Company IT networks comprise of a complex blend of cable-connected data centre hardware, wireless devices, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and cloud-based services or applications. Keeping a close eye on all of these elements is often critical to the survival of a business, making an effective network management system an essential requirement.
NMS (network management system) software and protocols enable network administrators and engineers to take on this management burden.
What is a Network Management System?
A Network Management System or NMS is a single software platform or suite of applications that helps administrators and engineers to manage, optimize, and monitor the various components making up an IT network infrastructure.
The NMS (network management system) platform typically includes tools for identifying individual network components, configuring and allocating resources to them, updating system elements and configuration options and troubleshooting any problems which may arise. Engineers and administrators will typically have access to a centralized console that displays performance information and system management data in real-time.
Network Management System – Operations
There are several functions that an NMS performs, covering a range of important network management operations. They include:
A network management system typically employs a set of application interfaces, the Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), and physical connections to network devices to enable real-time monitoring of how the various network components are behaving. This monitoring function enables network administrators and engineers to determine whether or not their network devices and services are performing correctly. Performance monitoring also provides visibility into the resource usage of various network elements, allowing administrators to identify which devices may be operating at or near their full capacity. The system will typically provide alerts if critical thresholds are reached.
Detecting Network Devices
The network management system will include mechanisms for detecting when new devices join the network and identifying these elements. This allows the system to filter for authorized or unauthorized devices and to configure permitted devices accordingly.
Analyzing Network Performance Over Time
A network management system will keep a log of how individual network elements and the network as a whole perform over time. The system will typically be on the lookout for indicators such as bandwidth consumption, delays or latency in data transfer, and the availability of vital network resources. This historical view can help administrators identify areas, where performance could be improved or new or additional network components might be necessary.
Managing Multiple Devices
The network management system provides a central platform for configuring and managing a diverse range of devices. In conjunction with the results from performance monitoring, this enables engineers and administrators to fine-tune and modify the configuration of individual devices to optimize network performance.
The network management system will typically include a set of real-time adjustment tools and/or a set of pre-defined rules for handling device failures, performance drops, and other faults. Remediation tools may be capable of correcting a device fault automatically or rerouting network traffic beyond the faulty component until a proper fix can be implemented. The fault monitoring system will usually include real-time alerts or notifications for system engineers and administrators.
Types of network management systems
As with most types of IT deployment, a network management system may take a number of different forms.
On-site or in-house NMS deployments require an installation of the necessary software on the business premises, together with the supporting infrastructure and the IT expertise needed to keep it running. Although this kind of installation can give the business greater control over the system and the freedom to customize the platform according to the organization’s specific needs, the business must also assume responsibility for purchasing, upgrading and patching the software.
Remote or cloud-based software, monitoring, and expertise are key features of the network management system “as a service” deployment model. This eliminates the burden of procurement, infrastructure maintenance and skills provision by the business as this is performed remotely by a managed services provider like CG Technologies for an agreed monthly fee.
For all types of network management systems, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) defines five major components denoted by the acronym FCAPS: Fault, Configuration, Accounting, Performance, Security.
Here, a combination of remedial processes and technology are employed to identify, troubleshoot, and log errors that can impair network operations.
Besides the initial network hardware and infrastructure setup, this aspect of a network management system continuously tracks changes to the configuration of devices and services on the network.
This is essentially a bookkeeping component, which tracks the resource utilization of devices and users on the network. This information can be used to identify how different business units consume system resources and manage costs.
Here, network activity is either monitored passively or through staged tests to gauge metrics such as how network links are being used, the loss of data packets, and network response speed. This data assists administrators in maintaining desired levels of service.
The security management component of a network management system concerns itself with device and user authentication, threat assessment, the detection of suspicious activities, and the protection of network endpoints and perimeters.
Why use an NMS?
Today’s network architectures have evolved far beyond the traditional wired campus or data centre of old. Wireless and mobile devices, edge computing, IoT, and Software-Defined Networking (SDN) technologies have increased the complexity and magnitude of the tasks facing network administrators and system engineers.
Among the advantages of network management system solutions for today’s businesses are:
- A centralized management platform providing oversight and visibility into all network elements.
- Tools to discover, identify, configure, and monitor network devices and components.
- Provides mechanisms for monitoring overall network performance, with historical and real-time reporting and logging for system optimization.
- Proactive reporting and analytics can enable organizations to adapt, reconfigure, and grow their networks in response to changing business requirements.
- Integration and/or cross-platform compatibility with networking tools from multiple vendors.
- A reduction in the number of staff needed for network monitoring — with consequent savings in labour costs.
- Ease of access to the Network Management System for system administrators, leading to greater efficiency.
Roadblocks in the Absence of a Network Management System
Businesses without a network management system face a number of challenges. They include:
Vulnerability to System Degradation Over Time
As network infrastructure ages, its performance will tend to deteriorate. In the absence of a network management system with continuous monitoring, the organization may be unaware of the level of degradation that is occurring. In extreme cases, this may lead to system failure, network downtime, and the associated costs in terms of finance, business reputation, and possible non-compliance with relevant regulations and standards.
Disruptions in Application Availability and Service Delivery
Without access to the performance and fault monitoring technologies of a network management system, organizations may be unable to anticipate application glitches and network outages. Again, this can lead to network downtime, a loss of availability for vital network services and applications, and an inability to meet guaranteed service levels.
Increased Vulnerability to Security Threats
A lack of oversight into the security posture of a network and an inability to police the activities of network users can lead to data breaches, cyber-attack, and expensive consequences for the business.
NMS as a Service – Features
From all of the above, it is clear that managing network management systems can be a complex, taxing, and time-consuming endeavour. One of the features of network management system deployment that can alleviate such an overhead on the business is the delivery of NMS as a Service.
At CG Technologies, we know that one size does not fit all and believe in custom solutions geared to your business’s specific needs and budget. As your business grows or your complexity increases, we work with you to scale your solution always to fit your needs – current and future.
With over 25 years of expertise, our team of professionals are more than capable of handling the design, implementation, security, maintenance, management and troubleshooting of all IT related systems. Our technology partners are some of the most reputable brands in the technology industry. We only bring the very best solutions when it comes to technology, hardware, software and security to our clients.
Our network management service takes a proactive approach, checking your critical systems every hour, every day. Our monitoring system scans your network in real-time and provides immediate alerts in the event of any issues. We take one step further than simply alerting you to potential issues; we’ll also attempt to immediately remedy the issue without intervention, disruption or escalation to your business.
You have complete insight into the total health of your network; We include a comprehensive monthly report to show you network logs and key activities for each month. Our full suite of IT services means we’ll partner with you from the initial design phase to launch and rollout and long afterwards as you grow. If you’d like to know more, get in touch with us.