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Entries in Network (2)

Monday
Oct312011

Guest Post: Manage your Network like it’s being Monitored by Inventory Management Software

IT companies across the globe establish their networks with hopes that they will be able to manage them efficiently and without issues. However, most of the time, this isn’t the case. Managing IT networks can be a difficult, especially if the software that that’s being used to manage servers across your network is buggy and inefficient. IT professionals drool at the idea of having software similar to that of inventory management software in retail stores. But sustaining servers within multiple networks is much more complicated than track inventory in a retail store.

One of the first things that you can do to manage your network a little more efficiently is keep your management toolsets up to date. Often, networks will grow so rapidly that they exceed the capabilities of your current toolset. Furthermore, as your network continues to expand, you will need to scale efforts accordingly. This means analyzing the growth and determining what kind of efforts you need to execute. This could mean things like hiring more individuals, further educating your current staff, and gaining a better understanding of your virtual and physical networks. Lastly, I would be remiss in not mentioning that you need to assess the problem fully. More specifically, understand problems with accurate diagnostics and root-cause analysis.

Another way to increase network management efficiency is to automate network processes. Find ways to automate your network configurations, data tasks, and network compliance tasks. By automating your network, you save yourself a bunch of time and you also avoid a bunch of potential network errors. Some things that you should automate are simple tasks such as access and password changes, network information audits, log changes, and policy reporting for auditors. A few simple automated tasks can free up a lot more time for your network team to work on strategy and planning rather than maintenance.

Something that is regularly overlooked is the power of information. Disseminating information to your network specialists and support team can really help you ease many different issues that arise. And make sure that you’re communicating in-depth information to these departments. Giving a bare description of your network issues is inadequate. The more that these departments, specialists, and support teams know, the quicker the problem will be solved.

Margot McClelland is a guest post writer.  © 2011 Blog Content Guild

Monday
Dec282009

Oh What a Tangled Web we Weave

I know what you are thinking. “Here’s yet another article on the World Wide Web.” Wrong.

This is an article about the NETWORK.

You see, the full quote is ”Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive,” by Sir Walter Scott. It means if you tell lies you’d better have a really good memory or you’ll end up in a tangle of lies, half-truths and truths.

The same is true of the Network.

In 1984, John Gage of Sun Microsystems, used “The Network is the Computer” describing the emerging world of distributed computing. How true is this perspective?

25 years later most computers are fairly resilient, with a great deal of redundancy and fault tolerance built in. Sure, personal computers fail regularly (since most organizations won’t fund high availability desktops.) When was the last time you had a current generation server fully fail due to hardware? Generally speaking, servers are pretty solid and rarely incur an outage with proper configuration.

What about the network? If someone says a server is failing, I tend not to get too excited. If someone says, “something’s wrong with the network,” I really get concerned.

Because with the exception of possibly a power outage, nothing can bring a company to its knees faster than a network “glitch.”

Networks are complex beasts. Consider the possible dimensions…every server, every PC, internet connections, wireless connections, etc. Even smartphones can hop on the network. What about video, voice, and other newer generation technologies.

What brings fear to the heart of CIOs in financial services? Market data network issues. CIOs for retailers? Credit authorization outages.

The issue is when it comes to a server, one vendor or supplier has done the integration work to generally ensure the whole package works as a whole. With deference to the Ciscos and Junipers of the world, they only own a piece of the network. They don’t own all the interconnections, carrier (AT&T, Verizon, BT, Paetec, etc.) facilities, cable plants, NIC cards, etc., or the higher level networking functions like DNS (not a requirement admittedly but certainly a practical necessity.

The ladies and gents of “networking” organizations everywhere oversee an array of technologies vital to keep the “network computer” up and running.

The networking teams must do the integration themselves, making sure the entire “thing” hangs together as one.

This means it’s critical for CIOs and Network Managers to support standardization (not of vendors, but of approaches), and as appropriate fund redundancies in the network. If a location is critical, it will require duplicate (or more) facilities. This increases the needs for monitoring and decent network management tools and designs (or else outages from spanning tree failures or circuit flapping will inevitably occur.)

Process is key as well. The network analysis and planning, implementation, active management, etc. all require solid processes. Back in the 70s, a single outage could take out a mainframe system. Today, networks are susceptible to the same issues if not properly deployed.

Frankly, I prefer to think of the network as a critical facilitating technology rather than the network as the computer. A critical facilitating technology best describes the significant role networks play.