Lay a Foundation for Unified Network Management

eNews and Views Network managers should sell companies on value of a managed environment.

Since the official death earlier this year of network management frameworks including Computer Associates International Inc.s Unicenter TNG, fragmentation is the name of the network monitoring game.

IT managers should still push for a framework, despite the dismal failure of these products the first time around. The reasons why are increased productivity and reduced network management costs. The means are much less clear.

Novell Inc.s NetWare 6, as we saw in eWEEK Labs tests, has the building blocks from which custom-tailored yet centrally managed applications can be built. Using NDS along with NetWare file and security services, these new applications could be incorporated into a managed environment. This could significantly reduce costs, but only if IT managers win over line-of-business executives to factor in IT needs such as integrated security and technologies when measuring application performance.

This is a hefty task, considering that "standards" in IT are often vendor-biased and quick to change. Despite these challenges, companies such as System Management Arts Inc. (SMARTS), and SRI International are pushing forward with products that can help correlate network faults and security problems. They do this by drawing in information from a wide variety of sources—in the case of SMARTS, from routers, switches and other active network devices—then using flexible rule sets to draw conclusions and pinpoint problems.

This kind of centralization of management data is crucial to make data networks (and, increasingly, converged voice networks) function without driving costs through the roof. Managers should cling to technologies and products such as SNMP and log file analysis tools to keep tabs on the baseline functionality of their networks.

The key to survival however, is to have the vision and leadership to implement strategic IT decisions that lay the groundwork for a unified network management environment.

E-mail eWEEK Labs Senior Analyst Cameron Sturdevant