Why Mastering Network Management Is Key To Every-User Happiness

Let’s face it: Most users couldn’t care less how the network works. And for those of us who are networking professionals, of course, such is understandable. After all, how many people know how cell phones, computers, automobiles, the power grid, or indoor plumbing work?

Some things just need to be there, functioning and available.

For those of use who are networking professionals, we know that creating and maintaining such a state of affairs is vital, but usually anything but simple. We speak in a strange language. We work with equipment and software that is complex (often, depending upon supplier, even for us!)

We’re on call 24/7 … all in the interest of meeting that key objective of end-users, which is that the network just works. 

Trying to satisfy everyone

The level of effort, at least historically, required to assure this state of affairs is not well-understood by the rest of the organization, from senior management on down.

The technology is so complex, in fact, that many of those with enormous influence over all aspects of IT and network operations frequently deal only in abstractions.

For example, the CEO and Board of Directors care about security, and having a warm, fuzzy feeling that IT is aligned with the mission of the rest of the organization. The CFO cares that the network is cost-effective, and that budgetary limitations are respected.

And almost everyone else, again, is simply interested in reliability, availability, and ease-of-use. We must, after all, ultimately measure the value of investments in network solutions in terms of the productivity of end-users.

Bottom line: Thanks to the proliferation of connected devices on the network, networking professionals are the ones scrambling to keep all these stakeholders satisfied.

Juggling the variety of complex devices

There continues to be a steady stream of technology advances in devices that form the backbone of today’s networking. Particularly access points (APs) and Ethernet switches.

Advances in the performance of both have brought us to today’s multi-gigabit era, enabling IT organizations to meet the demands for capacity that form the core of network requirements. The goal is to provide services that meet the expectations of users, particularly with respect to handling all classes of traffic.

The real challenge in creating this state of affairs, however, isn’t simply in upgrading and adding APs, and provisioning more switch capacity.

The real challenge, instead, is in network operations. And here we bring that disconnect between IT operations and the perspective of the rest of the organization into focus. 

Mastering network management 

So here’s our thesis, then: Mastering network management is perhaps the most important key to meeting all of the IT requirements and objectives we discussed above. Get management right and everything else falls into place. 

Indeed, in RFPs we’ve written over the past decade, management requirements have moved from a footnote at the end of the document to the Number One requirement.

Yes, management is that important.

Next time, we’ll look at what management consoles need to do, and the complicating factors that degrade efficiency and hamper operations-staff productivity. And we’ll conclude this series with how we might address this challenge – and, yes, there’s in fact a lot that can be done!

All posts in this series:

1) Why Mastering Network Management Is Key To Every-User Happiness

2) Why A Mix ‘n Match Strategy Causes Network Management Headaches

3) Why Having A Single Pane Of Glass Makes Network Management Easier


Craig J. Mathias is a Principal with Farpoint Group, an advisory firm specializing in wireless networking and mobile IT. Founded in 1991, Farpoint Group works with technology developers, manufacturers, carriers and operators, enterprises, and the financial community. Craig is an internationally-recognized industry and technology analyst, consultant, conference and event speaker, and author. He currently writes columns for Boundless, Connected Futures, CIO.com, and various sites at TechTarget. Craig holds an Sc.B. degree in Computer Science from Brown University, and is a member of the Society of Sigma Xi and the IEEE.

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