The definition of an IT network today is much different than it was just 10 years ago. For decades, business networks were pretty much all physical in their connections, and they evolved from slow ethernet systems such as token rings, and later blocks of machines and networking equipment connected through routers and switches.
Today, networks have become much more virtualized and are not limited to either physical location or hardware because expanded wide area network (WAN) infrastructure and cloud networking has now become a major part of today’s enterprise computing. While networks themselves are changing, the need for IT network management has grown, and with each upgrade, businesses make to their IT system, they should consider investing in a network management system for several reasons.
1. Building Better Less Redundant Systems
Every network has to deal with the flow of information and having data transferred through important hubs. A lot of networking engineers have had to carefully route networking devices to end devices over the years in ways that avoid slowing down information transfer, not using up more IP addresses in a network scheme than needed, and preventing dead loops. Solid IT management tools can diagnose how your network is performing and offer quick insights to the kinds of changes you need to make to reduce redundancies and make the workflow more efficient. More efficiency means more production and less time needed to troubleshoot slow data transfers.
2. Enhancing Firewall Protection
Every network needs to have proper firewalls and access control installed, especially because a lot more applications are used for big data transfers both internally and across the WAN. More businesses need team meeting software with live video conferencing options, or even screen sharing and remote desktop services to be used across their networks. Software that has these capabilities can be very vulnerable to hacks and exploits, and therefore it’s important that firewalls prevent attackers from using the software to gain access to areas of business networks they shouldn’t have. Your network management tools can configure your firewalls and make sure apps and network connections are only used in areas that don’t compromise important areas of your systems.
3. Implementing More Security Protocols
Along with firewalls, it’s important to secure endpoints and implement protocols to minimize the risk of data being intercepted. That means your IT network should be doing what it takes to encrypt connections and prevent sniffers from getting access to external devices. Wi-Fi access points can be especially vulnerable to data sniffing. With savvy network management tools, you can manage encryptions for your internal servers, website access, VPN connections, and many other aspects of your network. Growing your business often means growing your network, and doing so means you’ll need to keep your incoming users connected securely at each step of your network’s growth.
4. Having Better Remote Management Capabilities
Since cloud networking runs a lot differently than in-house managed networks, you need to be able to monitor it effectively without being on-site. Plus you need to be able to scale up or down by adding in more physical or virtual devices, and your network management system needs to be able to perform tasks at a moment’s notice to allow this. Remote management can be great for monitoring your network resources and looking at where bandwidth usage and bottlenecks are occurring.
5. Accounting For Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Networking
The BYOD issue perhaps is the biggest scalability and security challenges that network administrators face today because it’s hard to say when a device is going to be coming or going. Some NMS software has started including policy enforcement for mobile device connections and authentication, but there’s still a long way to go with it. It’s important to have a solid written policy on BYOD and how your network will be used, but you can use a good NMS system to keep track of potential rogue devices and limit information where needed.
The bottom line is your business network will have ongoing needs for security and expansion, and your underlying network needs to be fast and reliable to meet both workplace and customer experience demand. But how do you know which IT network management system is right for your business? It doesn’t have to be overly complex to be effective, and if it’s compatible with big-name network vendors, chances are it’s well worth the investment. The most important issue will be rock-solid security, but you should also look for a system that can work across both physical, cloud, and hybrid infrastructure.