10 Network Management Best Practices

In today’s connected world, a company’s network is the backbone of its business. However, the growing number of devices, endpoints, and technologies that enterprises use makes network management increasingly complex.

For example, the modern network now supports not just PCs and servers but also an ever-growing variety of smart devices like thermostats, door locks, and even vending machines. A State of IoT report by research company IoT Analytics projects that there will be 25 billion connected IoT (Internet of Things) devices by 2025.

Below, we discuss some of the most important network management best practices and also look at some future trends in network management.

Why It’s Important to Manage a Network Effectively

It’s critically important to manage a network effectively for a number of reasons:

To ensure optimal performance

A business can’t afford to have a slow or unreliable network. Not only does this impact employee productivity, but it also impacts the company’s bottom line. In order to ensure optimal performance, it’s important to regularly monitor the network and make necessary changes and upgrades as needed. Additionally, a plan for dealing with disruptions, such as outages or malware attacks, should be created.

To guard security

A network that isn’t properly managed is more susceptible to security breaches. Without a secure network, a business is at risk of being hacked, which could lead to data breaches and other serious security issues.

To ensure compliance

Depending on the industry, there may be certain compliance regulations that need adherence. For example, the HIPAA regulation in the healthcare industry requires strict network management in order to protect patient data. Failure to adhere to these compliance regulations could lead to hefty fines or even losing a business licenses.

Save costs on multiple levels

An effective network management strategy can help save costs on multiple levels. For example, by automating tasks, the need for manual labor can be reduced, which can help save on payroll costs. In addition, network managers can save on lost productivity and revenue by reducing downtime and improving network performance.

Guide disaster recovery

In the event of a disaster, such as a fire or a flood, network managers need to be able to quickly and easily recover data. A well-documented network management plan can ensure that a network is quickly and easily recovered in the event of a disaster.

Automate critical tasks

Network management software can help automate critical tasks, such as monitoring network performance, applying security patches, and backing up data. Network managers can free up time to focus on other core business tasks by automating these tasks.

Gather data for future forecasting

Network management software can also help network managers gather data that can be used for future forecasting. This data can be used to plan for future network upgrades, capacity planning, and more.

List of Network Management Best Practices

Below are 10 network management best practices that every organization should follow:

1. Understand the network

Good network management begins with a clear understanding of the network. Network managers need to have a clear understanding of its structure and components.

First, assess the big picture by mapping out the network topology. Then, identify the type of network (Ethernet, WAN, LAN, etc.) and become familiar with the devices that are used to build it (switches, routers, gateways, etc.). Finally, familiarize yourself with the OSI model, which provides a framework for understanding how data flows through a network.

With this information in hand, network managers will be in a much better position to develop a management plan that meets the business’s specific needs.

2. Identify critical infrastructure and systems

In any organization, there are always going to be mission-critical systems and devices. In an office environment, for example, the email server is likely to be one of the most important pieces of network infrastructure. If it goes down, productivity suffers.

For this reason, one of the best practices in network management is to identify these critical elements and give them priority attention. This means ensuring they are properly configured, monitored, and maintained.

3. Understand and implement security best practices

One of the best practices is understanding network defenses and implementing security best practices. Network security includes policies, processes, and practices for monitoring the network’s health; detecting vulnerabilities; and preventing unauthorized access.

Understanding network defenses can allow network managers to more effectively detect and prevent potential threats. By regularly reviewing these elements, administrators can ensure that the network is secure and running efficiently.

One example of a security best practice is restricting access to sensitive data. There are a number of ways to restrict access to data, including physical security measures like locked doors and computer room access control systems (RACS), as well as logical security measures like user permissions and data encryption.

4. Understand compliance requirements

While complying with regulations can be challenging, compliance is necessary to avoid costly fines and other regulatory sanctions. And one of the best ways to ensure compliance is to have a thorough understanding of the requirements.

Network management is a complex task, and it can be difficult to keep track of all of the different regulations that apply to a business. However, by taking the time to understand compliance requirements, network managers can develop policies and procedures that will keep the network in compliance with laws such as HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, PCI DSS, GDPR, and so forth, depending on the industry.

5. Train and retrain staff

Employees need to be regularly reminded of basic information security measures, such as password protection and avoiding phishing scams. They also need to be familiar with common network problems and how to resolve them. By ensuring staff are up-to-date on all aspects of network management, administrators can help to prevent costly disruptions and ensure the network runs like clockwork.

6. Monitor the network

Monitoring is essential to keeping the network running smoothly. Network managers can quickly establish a baseline for normal behavior and identify potential problems by tracking data from multiple users and devices. In addition, monitoring helps to ensure the high availability of critical systems and eliminates the need for multiple-point solutions.

By configuring a robust dashboard, network managers can easily keep an eye on all the important indicators of network health. And by watching out for alert storms, they can avoid being overwhelmed by alerts and maintain a clear view of the situation.

Check out our list of network management tools that are available to help with this task.

7. Create a disaster recovery plan

Disaster recovery is low-hanging fruit when it comes to network management, but it’s often neglected. That’s a mistake. A well-crafted disaster recovery plan can mean the difference between a minor setback and a major catastrophe.

The first step in creating a disaster recovery plan is to identify the most likely hazards. This will vary depending on the location and type of business, but common hazards include fire, flood, earthquake, power outage, and penetration by criminal elements.

Once the hazards have been identified, the next step is to develop strategies for mitigating their effects. This may involve such measures as backing up data, investing in redundant systems, developing evacuation procedures, restoring access to critical applications, and providing alternate connectivity options.

The goal is to minimize downtime and ensure that the organization can continue to function even in the face of a major disruption.

8. Automate tasks

Automation should be simple, with little risk and fast execution. For example, network staff can use automated device locators to discover where a device connects to the network, and check application connectivity. Automation can also help verify that each network infrastructure device is linked properly with its neighbor, and detect inconsistencies between parts of network configurations and company configuration templates.

Automating repetitive tasks frees up time for more creative work, leading to a more efficient and effective network management team.

9. Test the network regularly

It’s not enough to have a network that works; it needs to work well. That’s why testing is an essential part of network management. By regularly testing the performance of the network, network managers can identify and resolve potential problems before they become disruptive. In addition, testing helps to ensure the network meets the changing needs of the business.

10. Gather data for future forecasting

Network data can be used to predict future network needs. This is especially valuable when planning for growth or expansion. By understanding how the network is currently being used, network managers can make informed decisions about capacity planning and avoid over or under-buying resources.

Network data can also be used to identify trends and spot potential problems. For example, if there is a sudden spike in network traffic, it may be an indication of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

Future Trends in Network Management

The network management landscape is constantly evolving. New technologies, new challenges, and new opportunities are emerging all the time. Here are some of the most important trends that network managers must follow:

The rise of SD-WAN

Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) are becoming increasingly popular as a way to improve network performance and reduce costs.

The growth of 5G and IoT

The speed, capacity, and low latency of 5G will enable a whole new range of applications and services. But along with all the benefits, 5G will also bring new challenges for network managers. The sheer number of devices that will be connected to the network will be unprecedented, and managing all those connections will require new tools and techniques.

In addition, 5G networks will be much more complex than today’s networks, with multiple layers of different technologies working together. As 5G and IoT become a reality, network managers will need to adapt and evolve to meet the demands of the new era.

The rise of artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is beginning to make its way into network management, with the promise of simplifying complex network tasks and providing real-time insights. AI-powered network management tools are still in their infancy, but they hold great promise for the future.

The growth of edge computing

Edge computing is a distributed computing model in which data is processed at the edge of the network, close to the data source. Edge computing is becoming increasingly important as more and more devices are connected to the network. With edge computing, data can be processed quickly and efficiently without traveling back to a central data center.

The move to the cloud

More and more businesses are moving their network infrastructure to the cloud. This trend is being driven by the need for flexibility, scalability, and cost savings.

Kihara Kimachia
Kihara Kimachia
Kihara Kimachia has been a writer and digital marketing consultant for more than ten years. He has a great passion for technology and currently works freelance for several leading tech websites.

Latest Articles

Follow Us On Social Media

Explore More