How to build good network systems

The building blocks of a good Network SystemAn efficient and reliable network system is essential for organisations in any sector. With technology being central to an ever-increasing number of critical business processes, an organisation’s ability to leverage their IT assets for increased efficiency and reliability has become a central part of their success. But maintaining an effective Network System relies on more than just the Network Management Software (NMS) that you choose: deciding how your NMS of choice fits in with the way your organisation works is equally important as your choice of software.
Deciding what your NMS will manage, how it will manage this, and who will be responsible for it might seem like obvious questions, but they will form the basis of your network management strategy. In this blog, we’ll look at the building blocks of managing an effective Network System, and how to get the most business value from your networking assets.

Building Block 1: What needs to be managed?

Although it may seem like a simple question that doesn’t require much thought, one of the principal stumbling blocks faced by IT departments – especially in large enterprises – is being too vague in their definition of which aspects of the network need to be managed, and by whom. For example, some infrastructures may include both classified and unclassified networks, while others may simply require the measurement of specific metrics. This is especially pertinent in an era where outsourced IT is increasingly common, since agreeing on which aspects of your network fall under your responsibility and which should be managed by an outsourced partner will go a long way to minimise confusion.

Building Block 2: Who will be responsible for managing this?

Once you’ve worked out the specifics around your network management strategy, the next step is to assign responsibility for each component within your organisation. The level of detail here comes down to the particulars of your network environment and the way you choose to manage it, as well as your organisational culture – initially, it’s a good idea to assign responsibilities to the departments within your organisation, but making an individual staff member within that department responsible for heading up the design, implementation and maintenance of your organisation’s network system will create a sense of ownership and accountability. Knowing who is responsible for what when it comes to your Network System will help avoid issues, and ensure that they are promptly dealt with should any arise.

Building Block 3: How will your Network System be managed, and how much authority will you give your network manager?

Depending on the requirements of your organisation, the specifications for a Network System are likely to be radically different from one business to another. Deciding which metrics are most important in ensuring the best possible service in your environment comes down to how traffic moves around your network, so setting good Quality of Service (QoS) policies and investing some time into proactive monitoring will give you a good idea of where your priorities will lie.
Once you’ve decided how you’re going to manage your environment, it’s also important to decide the level of control you want your manager or management team to have – it’s essential for your network manager to have a clear overall view of the way your network functions, and he or she should be given the authority to adjust the necessary parameters in order to achieve the required service levels. Policing network standards is often cause for conflict among staff, so it’s important to draw clear lines in terms of who is responsible for what, and ensure that these decisions have the necessary backing to be taken seriously.
IRIS has over ten years’ experience in the Southern Africa telecoms and ISP industries. If you’d like to know more about what goes into managing a stable and available network, download our Network Manager’s Guide for free today.

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