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Seven network management priorities

01 Sep 11

The convergence of cloud computing, virtualisation, mobility, data explosion and multi-media applications are pushing networks to breaking point. At the network layer, these trends have made the role of IT managers even more complex as they deal with disjointed architectures, legacy networks, difficulties in securing virtual and private cloud, and lack of visibility of the physical and virtual worlds.
Resellers need to be able to provide their customers with the best possible advice and tools to manage network infrastructure, to ensure that it can support the organisation in a reliable, predictable, efficient and cost effective manner.
The first step is for resellers to understand the different network priorities of their customers.  Seven areas should be considered when assessing the needs of your clients:
1. Scalability
The vast majority of managed environments are growing and increasingly greater numbers of IP-enabled elements are being added to the mix. The move towards virtualisation within all portions of the IT infrastructure also contributes to a growing number of elements requiring management.
2. Flexibility
Good, high-value network management tools are ‘future-proof’ and are kept current with the latest in technological innovations. They must also be easy to adapt to handle new managed elements and infrastructures, preferably through configuration rather than customisation.
3. Service orientation
As IT organisations strive to become more strategic to the business, it’s essential that the tools and technologies in use support service awareness. This means organising and presenting information according to business organisation and structure, and if possible adding application awareness from the network to show the direct linkage between infrastructure and the value it delivers.
4. Automation
The only way to keep up with the rate of change occurring in today’s managed environments is to leverage automation in every way possible. Examples should include automated discovery, event correlation, root-cause analysis, guided workflows and configuration policy auditing, at a minimum.
5. Collaboration
Even the best management tools fall short of their true potential if the data they collect and the information they present cannot be easily shared with peers and served constituencies. Solutions must have flexible, graphically rich consoles and reports that can be rapidly distributed as a basis for effective communications.
6. Security
Increasingly, operations teams are recognising that all management tasks and activities must adhere to the same security requirements as the applications being managed. Important in this area are features such as partitioned access, policy audits and alerts about observed potential threats.
7. Cost Efficiency
With most IT operations functions classified as ‘cost centres’, constant attention must be paid to ensuring that management tools and technology investments deliver the best bang for the buck. This means finding management tools that deliver multiple functions covering as much of the managed environment as possible within a single system solution.
As with all things, priorities and requirements for network management solutions change and evolve, just as the managed environment continues to change and evolve. As a result, savvy resellers should keep a continuous watch on how the changes their clients are experiencing affect the needs they in turn have for network management tools and technologies. 
Source: The content for this article was drawn from an Enterprise Managements Associates white paper prepared for Hewlett-Packard