It’s been said that data is the lifeblood of any business — and the network through which it flows is akin to the circulatory system. A properly functioning network is vital to delivering the information that supports and drives every aspect of an organization’s operations. To keep it healthy and running smoothly, network management is therefore a must.
What is network management?
Network management is the process of deploying, optimizing, and maintaining a network infrastructure. It entails the use of various tools and technologies to ensure that the network is always running efficiently, resulting in fewer disruptions, improved security, and enhanced productivity within an organization. Network management also provides a more comprehensive view of the infrastructure’s health and performance, which allows for quick issue identification, analysis, and resolution.
What tasks are involved in network management?
Network management entails five critical processes, namely fault management, administration, security, provisioning, and performance management.
Fault management aims to detect and resolve potential errors in or threats to a network before they can lead to bigger problems, such as productivity-crippling downtime. It also involves documenting how each identified fault was fixed to streamline resolution of the same or a similar issue in the future.
Administration involves tasks associated with setting up a network, including technical requirement analysis, network diagram design, and infrastructure deployment. It also entails keeping an inventory of network resources such as servers, routers, and end-user devices, which allows administrators to better understand and keep track of network health and performance.
Security covers processes, policies, and solutions to defend against threats that could take a network down, including denial-of-service attacks and ransomware. In managing network security, administrators employ the following solutions and strategies:
- Firewalls filter incoming and outgoing traffic, blocking unauthorized or unrecognized sources from gaining access to a network.
- An intrusion prevention system, or IPS, controls access to a network by scanning it for suspicious activities, records detected threats, and takes preventative actions to protect the network from damage (e.g., blocking IP addresses, reprogramming or reconfiguring the firewall).
- Anti-malware software detects and removes malicious software from network devices and equipment.
- Endpoint management software enables system administrators to oversee and secure user devices such as desktops, laptops, and smartphones. With endpoint management software, administrators can remotely deploy patches and upgrades, deny network access to devices with security issues, and wipe lost or stolen devices of business data.
- Identity and access management ensures that authorized users are given appropriate access to the resources they need to do their job.
Provisioning involves preparing, allocating, and maintaining network resources to support an organization’s evolving needs and requirements. For example, in a business with a remote or hybrid work setup, system administrators must allocate enough bandwidth to video conferencing services to ensure smooth, seamless virtual meetings.
Performance management refers to processes that ensure that a network and its individual components are always at peak efficiency and therefore able to support business operations at all times. One of the most important network management tasks is monitoring, which allows system administrators to identify issues or activities that may be bringing down network performance and resolve them immediately.
Network management services entail five critical processes, namely fault management, administration, security, provisioning, and performance management.
In-house vs. outsourced network management: Which is better for SMBs?
The tasks involved in network management can be carried out by a business’s in-house system administrator or outsourced to a managed IT services provider (MSP). Having either an internal or a third-party team handle network management brings much the same benefits, including increased uptime and better network security. The primary difference between the two options is cost.
The average salary of a system administrator is $76,812, which is an amount that not all small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can afford. In contrast, partnering with an MSP is relatively inexpensive — SMBs need only pay a predictable, flat-rate fee per month. This makes budgeting much easier and saves organizations a lot of money. They also get peace of mind from knowing that their network is running optimally around the clock.
SMBs in Orlando and St. Petersburg, Florida trust Cutting Edge Network Technologies with their network management needs. For more information about how we can help optimize business networks to ensure smooth operations, get in touch with our experts today.