Unified network management: 5 functions to look for, 3 approaches to consider

While the approaches to unified network management vary by publisher, the evaluation of tools in this area is based on five core functions.

5 essential points

The main features of a unified network management platform are:

Multiple management functions . Some offers are expected to evolve, but network managers must look for a publisher that offers a number of management functions, or at least has them listed in its roadmap. According to Jim Frey, Vice President of Enterprise Management Associates, “It’s not only about monitoring availability, failures and errors, but also integrating a performance and a dose of configuration management. . So when you identify a problem the […] same product allows you to take corrective action. ”

A multi-network support . Unified network management tools should at a minimum provide visibility of wired and wireless resources. But it is increasingly necessary for these platforms to also be able to manage virtual network components (virtual switches, for example), as well as monitor the network performance of cloud services.

A multi-vendor support . With the exception of Cisco and HP Networking, few manufacturers produce both wired and wireless network equipment. As a result, many companies are setting up multi-vendor networks. Support for these heterogeneous environments is therefore crucial.

Reporting tools for multiple roles . Network managers are not the only ones who need more visibility. Given the increasingly important role played by the network in business activities, there is a need for reporting tools capable of analyzing the information of the network and presenting it to the various stakeholders inside and outside the IT department.

A recognition of the endpoints . Even though the feature is still under development, unified network management platforms are beginning to provide visibility into certain endpoints, recognizing primary servers or devices such as firewalls, provisioning controllers applications and load balancers. This marks a break from traditional tools, which provided a simple overview of basic network equipment, including switches and routers. With the growing complexity of networks, managers need a more comprehensive approach that allows them to target a particular device or to look at the network as a whole.

A different editors, different approaches

Unified network management is an evolving field. It is best to learn about potential publishers or contact them directly for their latest approach.

Three tracks are to be explored first.

The first is for network hardware manufacturers who offer integrated configuration management and monitoring across their entire range of wired and wireless products.

Cisco (with Meraki and Cisco Prime product lines), HP Networking Intelligent Management Center (IMC), Enterasys NetSight, Xirrus XMS, and Aerohive HiveManager fall into this category.

“Apart from HP, none of these solutions openly claim multi-vendor capability, though all of them integrate it, to some extent, at least on the wired side,” says Jim Frey. In addition, apart from HP and Cisco Prime, they all emphasize the wireless side of the equation, adding wired management only incidentally. In principle, you would not buy any of these products, other than HP IMC, as an integrated, complete, multi-vendor wired / wireless solution unless you invest in wireless devices from the same vendor. ”

The second track concerns network monitoring platforms.

Indeed, many of them now recognize, at least in part, wireless devices, tracking failures or availability. This category includes vendors like CA, Entuity, HP, IBM, Ipswitch, Paessler and SolarWinds.

Finally, the third path is performance management systems that publishers have improved to collect statistics and metrics from wireless devices and to decode the data. wireless protocols for troubleshooting purposes. Suppliers in this group include, for example, CA, Riverbed, NetScout, Network Instruments, SolarWinds, and WildPackets.

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