At the time when Ethernet was invented by Bob Metcalfe, computer chips were being produced by Intel. These chips provided almost unlimited capability of processing and transmission for servers and networks. At the same time, software, developed by Microsoft, were gulping down all available processing power. Network management is the key task in maintaining a balance between the hardware capability and software consumption.
Managing network varies with the application. There is no unique way that is applicable to every environment. However, there are some common elements which are applicable to almost all network applications. The definition of network management says “It is a process to maximise the reliability and utilisation of network components in order to optimise network availability and responsiveness”.
The question comes up, what will be managed by this process? The answer is, it is the network. But this answer is found to be too vague. It does not answer as to who is responsible for which aspects of the network. This becomes essential in large complex environments, where networks, spanning the world, would vary in terms of topology, platform, protocols, security, and suppliers.
There could be some infrastructures that are made responsible for both classified and unclassified networks, having a wide variety of security requirements, supplier involvements, and government regulations. This should be an early decision, as far as network management is concerned. It is imperative to decide which elements of the management task would be managed by which department. For instance, the responsibility to manage encryption could be given to a government agency, and the in-house security department of the organisation could be made responsible to manage network security, while the help desk facility is managed by the computer operations department, who would be administering network password and other allied tasks.
There are other decisions to make. Each of the network environments vary in terms of its priorities, directions, costs, and schedule. Major networking infrastructure hardly remains static, as far as its importance is concerned, popularity, and funding. There are constant changes that require the network management team to modify the management process. In this kind of a situation, early decisions need to be taken, and it is very much required that these decisions, regarding the management changes or amendments done, over the previous planning strategies, are communicated to all concerned parties.
There are certain measures which provide the information about how effective the network management is performing. The effectiveness of the network could be seen from its service matrix, such as, network availability, network response times, and elapsed time to log on. The process efficiency could be measured by the network’s process matrix, such as, outages caused by network design, maintenance, carriers testing, nonstandard devices, lack of training, and negligence.
Network management is completely a team work, with people who should be ideally being having the necessary certification in network management. There are several of these certification courses being offered, and one could get to enhance his skill in the field of specialty that he is in.