Network-management-systemBy now, you’ve more than likely heard the hype around the new episode of Star Wars, which hit cinemas around the world last night. Whether or not you’ve seen it is a different matter, but unless you’ve literally been living in a cave for the past few months, your chances of avoiding some variety of Star Wars-themed merchandise, advertising or trailers is close to zero. For an obscure science-fiction movie from the 1970s that didn’t even have a sequel planned, it’s an impressive feat to be the most-talked-about piece of pop culture nearly 40 years later.

But the trouble with a film being hyped to this extent is that, when push comes to shove, expectation often outweighs reality. That isn’t only applicable to films, though – it’s applicable to virtually anything, including Network Management Systems. So, in this blog, we’ll look at whether your Network Management System is more The Phantom Menace or Return of the Jedi.

Big names don’t always equal big features

In the early days of enterprise networking, there were two options: Cisco or nothing. Even though Cisco wasn’t the first to provide network hardware, it was the first big name in enterprise networking, and is widely recognised as the provider of the first successful commercially available network hardware products. For a long time, things followed this model – a few big names dominating the networking scene, providing far superior hardware to anyone else, and having the reputation to boot. Nowadays, things couldn’t be more different. The network management system market has experienced a veritable explosion of vendors, both Open Source and proprietary, and the ever-decreasing cost and increasing availability of network technology means that opting for the biggest name isn’t the best bet by default.

Another contributing factor to this is the trend towards virtualization of networking technologies. Computing and Internet solutions today are fast, agile and robust enough to accommodate the deployment of entire virtual environments, giving even small organisations access to the benefits of typically expensive and cumbersome networking hardware without having to put themselves in financial hot water.

Don’t let the marketing tactics win you over.

With today’s crowded marketplaces and an Internet filled to the brim with junk content, companies of all kinds need to try significantly harder to get their voices heard than they would have 10 or 15 years ago. The consequences of this are that even brands without much to offer can seem like a good investment at first glance. Most Network Management Software providers offer some kind of trial or demo so that you can try before you buy, and wise network managers should make the most of this opportunity before settling on a provider to feel the waters and see whether or not a particular vendor works well with your environment.

Set good SLAs to ensure you get the deal you agreed on.

Lastly, even if your Network Management Software seems like the best deal you could possibly get, the sad truth is that it might not stay that way forever. Without setting good Service Level Agreements (SLAs), it’s nearly impossible to challenge your service provider on shortcomings in service delivery. An ideal SLA should include specific conditions around the amount of uptime you expect, some baselines around bandwidth and the time you can expect to wait for fault resolution. In general, the more time you spend on making your SLA comprehensive, the easier it will be for you to get what you need from your networking solution.

To find out more about IRIS’ products, including our Network Management Software and Network Security services, please visit us or download our free Network Manager’s Guide to a Stable and Highly Available Network.