Managing today’s enterprise network is more challenging than ever before. Most network infrastructure is no longer centralized, and we frequently need to incorporate cloud, SaaS, and other third-party services and technologies into our network architecture and management strategies. Plus, almost all business operations rely on the availability and performance of network services, which means any latency or downtime can lead to severe business losses.
Let’s take a closer look at the top network management issues that enterprise IT teams face, and discuss practical tools and methodologies you can use to overcome them.
Top 4 network management issues and how to overcome them
1. Network security
Security remains one of the most significant issues in enterprise network management, and it continues to grow more challenging every day. Every new device you connect increases your attack surface, giving hackers another potential access point to your network.
Your enterprise will soon find that attempting to reduce or defend an ever-increasing attack surface is no longer a feasible network security strategy. Instead, you should focus on identifying your protect surface – the business-critical data, applications, assets, and services (or DAAS, for short) that are most valuable to hackers and most important to your enterprise. Then, you can implement a “micro-perimeter” of security controls,and policies around each protect surface. By focusing on small, limited protect surfaces instead of one large attack surface, you can ensure that your DAAS are identified and protected by the security policies and controls that are best suited to the job
Another network security issue is that cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated and difficult to detect. Old signature-based firewalls and anti-malware programs are now less effective due to an increase in zero-day exploits and other novel malware that doesn’t fit established patterns. Luckily, network security tools and appliances are evolving to address these types of threats. For example, some intrusion detection and prevention systems and next-generation firewalls use neural networks and other machine learning technologies to monitor network traffic, analyze user and device behavior, and detect and respond to signs of a breach.
It’s important to remember that security tools are only part of the equation—you also need comprehensive security policies and user guidelines, as well as a robust set of plans and procedures in place. Hence, your teams know what to do in the event of a breach.
2. Visibility control
It’s impossible to successfully manage a complex network without complete visibility on all of your network devices, users, data, and applications. For large enterprises, this becomes extra challenging when some or all your network infrastructure resides in the cloud. Different cloud providers offer different monitoring levels and visibility on their platforms. Without visibility of your entire network, your risk of performance issues, outages, and security breaches increases.
To overcome this issue, you need a comprehensive network monitoring solution that can automatically detect and add any new users, devices, or software that connect to your network, so you have immediate visibility. Your monitoring tools should also allow you to examine all network traffic and transactions so any unusual or suspicious behavior can be flagged, investigated, and mediated before any real damage is done. Suppose you’re running a cloud, hybrid, or multi-cloud infrastructure. In that case, you should ensure your network monitoring solution can integrate with and provide complete visibility on all your cloud environments, rather than patching together multiple tools.
Implementing a platform-agnostic network monitoring solution with automation functionality will simplify your network management and ensure no parts of your infrastructure are left in the dark.
3. Network performance
Businesses can’t run efficiently unless their networks are operating at peak performance. However, today’s networks need to handle traffic from more devices while being available 24/7. Plus, network devices are processing more data and performing complex operations to meet market demands.
The key for large enterprises with complex network infrastructures is automation. Companies can efficiently automate many network performance monitoring tasks, alarms, and mitigation tools to ensure issues are detected and resolved as quickly as possible without any risk of human error. Some examples of network infrastructure automation tools include Ansible, Chef, and Puppet.
When implementing an automated solution, it’s essential to establish your environment’s unique network performance baselines and set priority levels for specific performance metrics that are more or less important to your organization. Your network isn’t the same as anyone else’s, so optimal performance for your enterprise may not look the same as anyone else’s either.
4. Configuration management
Every new device and account connected to your network must be configured correctly to avoid performance issues and security vulnerabilities. Configuration management is easy enough on a small local area network (LAN) with a handful of devices, but modern enterprise networks are significantly more complicated.
Misconfigured network devices and accounts can introduce significant risks to your network. A recent study in Europe found that 82% of security vulnerabilities were caused by misconfiguration of user accounts, firewalls, and other network objects. However, as our network infrastructure becomes more convoluted, it’s difficult for engineers to learn and remember the specific configurations for all of our accounts and devices. Just like performance monitoring, enterprises are also turning to automation to help overcome this network management issue.
Automated configuration management tools allow engineers to apply configurations to new devices with a single button press, removing human error from the equation. Automated identity and access management (IAM) solutions give you the same capabilities and user accounts, and access permissions.
In addition, many DevOps teams are turning to infrastructure as code (IaC) methodologies and tools. Infrastructure configurations are written as automated code deployed to devices as needed, eliminating the need for complicated documentation and manual setups.
You can use network automation tools to execute simple management tasks. However, if you’re interested in applying automation to entire processes and workloads, you need to consider orchestration. Network orchestration, also known as software-defined networking (SDN), uses a network controller to “orchestrate” the automatic configuration and management of network devices, applications, and services. Network orchestration simplifies network management for IT teams and provides a more seamless end-user experience.
Discover the right solutions for your network management issues
As your networks grow more complex, managing issues escalates as well. Large and growing enterprises must be aware of the most common network management issues to discover the right solutions for any specific complication they need to prevent.
An automated and comprehensive network monitoring solution is crucial for overcoming network performance, management, visibility, and security complications. ZPE Systems Nodegrid is an innovative network management solution that can help you address the most common vulnerabilities.