Network management software is crucial for keeping today’s complex IT infrastructures running optimally. As companies increasingly rely on cloud, mobile devices, IoT, and other technologies that place demands on networks, having robust network monitoring and management capabilities is no longer nice to have but essential.
Effective network management results in increased infrastructure resiliency, lower costs, better security, and improved ability to support business objectives. Integrating network management tools into existing systems and workflows enables IT teams to centralize visibility, automate routine tasks, and leverage advanced functions like predictive analytics. This article guides planning for and ensuring a smooth integration process.
Understanding Network Management Software
Network management software refers to applications and platforms designed to monitor, control, optimize, troubleshoot, and secure data networks. Core capabilities include centralized network monitoring, traffic analysis, asset tracking, access control and user policy management, outage and alarm notifications, integration with other IT systems, and reporting.
Robust network management improves visibility and situational awareness, allowing IT teams to observe the current state of infrastructure and proactively address issues before they cause major disruptions.
It enables efficient infrastructure planning and automation of previously manual processes. Integrated network management arms IT teams with insightful data for continual optimization and rapid incident response capabilities.
Before deploying another piece of network management software, IT teams should assess their existing stack and determine where the greatest visibility and workflow gaps exist. What network performance blind spots need to be addressed? What manual monitoring and management tasks are eating up the most resources? Defining these needs will inform the right solution selection open-source vs premium, on-prem vs SaaS, and feature requirements.
Equally important is examining integration readiness – cataloging existing data sources, evaluating infrastructure for monitoring compatibility, and determining whether adequate bandwidth and storage capacity exists. With requirements established, proper resources allocated, and timelines set, teams should focus on implementation planning – server needs, access and policy management, phases of integration steps, and training rollout. Creating an integration plan with milestones helps monitor progress toward optimal adoption.
Step-by-Step Integration Process
The network management software integration process generally follows these key phases:
- Installation – Deploy product servers or cloud-based instances, allocating necessary computing resources. Configure administrative access and management policies on the platform backend.
- Infrastructure Integration – Connect servers, routers, switches, endpoints, and other infrastructure components to enable monitoring, data collection, and centralized device management through the software. May require installing agents on assets.
- Existing Tool Integration – Ingest data from complementary monitoring, analytics, and CMDB platforms to enable data aggregation within the network management system. Set up notifications, and workflows.
- Access Management – Build out role-based access control policies for network/platform interaction. Authenticate directory services to enable user-based policy and permissions within the management system.
- Customization – Tailor aspects like dashboards, topology mapping, and asset hierarchy to match specific infrastructure environments and team needs—set thresholds for alerts and map data to KPI metrics meaningful to the organization.
Common challenges like connectivity issues, incompatible APIs, and missing dependencies should be addressed promptly. Follow product knowledge base documents closely. Keep vendor support contacts on hand.
Training and Skill Development
Extracting maximum value from network management platforms requires investing in continuous training for network engineers, IT operations, and site reliability teams. Initial training workshops focused on platform navigation basics, core functionalities overview, and SOPs guide effective early usage.
Follow-on training expands into advanced analytics – leveraging AIOps event correlation for faster diagnosis, using telemetry data for capacity forecasting models, building custom network heatmaps, and robust reporting.
Well-structured knowledge transfers from implementation consultants augment in-house learning with expert best practices. Skills development should focus on building competencies aligned to key use cases within one’s organization – outage prevention, security auditing, public cloud monitoring, or whatever the infrastructure priorities.
Monitoring and Optimization
Post-implementation, priorities turn to tracking the adoption, stability, and performance of the integrated network management platform. Monitoring usage across different roles provides insights into which capabilities deliver value, and where additional training may be needed.
System metrics like server load, component outages, and tool latency help gauge infrastructure sizing needs. Analyzing alarm and event trends indicates where notification thresholds and workflow adjustments make sense.
Data overlays with existing tools validate end-to-end coverage. Feedback loops with engineers using the system daily facilitate continual enhancements to match evolving network and team dynamics. Over time, care must be taken to stay current on vendor version updates and any impacts of infrastructure changes on integrations.
Adapting to Technological Evolution
With technology changing so rapidly, future-proofing any IT solution ensures it continues delivering value over time. This requires planning on two fronts for integrated network management systems: infrastructure adaptability and software currency.
As new technologies get introduced into the environment monitored by network management platforms — new wireless standards, virtualization platforms, and public cloud services — assess their visibility coverage and upgrade software integrations as needed. Signing up for vendor evangelism updates keeps abreast of newly supported capabilities.
Software Updates and Skills Development
Likewise, as software iterations bring enhanced features, updates merit consideration. While bleeding edge upgrades may bring risk, staying current with vendor long-term support (LTS) releases every few years ensures continuity of bug fixes and security patches.
Equally important is evolving internal skills development programs to address emerging network domain areas in need of monitoring and management.
Planning for Next-Generation Systems
Future-proofing also involves developing plans today for next-generation replacement systems down the road. Building APIs and data integrations in a modular fashion, using standards, and thoroughly documenting existing customizations simplifies migration. As legacy systems eventually get replaced by next-wave modern solutions, these practices reduce transition friction.
As today’s enterprise IT environments grow exponentially more complex, leaned on to support always-on business objectives, network management software integration delivers a force multiplier effect for IT teams.
Moving beyond disparate monitoring tools, the visibility, workflow automation, and analytical insights afforded by modern, integrated platforms greatly facilitate infrastructure resiliency, optimal performance, lower costs, and minimized risks – ultimately powering digital transformation initiatives underpinning competitive business strategies.
Planning processes, disciplined adoption guidelines, and ongoing optimization practices outlined here pave the path toward extracting maximum value from one’s network management system investment.