Select Page

Do You Really Need Enterprise Class Network Management?

Download PDF

Is your company ready for an enterprise-class network management system?

This paper begins with an overview of the basic categories of network management products, followed by a discussion of the key features of a great enterprise management system and the signs that a business may be ready for an enterprise-class solution.

The Goal of Network Management

The ultimate goal of network management is to lower risk, eliminate downtime and slowdowns, minimize variability, and actively support business expansion. The amount of business conducted that doesn’t rely on available and performing networks is small and shrinking. A good network management system is an indispensable asset that protects the company from slowdowns and catastrophic outages that would have major business impact. But what kind of network management product do you need? Has your network reached the point where enterprise class features are necessary? If so, what does a great enterprise system look like?

enterprise sign

The Network Management Landscape

Network management products typically fall into three basic categories.

Free Tools

There are free tools, some of which are basic versions of the above SMB products. These usually require manually loading devices into the system and offer a basic level of pinging or SNMP polling. They provide little to no elemental performance data and may offer rudimentary events, such as up/down device status. These tools are best suited for small networks of about 20 to 30 devices.

Intermediate SMB

At the next level are low-end to intermediate SMB solutions. Like framework solutions, they involve multiple products and/or “add-ons” that require at least some integration. They usually come with a low initial price tag and cover a range of functional areas such as discovery, inventory, and events, and, in intermediate solutions, some level of autodiscovery, performance, flow, and technical reporting or graphing capabilities. Data collected by these products is not as deep as that of enterprise class solutions, although some can be extended through programming. These may be effective products for smaller networks, but as networks scale bottlenecks may occur, especially in those designed with a central database.

Enterprise Class Solution

Enterprise class solutions let you manage the latest technologies and devices. These products provide sophisticated features for all of the requisite network monitoring functions, including detailed discovery and auto-discovery, inventory, events root cause analysis (with features such as downstream event suppression and rules), deep elemental and flow monitoring, performance, topology, configuration, and technical and business-focused reports and dashboards.

This category includes “legacy” framework solutions, which comprise multiple point products that must be individually integrated and maintained. It also includes “all-in-one” solutions where all (or most) functionality is embedded in a single software stream, with limited or no integrations and simpler scaling depending on the product’s architecture. Both framework and all-in-one enterprise solutions offer unlimited scalability, although all-in-one solutions tend to be less labor intensive due to their more unified designs.

Evaluating Network Management Products

Many IT directors evaluate network management products without a strategy, often considering a broad mix of free tools, low-end to intermediate SMB products, and enterprise class solutions at the same time. That’s like going car shopping and looking at a Yugo, a Porsche, and a Sherman tank. It begs the question: what are you going to do with this vehicle: pick up your children from school (safe car), take your mother-in-law to the hairdresser (cheap car), invade a small country (massive weapon), or race in the Indy 500 (fast car)?

Let’s look more closely at enterprise class. What does that mean, and is it for you? Not everyone needs enterprise level network management. If you have a network of only a dozen devices that are all stored in the same closet, you likely don’t need an enterprise solution. Free or SMB tools will suffice. They’ll tell you if the device is up or down in a simple list, and if you need to reboot a device, you simply go to the closet and turn it off and on again.

The first sign that you need an enterprise class network management solution is when it is really important that the network be continually up, but you can no longer draw a picture of your network on a whiteboard. When a network gets to be a few hundred devices or larger, you can no longer completely understand it. Therefore, you can no longer troubleshoot it in your head. This is when you need a management solution that can “crawl” the network and do it for you.

There are fundamental capabilities you should expect from an enterprise class network management solution as outlined in the next sections.

Enterprise-Class Network Management Solution

R

Discovery of Device Inventory and Topology

You cannot be expected to manually load the network device inventory into a network management system. It must auto-discover what you have, and do so continually. Networks change. Frequently. Furthermore, it must also discover the topology of the network, not require you to manually input what you think is how the network is connected. This sounds pretty basic, but it’s surprising how many SMB solutions cannot do this.

R

Root Cause Analysis

Lower end products are “red light / green light” products: they tell you what is up and what is down, in a list. Lists are useful when there are only a dozen or so devices in the network, but when there are hundreds or thousands of devices, lists are useless. You need a solution that not only tells you that something is wrong, but also tells you where the problem is. Dozens of network devices may be unreachable, but there is likely only one that is the true cause of the problem. This is why topology is so important.

R

Performance

A network that’s performing poorly is actually worse than a network that’s down. If your network is down, you go do something else to be productive. If a network is just very slow, you sit in front of your computer waiting for things to happen, wasting time and getting frustrated. A good enterprise-class network management system monitors the performance of the network at the device level and with an eye toward application flow as well.

R

Configuration

Though it’s widely accepted as truth that 90% of the problems on a network occur as a result of someone changing something, it’s remarkable how few network management solutions integrate device configuration change management into their solutions. It’s either a “bolt-on” afterthought or it’s completely missing. Network change management is no longer a separate solution. It’s a part of every-day operations.

R

Reporting

A management solution is only as good as the information you can get out of it. Every IT department must justify themselves to the senior management of the company (and to their customers). That means they must prove to their constituents that they’re providing the service to which they committed. Different “customers” want to see data at different levels of technical complexity, and a good network management system allows them to easily create and view appropriate dashboards and create reports at the CIO level, as well as at the technical user level.

R

Service Level Monitoring

You can think just of managing components: how they interrelate, how they’re connected, their health, and so on, but grouping those components and monitoring them as a service to meet SLAs and/ or ensure that end user needs are being met is what ultimately matters.

Monitoring at the service level is especially important for large networks where you can no longer keep track of every component in your head. In larger networks, appreciating the business relevance of each component means you must be able to monitor them as sub-components working together to deliver a service.

R

Proactive Management

An enterprise-class network management system warns you before the fact that you have a problem. Lower-end tools tell you that something has gone wrong after the fact. This is not acceptable for mission-critical networks. An enterprise-class management solution will tell you things like the secondary power supply on your core router has failed and you are running on your primary, or the temperature on this switch is rising and the fan is failing—at this rate, it will overheat tomorrow. Issues are identified before they become problems.

R

Intelligent Event Management

As data grows, so do the problems that accompany it. An enterprise-level business will produce far more data than any network engineer can handle, threatening to overwhelm them with alert storms. But for the most accurate insight into the network’s operations, you need all of that data, as well as comprehensive categorization of events far beyond a simple ‘up/down’ status. Enterprise network management software will make sense of this vast sea of data and reduce the noise to a manageable volume displaying what needs to be seen, without engineers having to sift through to find the most important issues.

R

Technology-friendly

It’s not just network size and distribution that is growing, but also the sophistication of the technology and protocols that keep the network running. As data and service demands increase, more technologies are required to keep an eye on how your network is functioning. However, because of scaling and resource issues, network management tools aimed at small businesses will be unable to cover the same degree of complexity that an enterprise solution can. High-end enterprise network management solutions can offer a host of crucial monitoring technologies for flow, NBAR, SDN and the cloud, to name but a few. These will only become more prevalent and therefore vital to ensuring excellent network performance.

R

Machine Learning

Though not yet mature, machine learning represents the next generation of technologies that will help the network engineer keep their network running. It is part of the current trend, embodied by methodologies such as AIOps, that employs technology in a capacity to assist and augment the human in their work. Big data has long exceeded the capacities of any human analytics, and so enterprise network management software now provides machine-based analytics to enhance both the accuracy and productivity of the people in the network operations center. Machine learning can help move a network team away from descriptive and predictive analytics towards a model of prescriptive analytics, where tools can help prescribe actions in the face of multiple future outcomes.

“Monitoring at the service level is especially important for large networks where you can no longer keep track of every component in your head. In larger networks, appreciating the business relevance of each component means you must be able to monitor them as sub-components working together to deliver a service.”

Network Discovery

Continual network discovery provides an always up-to-date device inventory of your network assets. ENA shows you more data than any other network monitoring solution.

Live Network Topology

Dynamic network topology maps offer comprehensive visibility of your network, locally and worldwide. Drill down into individual devices and ports and see impacting network incidents.

Flow & NBAR

Receive detailed analysis of flow information including conversations between source and destination ports. Observe network traffic patterns, trends and drill down to the exact cause of issues.

Configuration Management

Improve operational efficiency by pushing configurations to thousands of devices and ports within single- and multi-server environments. Monitor network configuration changes easily.

Reporting

ENA provides over 100 reports out-of-the-box to give you a comprehensive toolbox of analytics. A drag-and-drop custom report builder gives you the power to create your own.

Application Path Monitoring

Entuity SurePath offers real-time discovery of the actual network paths used by applications, giving your business deep insight into the network components their applications depend on.

Predictive Trending

Predictive trends can be added to any time-series chart, and projections made of what the network data might be in the future. This allows teams to spot potential issues before they happen.
s

Event Management

An advanced event management system organizes network alert data into higher-level incidents. Raised in response to one or more events, they allow you to focus on what’s important.

Powerful Dashboard Builder

Entuity has created the most powerful dashboard builder in the industry. Use Dynamic Dashboards to achieve in minutes what would normally take months.

APIs

Entuity RESTful API creates efficiencies for organizations with large networks looking to automate regular maintenance tasks in the NOC, or for MSPs needing to automate operations.

Cisco ACI

Cisco ACI helps IT teams automate workflows and help organisations shorten app deployment. ENA provides visibility of the SDN overlay and Nexus kit that Cisco ACI runs on.

Cloud & Virtualization

Networks are becoming more distributed, so it’s important to automate network discovery and maintain visibility across a multi-cloud stack. ENA enables you to track key metrics in AWS, Azure and other private cloud technologies.

Enterprise-Class Network Management Solution

R

Discovery of Device Inventory and Topology

You cannot be expected to manually load the network device inventory into a network management system. It must auto-discover what you have, and do so continually. Networks change. Frequently. Furthermore, it must also discover the topology of the network, not require you to manually input what you think is how the network is connected. This sounds pretty basic, but it’s surprising how many SMB solutions cannot do this.

R

Root Cause Analysis

Lower end products are “red light / green light” products: they tell you what is up and what is down, in a list. Lists are useful when there are only a dozen or so devices in the network, but when there are hundreds or thousands of devices, lists are useless. You need a solution that not only tells you that something is wrong, but also tells you where the problem is. Dozens of network devices may be unreachable, but there is likely only one that is the true cause of the problem. This is why topology is so important.

R

Performance

A network that’s performing poorly is actually worse than a network that’s down. If your network is down, you go do something else to be productive. If a network is just very slow, you sit in front of your computer waiting for things to happen, wasting time and getting frustrated. A good enterprise-class network management system monitors the performance of the network at the device level and with an eye toward application flow as well.

R

Configuration

Though it’s widely accepted as truth that 90% of the problems on a network occur as a result of someone changing something, it’s remarkable how few network management solutions integrate device configuration change management into their solutions. It’s either a “bolt-on” afterthought or it’s completely missing. Network change management is no longer a separate solution. It’s a part of every-day operations.

R

Reporting

A management solution is only as good as the information you can get out of it. Every IT department must justify themselves to the senior management of the company (and to their customers). That means they must prove to their constituents that they’re providing the service to which they committed. Different “customers” want to see data at different levels of technical complexity, and a good network management system allows them to easily create and view appropriate dashboards and create reports at the CIO level, as well as at the technical user level.

R

Service Level Monitoring

You can think just of managing components: how they interrelate, how they’re connected, their health, and so on, but grouping those components and monitoring them as a service to meet SLAs and/ or ensure that end user needs are being met is what ultimately matters.

Monitoring at the service level is especially important for large networks where you can no longer keep track of every component in your head. In larger networks, appreciating the business relevance of each component means you must be able to monitor them as sub-components working together to deliver a service.

R

Proactive Management

An enterprise-class network management system warns you before the fact that you have a problem. Lower-end tools tell you that something has gone wrong after the fact. This is not acceptable for mission-critical networks.

An enterprise-class network management system warns you before the fact that you have a problem. Lower-end tools tell you that something has gone wrong after the fact. This is not acceptable for mission-critical networks.

R

Intelligent Event Management

As data grows, so do the problems that accompany it. An enterprise-level business will produce far more data than any network engineer can handle, threatening to overwhelm them with alert storms. But for the most accurate insight into the network’s operations, you need all of that data, as well as comprehensive categorization of events far beyond a simple ‘up/down’ status. Enterprise network management software will make sense of this vast sea of data and reduce the noise to a manageable volume displaying what needs to be seen, without engineers having to sift through to find the most important issues.

R

Technology-friendly

It’s not just network size and distribution that is growing, but also the sophistication of the technology and protocols that keep the network running. As data and service demands increase, more technologies are required to keep an eye on how your network is functioning. However, because of scaling and resource issues, network management tools aimed at small businesses will be unable to cover the same degree of complexity that an enterprise solution can. High-end enterprise network management solutions can offer a host of crucial monitoring technologies for flow, NBAR, SDN and the cloud, to name but a few. These will only become more prevalent and therefore vital to ensuring excellent network performance.

R

Machine Learning

Though not yet mature, machine learning represents the next generation of technologies that will help the network engineer keep their network running. It is part of the current trend, embodied by methodologies such as AIOps, that employs technology in a capacity to assist and augment the human in their work. Big data has long exceeded the capacities of any human analytics, and so enterprise network management software now provides machine-based analytics to enhance both the accuracy and productivity of the people in the network operations center. Machine learning can help move a network team away from descriptive and predictive analytics towards a model of prescriptive analytics, where tools can help prescribe actions in the face of multiple future outcomes.

“Monitoring at the service level is especially important for large networks where you can no longer keep track of every component in your head. In larger networks, appreciating the business relevance of each component means you must be able to monitor them as sub-components working together to deliver a service.”

Automation and Device Support

A lot of this comes down to automation. Lower-end tools require you to manually control individual device settings, touch off reports, and load information into them. When you have a network of 10,000 devices, this is not an option. You need a network management system that automatically tracks your network inventory, runs regularly scheduled (and previously defined) reports, monitors and alerts on performance thresholds, and determines the root cause of problems.

There’s another issue that needs to be considered: device support. Lower end products don’t really dig into the network inventory since they don’t track performance or specific status of devices under management. They simply report that the device is responding or not responding. But higher order management products go into great depth of device understanding. When a network vendor comes out with a new device, the enterprise class managers need to add detailed support for that new device.

Unfortunately, the hardware vendors don’t necessarily ask the software management vendors what their release schedules are and then sync to them. It’s important to ask a network management vendor how long it takes to add support for a newly released device.

Finally, there is the issue of operation. All this functionality needs to be usable, not just available. The product needs to be easily installed, quickly learned, and integrated in a cohesive whole.

Integrations With Third Parties

As the foundation for all internal and external business transactions, the network underpins business performance. However, one should not lose sight of the complete IT operations suite, of which network management is an integral part. Enterprise class network management software brings seamless network analytical value to ITOps, enhancing the insights derived from other products with the network data and analytics that they would not find themselves.

So far, we’ve considered whether an enterprise-class network management solution is the best choice for an organization. We’ve also covered the capabilities that are essential in such a solution. Let’s now explore how Entuity Network Analytics delivers the best in network visibility for your IT operations.

oracle enterprise manager

Figure 1. Entuity Network Analytics(ENA) Integrated with BMC

All-in-one network management

Entuity Network Analytics is an all-in-one network management solution that delivers the advanced features discussed above in a single software stream. Above all, ENA fits with the way you work, so you can more easily meet shifting user expectations, and get started straight away with immediate network monitoring upon installation. ENA’s design gives you complete control of your data – what you want to see, and where you want to see it.

Playing well with others, it’s also known for its openness and automated data sharing capabilities that integrate with complementary solutions. This collaboration makes it simple to share filtered and relevant network data with the rest of the IT environment. This allows network information, including real-time events, status information and metrics, to be correlated with other IT components managed across the wider IT suite. In addition, network administrators can drill down for a deeper investigation into network activities, utilizing ENA’s detailed and highly automated monitoring of modern complex networks to further complete the total IT stack monitoring picture.

Providing pertinent details of how each aspect of the IT stack inter-operates helps operators deliver optimal behavior from the myriad of business services required by today’s large organizations. Adding detailed coverage of network technology and systems interconnections, Entuity extends the capabilities of the management team and improves their efficiency by taking the guesswork out of troubleshooting that may or may not have a network dimension.

Figure 2. Entuity Network Analytics(ENA) Virtual Interface

Figure 3. Entuity Network Analytics(ENA) Dark Theme

Entuity builds and maintains an up-to-date vision of the network infrastructure equipment, their interconnections, and the connections to hosts that use the network along with relevant metrics for Devices, Ports, Modules, Processors and many other concepts unique to networking technology. Expansive RESTful API functionality provides seamless integrations with vendors such as BMC and Moogsoft bring you the wider benefits of full stack monitoring and machine learning. Stay updated on service status, open incidents and device reachability as ENA enhances your overall picture of network health.

All this is available through the industry’s most powerful and customizable dashboards that puts you in full control, straight out of the box. Utilize the limitless flexibility of our dynamic dashboards that change as you navigate through your network, according to the context that you are looking at. Stay on top of network outages, events and inventory details at the click of a button. Efficiently sorting alerts into manageable events and incidents, our Event Management System (EMS) cuts down the alert noise and locates the most important issues for rapid troubleshooting. The simplified, efficient UI allows you to harness the full analytical potential of the ENA solution without losing any functionality.

oracle enterprise manager

Figure 4. Entuity Network Analytics(ENA) Interface

oracle enterprise manager

Figure 5. Entuity Network Analytics(ENA) Flow Management

Compartmentalize your network into Views and Subviews of different sections of your network, making it easier to manage or to reflect the divisions within your business. Create services to model network resources on the business services that those resources deliver. There are also many drill-down capabilities to accelerate workflow for typical investigative tasks, such as interactive charting of any combination of monitored metrics, rapid polling of statistics, remote terminal access into network device command line interfaces directly from the web browser and many more.

In addition, ENA offers a wide variety of reports are available, including a complete listing of all the devices and a breakout of devices by the manufacturer. All these presentations leverage the automatic and continual rediscovery mechanism that keeps Entuity updated as changes happen in the monitored network.

oracle enterprise manager

Figure 6. Entuity Network Analytics(ENA) My Network View

oracle enterprise manager

Figure 8. Entuity Network Analytics(ENA) Device Summary Dashboard

oracle enterprise manager

Figure 7. Entuity Network Analytics(ENA) By Office Subview

oracle enterprise manager

Figure 9. Entuity Network Analytics(ENA) Dashlet Types

ABOUT ENTUITY

Entuity Network Analytics provides network intelligence you can trust for faster insight, proactive monitoring and efficient management of today’s most complex networks. Designed for enterprises and MSPs, our enterprise-ready analytics support the digital workplace by simplifying network performance monitoring ensuring that the network delivers great end-user experiences. ENA easily integrates with major frameworks. Entuity’s technical support and services teams are frequently praised for their rapid response, networking expertise and involvement in special engagements. Founded in 1997 by two senior-level IT executives from the financial industry, Entuity is headquartered in London with US operations in Boston. For more information, visit entuity.com.

Entuity is a registered trademark of Entuity, Ltd.  All other marks and names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners.

Learn more about Entuity

We're trusted by some of the largest Enterprise businesses in the world.