocation: Network management effectively allocates network resources such as bandwidth, server capacity, and storage. This ensures that critical applications receive the necessary resources and are not wasted or overutilized.
  • Cost Control: Efficient network management helps control costs by optimizing resource usage, minimizing unnecessary expenses, and reducing energy consumption. It ensures that investments in network infrastructure deliver value for the organization.
  • Documentation and Reporting: Network management includes the documentation of network configurations, performance data, and security incidents. Reporting on network health and compliance helps decision-makers make informed choices.

Network management vs. network automation

Aspect Network Management Network Automation
1. Definition Involves human oversight and control to monitor, configure, secure, and optimize network resources and services. Utilizes software and scripts to perform network-related tasks and changes automatically.
2. Human Dependency Network management relies on human administrators to make decisions and take actions based on network data. Network automation reduces human intervention by scripting routine tasks, making changes, and responding to network events without manual input.
3. Real-time Adaptation Typically, decisions and actions in network management are based on real-time monitoring and analysis, but human intervention may be needed. Network automation can respond to events instantly, implementing predefined actions without delay, which can be advantageous in rapidly changing environments.
4. Complexity Handling Suited for managing complex networks where human expertise is essential for decision-making, especially in unique or unexpected situations. Ideal for handling repetitive tasks and routine configurations, simplifying management in large and dynamic networks.
5. Efficiency While it ensures network stability and security, network management may involve longer response times due to human involvement. Network automation tends to be highly efficient, reducing response times and minimizing the risk of human errors in routine tasks.

 

Network management relies on human administrators for decision-making and is well-suited for complex situations. In contrast, network automation focuses on efficiency and can handle repetitive tasks with minimal human intervention. Both have roles in modern network operations, depending on the specific needs and complexity of the network environment.

What are examples of network management tasks?

The following are the essential examples of network management tasks:

  • Monitoring Network Performance: Tracking the network's performance in real-time, looking for bottlenecks, and identifying possible problems. This includes tracking bandwidth utilization, latency, packet loss, and device health.
  • Configuration Management: This includes configuring routers, switches, and firewalls to meet the organization's needs. Implementing network regulations, access limitations, and quality of service characteristics are all part of this.
  • Security Management: Protecting the network from cyberattacks, illegal access, and data breaches. Tasks include setting firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and maintaining compliance with security rules.
  • Fault Detection and Troubleshooting: This entails determining the source of issues, such as network outages or performance deterioration, and taking remedial steps to resolve them as soon as possible.
  • Capacity Planning and Scalability: Planning for the future by evaluating the network's capacity and scalability requirements. Network administrators must plan for expansion and guarantee that the network can support more users, devices, and services without degrading performance.

 

These actions ensure a stable, efficient, and secure network infrastructure.

Network Management Frameworks and Models

A. Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP):

1. SNMP Architecture and Components:

SNMP is a protocol used for network management and monitoring. Its architecture includes three key components:

- Managed Devices: These network devices like routers, switches, and servers with SNMP agents installed. These agents collect and store information about the device's status and performance.

- SNMP Manager (or NMS): The SNMP manager monitors and manages the managed devices. It sends SNMP requests to retrieve information and can also send configuration changes or alerts to the devices.

- SNMP Protocol: SNMP defines the communication protocol that enables the manager and managed devices to exchange information. SNMP uses a simple request-response model, where the manager requests data using Get or Set requests, and the devices respond with information or perform actions.

 

2. SNMP Management Information Base (MIB):

The SNMP Management Information Base (MIB) database stores information about managed devices. MIBs use a hierarchical structure and are organized tree-like, with each branch containing information about a specific aspect of the device or network. MIB objects are identified by Object Identifiers (OIDs), numeric values uniquely representing each object. OIDs are used to query and retrieve specific information from managed devices.

 

3. SNMP Versions and Security Considerations:

- SNMP has evolved through different versions, with SNMPv3 being the most secure and widely used version.

- SNMPv1 and SNMPv2c had security vulnerabilities, including weak authentication mechanisms. SNMPv3 introduced robust security features, such as authentication and encryption.

- Security considerations in SNMP include implementing strong authentication (e.g., using SNMPv3 with HMAC-MD5 or HMAC-SHA authentication), using encryption (e.g., DES or AES), and configuring access control lists to restrict access to SNMP agents. 

B. Network Management Systems (NMS):

1. Functions and Capabilities of NMS:

NMS is a software platform that provides centralized management and monitoring of network devices and services. Its functions include:

- Device discovery and inventory.

- Real-time monitoring of network performance and health.

- Configuration management and change tracking.

- Fault detection and alerting.

- Reporting and analytics.

- Security management.

- Integration with other network components and tools.

 

2. Top NMS Tools and Software:

Popular NMS tools include:

- HPE Intelligent Management Center (IMC):

- SolarWinds Network Performance Monitor.

- PRTG Network Monitor.

- Nagios.

- Cisco Prime Infrastructure.

- Zabbix.

- The choice of the NMS tool depends on the specific needs and scale of the network.

 

3. Integrating NMS with Other Network Components:

NMS can be integrated with various network components, such as:

- SNMP agents on managed devices.

- Flow collectors for analyzing network traffic.

- Syslog servers for collecting log data.

- Configuration management databases (CMDBs) for tracking device configurations.

- Ticketing systems for incident management.

- Integration enhances the NMS's capabilities and provides a comprehensive view of network operations. 

 

C. IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and Network Management:

1. Overview of ITIL Framework:

ITIL is a set of practices for IT service management (ITSM) that focuses on aligning IT services with the needs of the business. It provides a framework for delivering and supporting IT services effectively.

 

2. ITIL Processes Applied to Network Management:

ITIL processes that apply to network management include:

- Incident Management: Handling and resolving network incidents and outages.

- Problem Management: Identifying and addressing recurring network problems.

- Change Management: Managing network changes to minimize disruptions.

- Service Level Management: Ensuring network services meet agreed-upon service levels.

- Capacity Management: Planning network capacity to meet future demands.

- Configuration Management: Maintaining accurate records of network configurations.

- Availability Management: Ensuring network availability meets business needs.

 

3. ITIL-Based Best Practices for Network Management:

ITIL-based best practices for network management include:

- Creating a service catalog that defines network services and their associated service levels.

- Developing incident and problem management procedures to resolve network issues quickly.

- Implementing a change management process to assess and approve network changes.

- Using capacity planning to anticipate network growth and avoid performance problems.

- Establishing configuration management to maintain accurate network documentation.

Network Management Best Practices

A. Adopting Proactive Network Management Strategies:

Proactive network management is crucial for preventing issues before they disrupt network operations. Here are some best practices:

  • Continuous Monitoring: Regularly monitor network performance and health to identify issues before they become critical. This allows for preemptive actions to maintain network stability.
  • Predictive Analysis: Use historical data and analytics to predict potential network problems. You can prevent downtime and service interruptions by addressing these issues in advance.

B. Implementing a comprehensive network management plan:

An effective network management plan helps ensure network operations align with organizational goals and industry best practices. Key best practices include:

  • Define Clear Objectives: Establish clear goals and objectives for network management. Understand what needs to be monitored, secured, and optimized to align with your organization's needs.
  • Documentation: Maintain detailed documentation of network configurations, policies, and procedures. This documentation serves as a valuable reference for troubleshooting and future planning.
  • Regular Updates and Reviews: Continuously review your network management plan to adapt to changing technologies and organizational requirements. Ensure that it remains aligned with business objectives.

C. Ensuring scalability and flexibility in network management:

Networks must adapt to changing business needs and technology advancements. Scalability and flexibility are essential:

  • Scalable Architecture: Design your network management infrastructure to accommodate growth. Ensure that it can handle additional devices, services, and traffic without significant performance degradation.
  • Flexibility in Tools and Processes: Choose network management tools and practices adaptable to different network environments and can integrate with various devices and vendors. This flexibility supports evolving network needs.
  • Automation: Implement automation wherever possible to streamline network management tasks. Automation can help manage scalability efficiently by reducing the burden on human administrators in large or growing networks.

 

By adopting these network management best practices, organizations can proactively address issues, maintain the reliability and security of their networks, and ensure that their network operations remain unhindered.

Future Trends in Network Management

Here are the future trends in network management:

A. Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Virtualization:

  • SDN Growth: The adoption of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) will continue, separating network control and data for more accessible, more flexible management.
  • Network Virtualization Prevalence: Network virtualization technologies like VLANs and VPNs will become more common, simplifying network provisioning and enhancing security.
  • Multi-Cloud Connectivity: SDN and network virtualization will be essential for seamless connectivity and management across multiple cloud providers and on-premises infrastructure.

B. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning in Network Management:

  • Predictive Analysis: AI and machine learning will predict network issues, enhancing proactive problem resolution and resource optimization.
  • Anomaly Detection: AI-driven systems will automatically identify and respond to security threats and unusual network patterns.
  • Automated Remediation: AI-powered systems will autonomously resolve common network issues, reducing manual intervention.
  • Dynamic Optimization: AI algorithms will adapt network configurations in real-time to changing traffic patterns and application needs.

 

C. Intent-Based Networking (IBN) and Autonomous Network Management:

  • IBN Adoption: Intent-Based Networking (IBN) will simplify network management by aligning it with business goals.
  • Self-Healing Networks: Autonomous systems will self-diagnose and heal network issues, reducing downtime.
  • Advanced Automation: Networks will automatically adjust to changes in workloads, security threats, and traffic fluctuations.
  • Edge Computing and Slicing: Network slicing will enable autonomous management in 5G and edge computing contexts, tailoring performance for different applications.
  • Zero-Touch Provisioning: Zero-touch provisioning will become more common, streamlining network device configuration and deployment.

HPE network management

HPE offers a variety of management solutions that benefit and promote increased health within your data network. HPE Intelligent Management Center (IMC) Orchestrator and Analyzer simplifies the processes of network management and oversight of operations through automation and analytics. This benefits network environments that need to promptly scale due to explosive growth in traffic.

HPE Aruba Networking Edge Services Platform (ESP) is a cloud-native solution that manages all wireless, wired, and WAN infrastructure. This runs across all locations, whether remote, data center, or across campus. HPE Aruba Networking Central is run on built-in AI that provides thorough analytics and intelligent insights and alerts. With HPE Aruba Networking ESP, there are greater business outcomes and higher operational efficiency, as it improves programs designed to convert edge data.

Gaining unified infrastructure by context visibility and simplified IT operations, HPE edge-to-cloud security eliminates a heavy load from your IT teams. It also integrates authentication, authorization, uninterrupted performance monitoring, and incorporated threat management into your enterprise infrastructure.