It’s important to consider the past in order to understand the future. The future of network management includes an intelligent infrastructure system. Looking back explains why.
When I first started in IT many years ago, we had few options available to monitor network and server equipment. Typically, the monitoring software was too expensive and difficult to set up. It was really just “shelf ware” destined to sit on a shelf never to be installed. If you managed to get a little farther in the set up process and tried installing a server or network device, you’d inevitably hope for the best and scramble to make adjustments when things didn’t go well.
Now, an IT professional would never deploy any device that provides service on the corporate network without adding it to the monitoring system. It would be considered an oversight that would need to be quickly rectified when realized. These days, not monitoring a corporate resource is akin to malpractice. IT professionals count on network monitoring devices to allow them to manage and monitor all the corporate devices on the network. I can’t imagine supporting a network without these tools.
As great as these tools are, we’re still missing a key piece of information: What is going on with the physical layer? The current approach requires standing in front of a rack to see where a cable is patched, and you can still end up spending hours troubleshooting a malfunctioning device only to discover it’s plugged into the wrong place.
The other Achilles’ heel of network life is documentation or, more accurately, the lack thereof. How often have you had the best intentions for following through on documentation, but it’s often the last thing on your “to do” list and it never screams as loud as an end user? That, unfortunately, means it usually doesn’t get done.
An intelligent infrastructure management system holds the key to combating these problems. It combines software, controllers and intelligent patch panels to create a tool that allows you to add management of the physical layer into your holistic strategy for network management. This is an essential piece that’s missing in many of today’s network monitoring toolkits, but the technology is available. I’m convinced it’ll soon become de rigueur as part of the overall support strategy for our corporate networks. IT admin know from dealing with end users, in the end user’s mind “broken is broken.” They don’t care why it isn’t working or what your monitoring tools can’t do.
Have you implemented one of these systems, yet?
If you’d like to learn more about how they work, contact us or stop by the Cisco Live event in San Diego next week.