By: V Balasubramanian, Marketing Manager - IT Security Solutions, ManageEngine, a division of ZOHO Corp
Published: 3rd December 2009
Copyright ManageEngine, a division of ZOHO Corp © 2009
Networks form the backbone of the modern IT and other enterprises. The components of the backbone—the network infrastructure—are quite complex and varied with the presence of hundreds or even thousands of mission-critical edge devices such as switches, routers, firewalls and others from dozens of hardware vendors. Enterprises make huge investments on procuring network infrastructure and employ highly skilled professionals to manage and administer the network infrastructure. Typically, a few administrators manage a large infrastructure.
Managing the network is a challenging task as business continuity directly depends on network availability. Even a few minutes of network outage could have a rippling effect on the revenue stream as critical business services get affected. And as business needs grow, network complexity also grows up exponentially. The enterprise naturally puts the squeeze on the few network administrators mandating them with the responsibility of ensuring network availability. Not just network availability, but also ensuring security and reliability, optimizing performance, capacity and utilization of the network fall under the ambit of the administrators.
Business needs are in a constant state of flux and administrators are required to respond to the needs often by configuring the network devices, which is a sensitive and time-consuming task. It requires specialized knowledge, familiarity with all types of devices from different vendors, awareness on the impact of changes, precision and accuracy. Naturally, the highly skilled network administrators carry out the configuration changes.
Ironically, most of the configuration changes are repetitive, labor-intensive tasks—for instance, changing passwords and Access Control Lists. Yet, as even minor errors in configuration changes to the devices in production carry the risk of causing network outage, the skilled network administrators spend a significant part of their time on configuring the devices. They find it hard to concentrate on strategic network engineering and administration tasks.
Besides, with increasing security threats to mission-critical network resources and serious legal consequences of information mis-management, enterprises everywhere are required not just to follow standard practices, internal security policies, stringent Government regulations and industrial guidelines, but also demonstrate that the policies are enforced and network devices remain compliant to the policies defined. Ensuring compliance has become a priority for network administrators nowadays. This drives them take extra care while changing configurations.
Administrators also have to continuously monitor the changes carried out to the devices, as any unauthorized change can wreak havoc to the network. The organization expects the network administrator and the IT department to deliver operational efficiency continuously and contribute to cost-effective network management.
It is evident that administrators face pressures from multiple angles; but, how do they normally manage configurations? Let us have a look at some of the traditional network configuration management practices:
The Limitations of the Traditional Approach
The manual way of configuring the devices suffer various disadvantages and serious limitations. The following are prominent among the many:
Issues at a Glance
The Way Out
Conquering the complex, multifaceted operational and technological challenges of network configuration management is getting simpler nowadays with the availability of Network Change and Configuration Management (NCCM) solutions.
The NCCM solutions are designed to automate the entire lifecycle of device configuration management. The process of changing configurations, managing changes, ensuring compliance and security are all automated and the NCCM solutions prove to be powerful at the hands of network administrators. They help save time and ensure network uptime.
By leveraging NCCM solutions, administrators can put in place both proactive and reactive configuration management strategies. Proactively, administrators can reduce manual errors and prevent unauthorized changes; when something goes wrong, they can react to the contingency within minutes by getting to the root cause or by rolling-back to the previous working version.
Lack of efficient and effective device configuration management affects the business continuity of enterprises. Manual configuration of devices eat away the time and efforts of the skilled administrators, who are struggling to keep track of configuration changes. Increasing security threats and government regulations force enterprises to comply to standard practices and policies.
Automated NCCM solutions enable network administrators to take total control of the entire life cycle of device configuration management. Changing configurations, managing changes, ensuring compliance and security are all automated. These solutions improve efficiency, enhance productivity, help save time, cost and resources and minimize human errors and network downtime.
With a good NCCM solution in place, enterprises can make best use of their network infrastructure. They can achieve increased network uptime and reduced degradation and performance issues.
Posted: 4th December 2009 | By Alisdair Hamilton-Wilkes :
There are lots of network and systems management tools available to deploy standardised configurations to thousands of device types. Many of these systems are older than ManageEngine, using SNMP, SSH or proprietary technologies on network devices and MSI, RPM etc on computer Operating Systems.
Posted: 9th February 2010 | By roger :
Now monitor large multi-vendor networks and get real-time notifications on outages by trying fully featured, 30-days free trial of Traverse...
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