Network Management for Small and Medium Business
Network and Systems Management is an important process for any business, regardless of it size. The ability to know when, where or even how a process failed can save time or lost resources which equates to money.
Network Management is a broad term that includes many components. FCAPS (Fault, Configuration, Accounting, Performance, Security) is the most common term that describes each component.
Fault Management - The ability to determine when a device, circuit, or system failed.
Configuration Management - Track when, from where and by whom a system configuration change occurred including software, hardware and configuration.
Accounting Management - Track network and system resources for billing back to a business unit or customer.
Performance Management - Report system or circuit utilization in real-time and historical.
Security Management - Report and track who is accessing resources and alert on unauthorized use.
As a small or medium business with only a few computers, a server and a Internet router, why would I need Network Management.
Fault Management Example - Knowing when your systems failed an why is half the technology battle for small business. The last thing you need in a competitive market place is your primary application to be down while your competitor is operational. Get alerts after hours so you can prepare to have your IT Company there in the morning.
Configuration Management Example - Your administrator makes a change to a system and it causes an outage. What if they can't remember what they did and are unable to fix it. If you have configuration management software your can revert back to your old configuration or view the changes that were made.
Accounting Management - This is probably the least used in SMB Network Management. Network and System resources are expensive and Managed services providers need to determine who to bill back cost appropriately. Internet providers and cell phone providers use accounting to determine how long you have used the Internet or the amount of minutes you talked.
Performance Management Example - This is closely tied to Fault Management. PM monitors system and circuit utilization in real-time and historically to identify issues before they occur. Systems have memory leaks which can be alerted on at specific intervals. Circuits can become congested during peak times of the day or because of run away processes. These can also be identified historically and alerted on before you experience significant impact.
Security Management Example - Determining the times and dates people login to your remote access solution, denied firewall traffic and IDS logs can all assist in tracking down and resolving security breaches, assist in cases that may go to court and overall troubleshooting.
What do I use?
There are hundreds of network and system management solutions. Below are 4 that are well suited for SMB's, 3 of the 4 I have used in the past. They are low cost, easy to implement.
Cisco Monitor Manager and Director - If you are a Cisco SMB customer, this is the way to go. Monitors all aspects of the UC500 from the IP Phone, Phone Line utilization (so you can plan for additional lines), system utilization, etc. Alerts can be sent to a Cisco Partner who can diagnose the issue.
SpiceWorks - Free tool that monitors network, servers, pc's and has a Help Desk Portal
AdventNet - Cost effective management solutions that encompasses a wide range of products that integrate into each other.
SolarWinds Orion - Cost effective network, system and configuration management solution for Medium to Enterprise customers.
Who is managing the alerts?
There are many outsourced network management companies that will take action on alerts but it is usually a set type of alerts, response times, etc. It can be very limiting. If you are a Cisco SMB customer, a Cisco Partner can assist with managing the alerts from Cisco Monitor Manager.
Aaron Magruder (816) 566-0017 NonStop Networks, LLC