The right combination unlocks greater network visibility and control

ManageEngine has launched OpManager Plus, a tool that is unique in integrating five network management modules in one console.

ManageEngine recognises the increasing trend towards employees working with their own devices (BYOD) and the steady development of collaborative and remote working that are shaping the IT administrator’s list of daily chores. Allied to this is the rapid explosion of IoT technology with analysts IDC predicting this year that by 2018, the number of IoT devices will more than double, leading to the development of 200,000 new applications. 

On top of all this comes the burgeoning threat of cyber-attacks and security breaches, with new exploits emerging every month. Aware all these pressures on IT administrators, 

1. What sort of problems arise from using multiple, separate tools for the various aspects of network management? 

Two major issues arise when using multiple tools for network management. One is the lack of correlation between data—it requires great effort to gather data from all tools in order to find out the root cause of an issue. The second issue is the maintenance footprint. Each of these tools has to be upgraded, backed up, and maintained separately, all of which involve a lot of manual effort. 

2. For enterprises, what sort of effect does this have on cost and staffing? 

The more tools being used, the bigger the management footprint becomes. Each tool requires separate hardware, operating systems, patching, backups, etc. All of these increase the capex and opex and require more staff to run the tools. 

3. How does this complicate upgrades and maintenance? 

Each piece of management software requires periodical backups and upgrades. The more tools being used, the more of a nightmare this becomes for the network team. This is because whenever they pull out or shut down any tool for maintenance, they lose the network performance visibility that tool provided. If there are fewer tools, or if these tools are consolidated, these issues can be reduced or avoided. 

4. What sort of problems arise in regards to compliance? How would an integrated network management platform address these problems? 

All compliance mandate various policies and procedures such as managing firewall configurations, modifying default administrator password of network devices periodically, implementing strong access control policies, and more have to be followed by the network team. Chances for errors are high if manually done and it's time consuming. An integrated network management software supports various actions described in the compliance rules from a single console. It also simplifies their task by automating the entire workflow. 

5. What sort of impact will consolidating multiple functions into one EXE have on the functionality of IT teams? 

Consolidating multiple functions into one executable file is a boon to IT teams. From deployment, to operations, to maintenance, working this way is simple, as teams are working with a single tool that will be doing most of the work. Network teams, for example, can find more of the valid information they need in one tool. And they won't have to sift through multiple screens to find out the root cause of an issue.   

6. What events should trigger alerts and notifications? How will this benefit IT administrators? 

In IT management, any occurrence that has an impact on the network or IT performance is called an "event." However, an event can be informational, a warning message, a troubled sign, or a cleared event, and only selected events should trigger alerts and notifications. Otherwise, IT admins will be flooded with notifications.  

7. How has the advent of bring your own device (BYOD) practices changed network management? 

What sort of challenges arise from so many unique devices being present in the workplace? BYOD adoption hasn't changed network management very much. Instead, it has extended its duties to include managing wireless LAN controllers and access points so that end -users can connect to IT on the move and carry out their regular business activities. However, BYOD brings its own challenges, as well. In particular, shadow IT and network security are two major challenges that BYOD poses to IT teams. However, with continuous monitoring of network bandwidth consumed by apps, IT teams can keep an eye on shadow IT and restrict the app or block it via a firewall. To ensure network security, they can also create strict authentication and password policies to connect to the enterprise network.  

8. How will tracking personally-owned devices improve the abilities of IT administrators? 

As most enterprises mandate authentication-based connection to their networks, it becomes easy for IT administrators to track users and their personal devices via Active Directory. In addition, IT admin can also use MAC address and IP address mapping to easily view the apps and URLs accessed by every user. This allows them to stay on top of all end user activity. The IT team can then analyse that activity and improve the performance of the network to meet the end users' demands.  

9. In terms of UI, what sort of new functionality have IT professionals been asking for recently?  

Social media and e-commerce sites have redefined UI expectations. They are very intuitive, attractive, and user-friendly, with functions such as scroll-free pages and auto-loading without page refresh. IT professionals have started to expect these features in IT management software, as well. They want the UI to be fast, load hundreds of reports, navigate across various sections using keyboard navigation keys and shortcuts, and more. 

10. How can businesses directly benefit from monitoring NetFlow and IP addresses? How granular should visibility be? 

Monitoring NetFlow helps businesses to understand the traffic that is flowing in their network. Without this, they will be blind and keep buying additional bandwidth. NetFlow provides top conversations, top source, and top destinations by traffic, thereby helping network admins to find out bandwidth congestion, if any. It also provides visibility into application-wise traffic that helps them to find out how much bandwidth is utilised by business critical applications. If it is low, then they can shape traffic to allocate more bandwidth.   Managing IP addresses is very important because they are directly tied with the devices and used as an identifier. 

Managing IPAM is very important for any network administrator because, the ability to immediately access information such as IP addresses in use, when they were allocated, to which devices they were assigned, and which user is using them is critical to identifying potential security breaches or attacks by internal or external users.

 Dev Anand,  director of product management at ManageEngine