The Changing Face of Network Management

Mike Fratto
Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • For vendor management platforms to be effective, they need to replace processes IT developed to get around shortcomings of previous platforms.
  • The management platform must provide all the tools needed for management at a low cost. The management platform isn’t a value add—it’s an integral part of the network buy.

I was talking to a friend who is neck deep in network management in a very large enterprise about some of the new technologies and features network equipment vendors are putting into their network management systems (NMS) with the lofty goal of providing a single pane of glass that has contextual views and workflows built-in. His response, after making a face like he just took a swig of sour milk, was “I’ve heard this all before and each time the platform was expensive and lacked the necessary features we needed. We ended up augmenting with other products. It’s not pretty, but it works.”

One part of the problem my friend faced was that network management products were long on promises and short on delivery. Device discovery was never 100% and network mapping sometimes resulted in impossible, Klein bottle style topologies which had to be corrected by hand. Another part of the problem was self-inflicted. His IT staff would use the CLI or custom built scripts to manage network elements which resulted in the NMS being out of date and constantly needing updating. A whole cottage industry developed to rationalize the NMS view of the network with reality but that’s because the NMS’s weren’t effective tools for IT. I think that’s changing. Continue reading “The Changing Face of Network Management”

Overlay Networks Are the Answer to Slow-Moving Service Provider WANs

Mike Fratto
Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Network operators are competing with enterprise technology for value-added services.
  • Enterprises, being more nimble, can bring up new services faster regardless of their service provider.

One day in 1994, I called my local telephone company about getting a foreign exchange line to a nearby city so that I could stop paying local long distance.  I was told the install would cost $1,500 and the monthly charge was $500.  I asked why it was so expensive, and the representative said that the prices covered the cost to run the line 30 miles and a monthly right-of-way rental.  My next question – “Can I see the crew run the line and do I get to keep it when I am done?” – was met with silence and then a “no.”  That was my first run-in with the rigid IT and archaic processes at a large telco, and it illustrates a problem IT faces today. Continue reading “Overlay Networks Are the Answer to Slow-Moving Service Provider WANs”