Last Updated 11 Feb 2020

Network management and the changing milieu

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A ‘network’ can be described as “a system used to link two or more computers.” [1]

There are network connections that are used in the process: (1) the physical connections, which pertain to the medium that are used in sharing files, programs, etc.; and (2) the logical connections, which pertain to the protocols used in sharing files, programs, etc.[2]  However, in order to share and open files, messages, programs, and/or devices, a network needs proper management for its three layers of the application software, network software, and network hardware to work accurately and efficiently.  This paper will revolve around network management, its importance to the society, the state of network management nowadays, and how information systems like networks can be managed more effectively in the future.

Network management is “the activities, methods, procedures, and tools that pertain to the operation, administration, maintenance, and provisioning of networked systems.”[3]  There are certain significant functions that are used in managing a particular network, and these should include each of the following: (1) controlling, (2) planning, (3) allocating, (4) deploying, (5) coordinating, and (6) monitoring.[4]

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There can also be the use of some access methods (e.g., SNMP, CLIs, XML) as well as schemes (e.g., WBEM, CIM), which support the transition of certain mechanisms that are used in network management.  By using the term ‘mechanism’ we refer to the managing of the agents, synthetic monitoring, the logs of activity, as well as the real user monitoring.[5]  Yet Cisco Systems, Inc. has defined network management more specifically as “a service that employs a variety of tools, applications, and devices to assist human network managers in monitoring and maintaining networks.”[6]

Despite the reliability of connecting computer applications and programs nowadays, the functioning of these devices is also being influenced by the characteristics of other protocols, other connections, and other devices, which may not always be perfect.  There are crucial elements that go in between the processing of networking, which may hinder or delay the progression of the activity or service.  For this reason, it is very important that network management is strictly and sufficiently organized, maintained, planned, and monitored, especially that networks are not always perfectly controlled, and that there are reliable as well unreliable networks that influence the transmission of data given a specific environment.

Companies in the 21st century usually go for 99.9% availability when it comes to network management.[7]  As stated in the Encarta Encyclopedia, “Networks are subject to hacking, or illegal access, so shared files and resources must be protected.”[8]  Certain techniques may include data encryption and authentication schemes, especially when dealing with issues that include privacy and protection of rights.  Others bend more on the purpose of autopolling network devices or generating certain topology that generates improvement.

It is said that the three most important elements of networks should include having “the lowest latency, highest capacity, and maximum reliability despite intermittent features and limited bandwidth.”[9]  While data is reorganized and transformed into smaller frames, packets, and segments, there are certain significant factors that affect the transmission of the data: first is latency or the time p of delivery; second is packet loss inside the intermediate devices; third is retransmission that leads to delays; fourth and final is throughput or the amount of traffic within a network.[10]  For this, network management appears to be the critical key in making sure that the network functions well despite failures, attacks, and the inconsistencies that are mostly crucial in any type of society or network.

Nowadays, network management is set more on the use of certain protocols like the use of ‘Simple Network Management Protocol’ or SNMP, or the use of ‘Common Management Information Protocol’ or CMIP.[11]  Since the 1980s, when there was “tremendous expansion in the area of network deployment,”[12] and companies went into the trend of building and expanding their networks from different types of network technologies, organizations saw the need for an automated network management that could be functional in diverse situations and environments in certain occasions inside and outside the country.

The improved basic structure that has then been used was usually composed of a set of relationships that follow a specific paradigm: end stations or managed devices, which run the specific software, which alerts the staffs (through computers) whenever problems, inconsistencies, or emergencies arise.[13]  It may also include certain end poll stations that check other specific variables through automatic or user-initiated polling, and where certain ‘agents’—or managed devices—respond and store data, which the management staff of a network system produces through protocols.  The state of network management revolves in an architecture that links all the computers through a management entity that connects the rest of the agents with the use of a proxy server, in the management database of the device.

With all these, James McKeen insisted in his book entitled ‘Making IT Happen: Critical Issues in Managing Information Technology’ that there is a rapid, changing role in the IT milieu: the two forces of relentless business pressures and rapidly evolving technology landscape,[14] which both bring greater risks within a changing technology environment around the globe.  Thus, it is evident that information systems, such as networks, can be managed more effectively in the future by producing better, faster, more agile architectures and functions that can break through beyond these two forces of change.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

“Chapter 6: Network Management Basics.” Internetworking Technology Handbook, no.1-58765-001-3 (2006). Database on-line. Available from Cisco Systems, Inc.

McKeen, James D. Making IT Happen: Critical Issues in Managing Information Technology. England: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2003.

“Network (computer systems).” Encarta Encyclopedia (2007): 1-2. Database on-line. Available from MSN Encarta.

“Network Management.” Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia (2008). Database on-line. Available from the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. database.

 “Network Performance Management.” Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia (2008). Database on-line. Available from the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. database.

[1] “Network (computer science),” Encarta Encyclopedia (2007) [database on-line]; available from MSN Encarta, p. 1of 2.
[2] Ibid.
[3] “Network Management,” Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia (2008) [database on-line]; available from the Wikimedia Foundation, Incorporated database.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Ibid.
[6] “Chapter 6: Network Management Basics,” Internetworking Technology Handbook (2006) [database on-line]; available from Cisco Systems, Inc, accession number 1-58765-001-3, p. 1 of 6.
[7] Internetworking Technology Handbook, 1.
[8] Encarta Encyclopedia, 2.
[9] “Network Performance Management,” Wikipedia Online Encyclopedia (2008) [database on-line]; available from the Wikimedia Foundation, Incorporated database.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid, 2.
[12] Internetworking Technology Handbook, 1.
[13] Ibid.
[14] James D. McKeen, Making IT Happen: Critical Issues in Managing Information Technology (England: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2003), 1.

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