The network is the fundamental building block not only of IT itself, but of modern businesses on the whole. Its evolution includes dramatic advancements from wireless networks to the Internet of Things (IoT) and software-defined networking (SDN), resulting in a today that's complex, and a future that is bound to become even more so.
With that, managing the network has become a pivotal role, and so it's important for IT professionals to identify what's most critical today to ensure business success. Not only that, it's imperative IT professionals are also planning for the future of the network.
This slideshow, the first in a two-part series, outlines a new set of network essentials that is necessary to meet the challenges of today's network administration head-on. By focusing on these fundamentals, IT professionals will be equipped to handle any network-related challenges brought forth by IT's ever-changing landscape.
Mapping your network and understanding management and monitoring needs may be an afterthought with today's network complexity concerns, but understanding the inner-workings of your network has never been more essential. Getting a feel for the reality of your network's situation and then planning accordingly helps avoid poor decision-making and will allow you to confidently tackle future network issues.
Predicting growth and increased scale within an organization's infrastructure is no easy feat. To prepare for possible rapid growth and the configurations that come with it, make sure to integrate capacity and reporting tools to help plan appropriately for the future. In addition, IT managers must prepare guidelines and strategies to implement in the event of outages caused by unexpected growth spurts and network configuration changes.
(Image: Milan Markovic/iStockphoto)
Controlling wireless networks
The number of devices connected to the network has amplified over the past few years -- growing to potentially hundreds of thousands of devices and presenting new problems for network managers who are tasked with keeping BYOD in check while ensuring signal strength is strong. To mitigate these issues, network administrators must implement user device tracking, automated IP address management and wireless heat maps.
IT professionals must always remember the ultimate goal: keeping end-users up and running efficiently so they can remain productive. Essentially, if applications are slow, they might as well be broken, and the issues ultimately fall on IT. Applications are running the show and new technologies such as deep packet inspection are IT pros' best friend when it comes to solving issues related to application performance.
With the Internet of Things taking over networks in the coming years, it's important for organizations to understand that all of the "things" are connected to the cloud vs. the LAN, meaning more stress on the WAN and all components of the network. Through application firewalls, IP address management is under control and can assist in untangling device conversations. Not only that, firewalls can categorize device traffic to ensure critical traffic flows properly and efficiently.