Network consolidation. It is a massive undertaking for federal IT professionals. Complex and challenging scarcely begin to scratch the surface of describing just what it entails. After all, network consolidation equals more users, more devices, and more end points. Additional capabilities like device management are no longer “nice-to-haves” but are now a crucial component to understanding and managing the network.
Performing effective network and device management is a two-part effort. First, it involves setting up real-time monitoring to understand normal conditions and alerts that can notify administrators when there are deviations. Secondly, it involves having knowledge of what can change in network devices and associated behaviors that could signal potential problems.
With that in mind, it’s time to get in-the-know with your network. It’s one thing to know what federal IT professionals should be doing in terms of device management, but it’s quite another to truly understand how to get there. First, let’s ask: What information should you be getting from your networks? And how can you track behavioral changes and differentials to signal abnormal activity before it escalates?
Let’s take a look at it from a three-tiered approach. There are three simple steps government IT professionals can take now to put you ‘in-the-know’:
Move Past Mapping 101
For starters, commit to moving past merely mapping and taking inventory of your devices. Today, it is essential to understand which devices are connected and — just as important — how they’re connected. Invest in a leading-edge management tool, but don’t just dive headlong into the process. Research available solutions to find the tool that provides for all your complex needs, such as: providing network monitoring for on-premises, hybrid, and cloud environments. And find a tool that monitors the network path, so you can implement a hop-by-hop analysis.
Establish a Baseline
When you have the necessary monitoring tools in place, move on to step two: establish a baseline. Once you’ve moved beyond diagrams and understand how the network devices are connected, it is critical to get a baseline – and, a true appreciation for what is “normal.” Analyze historical data to calculate network performance thresholds to get a highly accurate understanding of status quo operations. If you clearly define “normal”, you’ll be able to quickly understand and identify abnormal activity, and thus be able to resolve abnormalities before they become problems.
Finally, step three: establish a proactive monitoring practice. Don’t just settle for receipt of raw tickets, emails and alerts about behaviors and operations. But rather analyze and correlate this information to other systems in order to create proactive alerts. This proactive stance will enable federal IT professionals to catch issues before end users and customers.
At the end of the day, being in the know is essential to protect your network.
What You Know Today, May Not be True Tomorrow
While it’s crucial to establish a baseline and understand your network today, keep in mind that information is continually changing. The work you’ve done to establish a baseline and set up alerts is no one-and-done task. You must continue to learn about and track network behavior. Only then can you continue to baseline according to history as well as newer trends.
Remember: being in the know is key. Get the right tool to monitor your network that puts you in the driver’s seat. Then, establish a baseline and continue to monitor and track changes as your network evolves. These three steps may be the most effective way to truly understand and monitor your network. Don’t be left in the dark or in the era of mapping 101. Understand your network, and you’ll really be in the know.