The Return of the Network Manager

By | August 7, 2006

VoIP is not the only one: the same could be said for web-based applications or distributed web services-based architectures. Contrary to popular wisdom, bandwidth remains an issue as new technologies and larger emails continue to add stress to the network.

It’s a trend that is, naturally, set to continue, as sysprog.net’s three laws of computer science indicate:

1. Wirth’s Law: Software gets slower faster than hardware gets faster;

2. Spector’s Law: The time it takes a critical application to complete a given task will double with every software revision of that application;

3. Nathan’s Law: Software is a gas: it expands to fill its container. And that container is the network.

Add in a fourth observation – the easier you make it for people to communicate, the more they will do so – and the case is sealed.

Configuration management might be exciting technology, but how do you provision, configure, enforce policy, and manage the configurations if you don’t know what you have or where it is on the network? You need somebody to keep track of it. Application management tools also generate a lot of interest, but how will they explain to a performance-challenged end-user that they should call the network group because everything seems to be OK at the application level?

The other piece of good news for network managers desperate to improve their standing in the IT team is that we are, finally, emerging from a long economic rough patch. Many organisations are considering an upgrade, or even replacement of the equipment they have kept running for four or five years.

However, the capital might be available for the first time, but there’s no guarantee that it will be spent on the network. ‘Request and bequest’ is over. Instead, IT managers have to justify every purchase and prove its value. Whether they are held to service level agreements and implementing ITIL best practices or not, network management professionals must deliver detailed, informative, actionable reports and justifications for any purchases to be made. That means they have to measure exactly which purchase will address the biggest bottleneck or deliver the highest return on investment.

An enterprise-scale network is a constantly changing entity, a fluctuating architecture, that constantly shifts either with or without the administrators’ knowledge or permission. But if compliance, auditing and enhanced security standards are to be met, this also needs to change and the administrator has to have a complete picture of the current state and structure of the network.

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