Networks are growing increasingly complex, and it’s creating issues in terms of management and cybersecurity that need to be made a top priority in 2020. Network management is a term that refers to the broad subject of managing computer networks.
There are different software and hardware products that often make up a network. The three general considerations that comprise the larger subject of network management include security, performance, and reliability.
The following are some things to know for the new year as far as current network management best practices.
IPAM stands for IP address management best practices, and it’s an important part of modern network management. There is an increase in not only connected devices that are part of many networks, but also apps and mobile devices. This makes networks increasingly complex, and their multi-cloud nature compounds this.
Benefits of IPAM include more simplicity and better control of IP resource allocation through automation.
IPAM solutions can help improve not only automation but visibility.
IP and DNS are foundational components of network infrastructure, and if there are issues in their function, then it means there’s no guarantee of connectivity between the different elements of your network.
IPAM-specific best practices include the maintenance of unified and centralized IP address management services, determining an IP plan structure and strategy based on business needs, and defining corporate standards, and enforcing policies to simplify deployment.
It sounds simple—maybe overly so, but you should label everything that’s part of your network. Network diagrams will allow you to easily see where devices are and what they’re doing, as well as what they’re connected to.
This is another area where an IPAM solution can come in handy, however.
If you want to do a manual check of your inventory, you can begin at a core switch and then move to servers, routers, firewalls, and any devices used.
Monitoring and Alerting
You should have at the very minimum monitoring of all of your devices.
You can also add memory monitoring and monitoring for interfaces, such as WAN links.
The majority of enterprises will have tools that help them monitor the health of their network, but there needs to be ways to access this information when a network is down.
At the enterprise level, it’s important to have an infrastructure that supports a physical connection to devices on a network.
With appropriate redundancy, an organization can go around their network and then access hardware so they can troubleshoot and identify a solution, even without the availability of other access points.
Tracking Users and Devices
Along with monitoring and alerting for all critical devices, you need to be able to identify where everything is that’s connected to your network.
You can do this manually, or you can automate the process.
Automation will make use of once again, IPAM solutions.
If your network is unsecured, then it’s not well managed, and there’s no way around that fact.
There is, in general, a combination of disappearing perimeters and growing numbers of connected devices paired with the constantly changing threat landscape that makes network security a difficult, large and complex challenge.
Cybersecurity needs to be an integral part of the entire network management plan. There needs to be the ability to identify all assets, both managed and unmanaged in real-time.
Without visibility, attackers have the opportunity to exploit those blind spots.
While many businesses focus on digital transformation, they don’t realize that, in doing so, they are leaving their organization open to more points of exploitation without proper network security.
Finally, above all else, when it comes to simplifying and streamlining network management, automation is the best way to go about doing it in a variety of situations.
Automation allows you to simplify how ordinarily complex tasks are handled. You can decide which areas are priorities for automation based on your organizational needs and business objectives, as well as your human capital.
Depending on the automation you use, you could potentially manage your network from one unified control interface.
With the above tips and best practices, and particularly automation, it’s possible not only to be more efficient with network management but also reduce the costs. Both efficiency and reduced costs are essential as the growth of devices and data is moving faster than the capabilities of IT.
This makes manual changes difficult, if not impossible, but automation is a helpful part of a solution.