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Managing Todays Complex Networks

managNetwork management is the continuous process of monitoring a network to detect and diagnose problems, and of configuring protocols and mechanisms to fix problems and optimize performance. Unfortunately, today’s network architectures were not designed with these tasks as a main priority. As a result, managing data networks is, at best, a black art practiced by an increasingly overwhelmed community of network operators. We observe that the design of protocols, control mechanisms, and monitoring systems in- duces the problems that network operators must solve. Rather than just retrofitting network management on the existing infrastructure, we advocate designing network architectures with management in mind in the first place. The key idea is to design protocols and architectures to induce network- management problems that are easy to solve.

Networks need to be managed, thus should be designed for the ease of management in the first place. Ultimately, the design of manageable networks raises important architectural questions about the appropriate division of functionalities between network elements and the systems that manage them.

Optimization produces outputs from network management by setting the tunable parameters that control network be- havior. Solving an optimization problem involves minimizing an objective function subject to a set of constraints. Many optimization problems that arise in data networks are compu- tationally intractable or even have many local minima that are significantly suboptimal.

Network management is an essential factor in successfully operating a network. As businesses become increasingly dependent on networking services, keeping those services running becomes synonymous with keeping the business running.

Properly performed, network management ensures that services provided over a network are turned up swiftly and keep running smoothly. In addition, network management helps to keep networking cost and operational cost under control. It ensures that networking equipment is used effectively and deployed where it is needed the most. It increases the availability and quality of the services that the network provides. At least in the case of service providers, it is also a significant factor in the generation of revenue from networking services. On the other hand, ineffective management can lead to deterioration and disruption of networking services, poor utilization of investment made in the network, and lost business. Network management is hence key to getting the most value out of a network and can be absolutely business critical.

Despite its significance, network management is without much doubt one of the lesser understood topics in the otherwise well-charted world of networking. Reasons for this include the fact that network management looks deceptively simple, whereas it can be difficult to master, and that it is overshadowed by the networking technology itself that it is supposed to manage.

In some ways, managing a network is like throwing a party: Most people enjoy going to a party (read: the services provided by the network) but do not want to deal with the hassle of setting it up, keeping everything flowing smoothly, and cleaning up the mess afterward (read: network management). Yet this is essential to the party’s success (and ensuring that there will be another one). As with network management, many technical disciplines are involved: Food needs to be cooked, rooms decorated, invitations printed, and electrical equipment and lighting set up. And as with network management, organizational and business questions abound: Do I throw it at my home, or do I lease a location? Where will I put the coats? How many drinks do I need? Can I do it all by myself, or at what point does it make sense to use a caterer?

Network Flows As A Management Tool

flowFlow-based network traffic monitoring tools provide IT professionals with detailed network visibility to streamline troubleshooting, network operations and optimize the performance of an entire IT environment. Flow monitoring bring numerous benefits and reduces the financial cost of managing the network for everyone – small, medium and enterprise businesses, government and academic institutions.

Whats more, utilizing flow data statistics for security needs opens completely new possibilities for security engineers. The so called Network Behavior Anomaly Detection technology provides them with advanced network security monitoring for the automatic detection of suspicious activities, attacks and advanced threats that bypass traditional solutions.

Major benefits include:

    •   Protection of internal network, which is most vulnerable to advanced cyber threats.
    •   Detection of threats closer to the origin and in time, minimizing the damage and reducing the risk of further spread.
    •   Scalable, non-invasive and cost-effective security monitoring of the entire network.
    •   Simplification and automation of expensive manual process of inspecting incidents.
    •   Ability to leverage existing network infrastructure.

What Is A Network Management System (NMS)?

network-managementA network management system (NMS) is an application or set of applications that lets network administrators manage a network’s independent components inside a bigger network management framework. NMS may be used to monitor both software and hardware components in a network. It usually records data from a network’s remote points to carry out central reporting to a system administrator.

The key benefit to NMS is that it permits users to monitor or manage their entire business operations using a central computer.

A network management system is useful in:

  • Network device discovery
  • Network device monitoring
  • Network performance analysis
  • Network device management
  • Intelligent notifications, or customizable alerts

Quality network management systems include the following features:

  • Saves money: Only one system admin is required at a single location to monitor and manage the entire network, which cuts hiring expenditures.
  • Saves time: Each IT provider gets direct access to any data when required. All team members can simply enter or retrieve data using their own workstations. At the same time, their access may be controlled by the network manager.
  • Increases productivity: Helps manage every aspect of the office network, which includes software, hardware and other peripherals. The NMS identifies an issue as soon as it occurs it to ensure that there is no productivity slowdown or data loss.

Network Flow Awareness As One Of The Keys To Network Management

flowsIt’s no surprise that network operators face many challenges today, namely diminished revenue opportunities and high performance expectations. While we agree that it’s unrealistic to deliver 100% customer satisfaction across today’s complex networks, there are many ways in which network operators can improve performance, optimize costs and, ultimately, improve the customer experience. The bottom line is that network operators must balance performance with costs.

One of the bigger obstacles that network owners face in striking this balance is the influx of over-the-top (OTT) traffic. OTT services have, in many ways, spoiled network users in that they now expect the same level of performance each and every day. Digital literacy has certainly increased in the last decade, but most end users do not (and should not have to) know that delivering such a high quality of experience (QoE) for network services is incredibly complex. Therefore, end users are likely to become frustrated when performance dips.

Network flow management gives us the ability not only to see this in action but to intervene and manage the situation. In order to meet end users expectations, network operators need to closely examine where their network investments will have the most tangible impact on customer satisfaction. Of course, end user satisfaction is multi-dimensional and cannot be measured with just one KPI; it may depend on who the user is, where they are located, what services they are using and many other factors. But, by segmenting customers and analyzing data from the mobile network end-to-end, network operators can get a very accurate understanding of where they need to invest in the network to optimize quality of service and the customer experience. At Rustyice Solutions, we call this “user-aware network performance management.”