Regardless of your company’s industry, network management is one of the cornerstones of your business. For better or worse, technology is a part of everything your business does. A functional and efficient network allows your business to thrive, and a dysfunctional network leads to headaches and mounting costs.
Network management is one of the key services provided by managed IT services and is the reason so many businesses enlist the help of a managed IT services provider. But it’s important for business owners and employees to have a baseline understanding of network management. Although a managed IT services provider or in-house IT employees handle the heavy lifting, understanding the signs and symptoms of IT problems can prevent recurring problems or worse—security issues. In this article, we discuss what network management is and five of the network management best practices.
What is network management?
Your network infrastructure includes the hardware, software, and devices which provide internet connectivity, communication, computing of any kind, and any other digital business operations both internally and externally. Network management refers to the management of all these moving parts. Whether you’re a small or medium-sized business without a dedicated IT team or a large business with a whole in-house IT department, you need solid network management. The size and personnel you have as a business will dictate whether that means bringing managed IT services or an IT consultant or some other IT partner, hiring full-time employees, or using the IT staff you have in-house.
Network management includes the people and systems put in place to do this big job: maintaining and monitoring your network so that your technology is consistently helping rather than hindering your business operations.
Network management best practices
Any business or IT professionals offering managed IT services worth their salt will know the best practices for network management. If you enlist a managed IT services provider, they will be guided by many of these principles for managing their client’s network infrastructure. Here is our non-exhaustive, yet comprehensive, list of network management best practices:
1. Create a network infrastructure map
When managing your network, you should be aware of all the hardware and software that make up your network. Routers, switches, servers, firewalls, patches… every component of your network infrastructure plays a role in the entire network working seamlessly. You should also be able to understand the design of how all these components are working together. There are many network topologies, network types, and network devices. If you’re managing a network, you should be able to describe it by the topology and type, down to each device within the network.
Knowing how the network’s composition will make it easier to monitor and solve problems should they arise.
2. Security, security, security
One of the most important parts of network management is security. Soon after familiarizing yourself with every part of the network infrastructure, you should come to an understanding of how to defend and protect each device or connection within the network. Identifying and evaluating the security measures in place is a good start. Then, implementing a security strategy and security best practice going forward is arguably the most important thing you will do as part of your network management. Activities like continually updating software, setting up firewalls, and implementing password policies with employees are all parts of security best practices.
3. Monitoring bandwidth needs
Another network management best practice is evaluating and continually monitoring bandwidth needs. Keeping tabs on users and usage will give insight into the devices and specific users that use the most bandwidth. Different seasons and times of day are important to note. Once you’ve made assessments, you can see where problems occur and fix those issues so no one, especially external users–clients or customers–are facing slow connections or other related issues. If you have managed IT services, they will certainly be monitoring bandwidth use and offering solutions where necessary.
4. Consistently backing up data
Also related to security, data backup is a major concern. In the digital age of cloud computing and with so much sensitive data online, data backup has become extremely important. Lost data now equates to lost dollars. Backup best practices can include system tests that restore all data onto alternative systems to make sure everything is working as it should. This is an effective way to make sure your backups are in working order. Cloud storage services offer a workable solution for backups that are accessible from anywhere. Network management should always include consistent data backup and recovery plans.
5. Evaluations, maintenance & upgrades
Technology is constantly evolving. Cloud computing and even wireless internet are relatively young inventions—barely two decades old—but we can’t imagine life or business without them. Smart network management includes constant evaluations for technology use, maintenance (such as improving bandwidth as needed or patching), and upgrades to more effective hardware or software for your specific business needs. If your network is not scaling with the business’ needs, it will inevitably become a source of downtime, security problems, or slow growth.
These are some of the biggest areas businesses overlook if they don’t have the right personnel doing network management. Managed IT services is an effective way to cover all three–evaluations, maintenance, and upgrades. This is especially true of upgrades, because managed IT service providers are experts in industry standards for IT and in network management, always looking for the best solution for IT problems.
These five points are not exhaustive. There’s a lot that goes into successful, holistic network management, and when done correctly, it’s something you don’t have to worry about.
At Royal Network IT Solutions, Inc., we think an efficient network should be the least of your concerns as a business leader. If your network management is lacking, we would love to talk about ways we can help turn things around. Our professionals have over 50 years of experience building, enhancing, and monitoring business networks in the Tustin and Eastvale areas of California.
Call or email us today for a consultation at (949) 236-7700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.