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Network Management

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Note: Many topics at this site are reduced versions of the text in "The Encyclopedia of Networking and Telecommunications." Search results will not be as extensive as a search of the book's CD-ROM.

Network management involves active and passive monitoring of network resources for the purpose of troubleshooting, detecting potential problems, improving performance, documentation, and reporting. This section discusses management applications and protocols, but of course, there are many other management tasks such as backing up data, providing security, training users, setting policies, and so on.

The ISO developed a network management model that maps out the major functions of network management systems. The model defines these five areas, which are explained in more detail in the Cisco paper listed on the related entries page.

  • Performance management    Measure and track network variables such as throughput, user response time, and line utilization.

  • Configuration management    Monitor network and system configuration information to track the affects of software and hardware elements.

  • Accounting management    Measure network-utilization so that individual or group use of network resources can be tracked and regulated.

  • Fault management    Detect, log, notify users of, and, if possible, automatically fix network problems to keep the network running effectively.

  • Security management    Control access to network resources.

A diversity of management applications and protocols are available. Full-blown management packages use agents to collect information from devices all over an enterprise network and send that information back to a central management station. The network administrator, working at a management console, produces reports and graphs about the state of the network from this information. Agents may also provide alerts that warn of problems or performance degradations. Most management applications of this type are built around the Internet's SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol). A newer extension to this protocol is RMON (Remote Monitoring). Both are discussed under separate topics.

Management applications are also available to provide remote desktop and configuration management, software installation and licensing management, network asset management, help desk management, performance and protocol analysis, resource and bandwidth management, capacity planning and simulation.

Many enterprises choose to outsource their management tasks to service providers that offer so-called "managed services." Service providers may take responsibility for a variety of functions, including communication services, applications, disk management, electronic commerce services, and any of the other ISO-defined services listed earlier. See "MSP (Management Service Provider)" and "Outsourcing."

New Web-based management techniques are discussed under the WBEM (Web-Based Enterprise Management) topic. The DEN (Directory Enabled Networks) and CIM (Common Information Model) topics cover systems for managing network information. Topics such Bandwidth Management describe the various techniques for managing capacity.

Copyright (c) 2001 Tom Sheldon and Big Sur Multimedia.
All rights reserved under Pan American and International copyright conventions.