Approaches to Management Integration

The integration problem is generally too large to be tackled all at once. Often there is a trade-off to make: Does management infrastructure have to be integrated all the way, thereby making management more efficient but more expensive? Or is it acceptable not to integrate certain aspects, to lower management integration complexity and cost, at the expense of operations that might be a little less efficient as a consequence? If a decision is made to settle for less than full integration, the decision of where to make the cut should be carefully evaluated. The cut should be made in a place where a high reduction in management integration complexity and cost results, yet operations efficiency is minimally impacted.

This needs to be approached in systemic fashion, one aspect at a time. At this point, it helps to remember that there are different dimensions in network management, which we discussed earlier in Chapter 4, "The Dimensions of Management." One possibility for integration is to take a look at these dimensions and decide which dimension is the most crucial for integration. This provides the starting point from which to tackle integration.

For example, in one particular case, it might be decided that integration is most important along the lines of management functions (integrated alarm management for the entire network, for example). At the same time, integration of different functions with each other (alarm management and inventory management, for example) might be of lesser importance. This integration approach could be a good fit in case of a network provider organization that is primarily grouped along functional responsibilities instead of different network technologies, for example. This way, the management infrastructure is integrated for the function that each group is primarily interested in. In the example, the fact that other management functions are not as well integrated is deemed less critical because an individual group will not be concerned with those other management functions and, hence, will not be affected as much by a lack of integration. (Having said this, some coordination between the groups may still have to occur and should be supported by the management infrastructure.)

Integration might also start with any of the other management dimensions, for example:

■ The network technology being managed—for example, addressing management integration separately for the core router network, for the DSL access network, and for the mobile wireless network

■ The layer of the network being managed, separating management of the physical transmission network from the switching and routing networks

■ The management layer, integrating service management on one side and element management on the other

The choice of which dimension to use as you begin integration is significant for management integration. When you are finished integrating along the first dimension, you can start taking on the second dimension that reflects your second priority. You might never get to the last dimension and your least priority, but you will end up with management that is integrated to a degree that should suit you well.

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