Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, SDN Journal, @ThingsExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Network Device Management | @CloudExpo #BigData #SDN #IoT #M2M #API

This list will help you employ a strategy that makes sense for organizations today and tomorrow

Network Device Management for Today and Tomorrow - a Do and Don't Guide

Today, "network device management" means different things to different people, and the reality is that IT organizations do it, or at least do what they consider network device management to be, to vastly varying degrees, including some who do none at all (hopefully this isn't you).

At least part of the reason network device management has become such an ambiguous thing is because what we consider to be a network device is constantly evolving. At one point, network devices were largely just routers and switches. Back then, even if one added end-user workstations into the mix, things were fairly simple.

Then things started to get interesting. Wireless introduced a few more devices and, when BYOD started springing up, all you-know-what seemed to break loose. Now the Internet of Things (IoT) and other trends and dangers such as software defined networking (SDN) and shadow IT, respectively, are only complicating things even further.

I previously went into greater detail on these trends and more, and how to create a sensible network roadmap that breaks down what network administrators should be focused on today, and what we should be preparing for tomorrow and beyond. The reality is that network device management, no matter how you currently define it, is a major part of all three phases - today, tomorrow and beyond. On the heels of that write-up, here I attempt to better define the scope of network device management and provide a list of network device management do's and don'ts that will help you employ a strategy that makes sense for organizations today and tomorrow.

I submit that network device management can be divided into three areas, applicable across almost all organizations: configuration management, device monitoring and automation. These are the most essential elements of effective network monitoring and have stood the test of time.

With this framework in mind, here are several key best practices for getting a handle on network device management.

Configuration Management

  • DO: Systematic backups. You should have ongoing, automatic backups of network device configurations - not when you remember to run them, or when you start to get worried, but always. That also includes a system that triggers ad hoc device configuration backups in response to any significant configuration change. This will not only help ensure your network performs well, but will also aid in ongoing configuration management and identifying security or compliance issues.
  • DON'T: Forget to save. Network devices typically have two different configurations: running and saved. It's all too common for network administrators to make a change to a device, which changes the running configuration, but then never save it, resulting in the configuration changes disappearing when the device reboots. Backing up both configurations and then triggering an alert when they don't match is another handy tip.

Device Monitoring

  • DO: Truly understand your network. This goes beyond understanding the architecture diagram. It includes making sure you understand what "normal" looks like on your network and what "healthy" is for the devices in your environment even if you have too many devices to count. It means knowing - or knowing how to find out - what the patterns of usage are day by day, hour by hour, and at different points in the month. Basically, it means treating monitoring - the regular, consistent, ongoing collection of data from devices - as its own discipline and not just "the thing that creates all those tickets" or an item on your to-do list.
  • DON'T: Just sit there. Ticketing is the happy bi-product of monitoring, but it's not the end of the story. Work with the people who receive and respond to those tickets to fine-tune the alerts for greater insight. Also understand all the monitoring, alerting and automation techniques at your disposal. From SNMP to syslog, and from traps to configuration comparison, look at each capability as the treasure trove it is and leverage it for all you are worth.

Automation

  • DO: Be lazy! Okay, don't actually be lazy, but find ways to let the computer respond at 2 a.m. and if the problem clears up, let sleeping humans lie. Ask the fine people who make up your IT team, "What will you do once you get this ticket?" If they tell you something that can be automated, then you automate it.
  • DON'T: Be lazy! Meaning being the kind of monitoring professional who has a "set it and forget it" mentality when it comes to monitoring and alerting.

While network device management can seem daunting, following these do's and don'ts can help you ensure that you've got a grasp on it, not only for today's networks and associated challenges, but those to come as well.

More Stories By Leon Adato

Leon Adato is a Head Geek and technical evangelist at SolarWinds and is a Cisco® Certified Network Associate (CCNA), MCSE and SolarWinds Certified Professional (he was once a customer, after all). His 25 years of network management experience spans financial, healthcare, food and beverage, and other industries.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


CloudEXPO Stories
Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Chicago, Nexum® takes a comprehensive approach to security. Nexum approaches business with one simple statement: “Do what’s right for the customer and success will follow.” Nexum helps you mitigate risks, protect your data, increase business continuity and meet your unique business objectives by: Detecting and preventing network threats, intrusions and disruptions Equipping you with the information, tools, training and resources you need to effectively manage IT risk Nexum, Latin for an arrangement by which one pledged one’s very liberty as security, Nexum is committed to ensuring your security. At Nexum, We Mean Security®.
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (T-Cloud) is a neutral organization for researching new computing models and business opportunities in IoT era. In his session, Ikuo Nakagawa, Co-Founder and Board Member at Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium, will introduce the big change toward the "connected-economy" in the digital age. He'll introduce and describe some leading-edge business cases from his original points of view, and discuss models & strategies in the connected-economy. Nowadays, "digital innovation" is a big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies. IoT, Big Data, AI, FinTech and various leading-edge technologies are key components of such business drivers.
Doug was appointed CEO of Big Switch in 2013 to lead the company on its mission to provide modern cloud and data center networking solutions capable of disrupting the stronghold by legacy vendors. Under his guidance, Big Switch has experienced 30+% average QoQ growth for the last 16 quarters; more than quadrupled headcount; successfully shifted to a software-only and subscription-based recurring revenue model; solidified key partnerships with Accton/Edgecore, Dell EMC, HPE, Nutanix, RedHat and VMware; developed Open Network Linux, an open source NOS foundational component designed in partnership with Facebook and Google; and he played an integral role in raising two-thirds of the company's $120MM of funding. Prior to Big Switch, Doug was SVP & GM of Juniper Networks $1BN business across Asia-Pacific, Japan and Greater China, and he began his time at Juniper as SVP & GM of its Security bu...
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve full cloud literacy in the enterprise world.
Having been in the web hosting industry since 2002, dhosting has gained a great deal of experience while working on a wide range of projects. This experience has enabled the company to develop our amazing new product, which they are now excited to present! Among dHosting's greatest achievements, they can include the development of their own hosting panel, the building of their fully redundant server system, and the creation of dhHosting's unique product, Dynamic Edge.