Network Management Belongs Front and Center

eWEEK Product Update: Forget the fads. Serious enterprise computing requires solid management.

Network management in the enterprise never went away, but lately it seems that the discipline is coming out for the first time all over again.

One reason for this is an emerging recognition that optimum network performance is crucial for two important areas: storage and security. Established players include Hewlett-Packards OpenView product family, Tivolis Performance and Availability products, and Aprismas Spectrum Integrity. A host of other vendors have mature product offerings for storage and security management.

Finally, vendors and IT managers, having ridden out the storms and fads of enterprise network management in the late 1990s have a much clearer vision of what these products should do and how they should do it. Todays net management wares should show network problems with a minimum of false-positive indications, integrate with established help desk systems to automate trouble ticket generation and dispatch, and integrate at least at a message-forwarding level with other management products. They should do it by using SNMP, RMON probes, packet sniffing and extensive trend reporting, usually in a fairly boring, text-oriented, Web-deliverable interface.

Network management is the cornerstone upon which enterprise business fundamentals are built, including e-mail and file and print services, and the next generation of business productivity platforms, including Web services, massive storage capacity and increasingly interconnected business transactions.

According to the common saw, networks and the applications that run on top of them are continuously growing both in size and complexity. Because this is true, IT managers need to gird themselves with tools that let them document, monitor, control and report on the performance of the business policies that govern the networks behavior.

E-mail eWEEK Labs Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant