Connectivity is more valuable to today’s businesses than ever. Partly, this is because many business-critical operations are happening online. Employees are connecting using collaborative software. Customers are seeking support and placing orders online. At the same time, suppliers and partners are transmitting data online. All their success depends on network capacity and reliability. This, and the increased adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the cloud, is putting pressure on network management.
Network managers are finding it tough to align network bandwidth to demand and understand what’s connected to their IT network. That’s why many enterprises are moving toward the managed services model for network management. Managed network services give you better control of network issues. Also, they provide you with expertise to mitigate risks arising in the network.
This article will discuss what network management services mean and what their value to businesses is. Also, it’ll provide examples of managed network services. We’ll discuss best practices to adopt in network management and mistakes to avoid.
First of all, let’s define a basic term.
What Are Network Management Services?
Network management involves the monitoring and maintenance of a business’s information technology. You can have an in-house network management team or hire the services of network management providers. Vendors of network management services provide a wide range of services:
- implementing upgrades
- monthly status reporting
- user administration
- network maintenance
All this helps you assess the network’s performance and optimize operations.
Also, a variety of tools and software solutions are available for network monitoring. Netreo’s network management software is an example of a tool that helps manage networks, systems, and applications. Data from such software help you streamline network operations, repair reported issues, and manage network devices continuously. The aim is to reduce network infrastructure downtime and keep devices functioning correctly.
Examples of Managed Network Services
Network management services include providing solutions to different components of the network. Below are some examples.
- Network administration: This covers tracking of network resources, such as switches, servers, and routers. Software updates and performance monitoring are also part of network administration.
- Network maintenance: This includes fixes and upgrades to network resources. Remediation activities and proactive measures are executed here. They may include replacing switches, routers, or other network gears.
- Network operation: This ensures the smooth running of the network. The network manager closely monitors activities to identify and fix issues as they happen.
- Network provisioning: Often, you’ll need to configure network resources to support the requirements of specific services. Network provisioning lets you do that. For instance, you can increase bandwidth requirements to accommodate more users.
Is network management worth it? Let’s explore further.
Benefits of Network Management Services
Network management is the first step to maintaining system performance, identifying areas of improvement, and ensuring availability. What are some of the main benefits of network management services?
Benefit 1: Keeping Your Data Safe at All Times
The consequences of data loss are far-reaching. Thus, the organization needs a network management system to create automated, centralized backups for network systems.
The strength of network solutions is that they keep backups synchronized even if your systems are spread across different parts of the world. And they allow members to access other servers within their team in real time by providing a secure set of protocols to work with.
Benefit 2: Identifying Security Threats and Enhancing Network Security
Cybercrime has become rampant, especially because businesses are increasingly collaborating and working remotely. Most attacks are complicated to trace. Thus, it’s critical to detect and mitigate network threats before they escalate. Maintaining continued network security requires continuously updating security patches and maintaining standardized security settings on all workloads.
Managed network services empower you to protect the organization’s systems and data. They have packages that protect network systems from malware, viruses, inappropriate web content, spam, and intrusions. More than that, such systems keep business-critical applications, transactions, and data secure and safe with policy-secure configurations.
Benefit 3: Saving Money
Network management systems monitor all software and hardware within a network environment. This saves time and lets you and your colleagues concentrate on achieving core business goals. Also, network management services providers can save you costs with their strong network management skills. Such experts keep themselves updated with the latest advances in the network industry. Without a doubt, they’re a safe bet to preventing IT infrastructure downtime and helping you enhance productivity.
You already know that IT downtimes are costly. In fact, Gartner estimates the average cost of network downtime at $5,600 per minute.
Benefit 4: Having a Proactively Managed Network
Misconfigured software, security breaches, power outages, or faulty networking hardware can all harm the organization. Network management systems use responsive maintenance services and proactive monitoring tools to help you avoid such risks.
With proactive system monitoring, system administrators identify issues such as abnormal network traffic quickly and revolve them before they become a burden. Furthermore, network management services providers identify weaknesses of the network infrastructure using historical and real-time statistics and act accordingly.
Network Management Services Best Practices
It makes economic sense to choose the right network management services to help address network challenges quickly. Even so, you should also practice some network management best practices, as discussed below, to improve the IT network experience further.
- Think about future growth: Most large enterprises started as small companies. Much of the focus for many businesses is growing the business. Yet, it is important to plan how critical aspects such as the network will manage that growth. You need to assess future bandwidth requirements. As the organization starts to use more complex applications that handle large file sizes, you’ll need to increase the size of the network’s storage space.
- Have an accurate network topology: This matters because there are too many components to manage in an IT network. In this way, you can be sure your network will do well. You need to update the documentation of your network topology every time you introduce a new device into your network infrastructure.
- Be ready for failovers: Network downtimes can’t be evaded entirely, but they can be reduced to a minimum. That’s why you need to ensure that operations continue even when there’s a network interruption. If this isn’t done correctly, the businesses may experience decreased revenue, lost productivity, and client frustration. Set up the network in a way that traffic is transferred from a failed or degraded connection to a redundant component to avoid network downtimes and disruptions.
Mistakes to Avoid in Network Management
Now that you have a sense of the basics, let’s take a look at how you can keep things running smoothly. First, let’s explore some logs you may not be keeping up with.
Mistake 1: Overlooking Network Device Logs
Your network devices generate logs that contain data valuable for managing the IT network. Have you stopped checking or collecting these logs? In that case, you’re ignoring valuable insights into how your devices and networks are operating.
With a network management solution, you can examine event logs in your network. Going beyond that, you can use that information to track user activity and troubleshoot device problems. Also, you can scrutinize performance events and historical security.
Mistake 2: Neglecting Automation
Managing networks is complicated. You may need to provision devices, protect the business from application malware, and so much more. And you may not get the correct predictive insights into your device, user, or network issues if you rely on manual solutions. What’s more, manual network management will consume a lot of your time. That’s why you need automated tools. Such tools provide real-time notifications that will help you fix network issues before they affect the business.
Mistake 3: Forgetting to Set Access Controls
Businesses today are operating in a hyperconnected ecosystem, with a range of device types connecting at all times. Furthermore, companies have moved their applications from on-premises to the cloud. Thus, you need more innovative access controls to strengthen cybersecurity. You also need to ensure robust access controls for the network infrastructure.
Gaining Complete Visibility
In conclusion, without a properly laid out and functioning network infrastructure, you’re in trouble. But monitoring your network helps you know your network better.
Using a network management system is the best way to gain complete visibility of your network. It helps you find anomalies, and it provides intelligent real-time data and accurate future predictions. The data and predictions empower you to make accurate decisions about your IT network.
This post was written by Eric Kahuha. Eric is a data scientist interested in using scientific methods, algorithms, and processes to extract insights from both structural, and unstructured data. He enjoys converting raw data into meaningful information,and contributing to data science topical issues.