The Basic Ingredients of Network Management

Chapters 1, "Setting the Stage," and 2, "On the Job with a Network Manager," explored what network management does, why it is important, where its challenges lie, and what kinds of activities and tools are associated with it. But what does network management, at a very basic level, really consist of? First, there is, of course, the network that is to be managed, consisting of a multitude of interconnected devices that collectively shuffle data (for example, web pages, e-mails, voice packets of phone calls, and video frames) across the network. Second, there are the systems and applications that are used to manage the network, many of which were described in Chapter 2. In those systems the management logic resides, helping network managers to monitor the network and collect data from it, to interpret and analyze the data, and to send commands to the devices to affect the network's behavior—for example, to configure a port in a certain way or to shut down an interface.

So far, so good—we fully expected that it would take two to tango. But we are not quite finished. Third, the network that is to be managed and the managing applications must be interconnected so they can communicate with each other. Network management itself is a networking application, which creates an almost paradoxical situation: To work properly, network management needs a network that works properly so that management applications and managed network can talk to each other. Without this, it would be impossible to exchange management commands and management information. Of course, for the network to work properly, it needs to have proper network management in place!

Last but not least, beyond the technical components of network management, there is the organization behind it that makes it all happen and that is ultimately responsible for the proper running of the network. In the end, all the management applications and management infrastructure are merely tools that support an organization in managing its network.

In this chapter, we look at each of these basic components in a little more detail; they are depicted in Figure 3-1.

Figure 3-1 Basic Components of Network Management

Management

Support

Organization

Management Systems

Management Network

Management Network

Network Production Devices Network

After you have read this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

■ Explain the terms manager and agent

■ Describe what Management Information Bases (MIBs) are about

■ Explain how management agents, managed devices, and MIBs relate to each other

■ Explain the difference between in-band and out-of-band management communications

■ State the pros and cons of dedicated management networks

■ Describe the role of a Network Operations Center (NOC)

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