Planning for the Future
As we approach the New Year, many organizations’ data centers and network configurations are in lockdown mode. Whether this is due to assuming a defensive posture against the onslaught of holiday ecommerce traffic, or an accommodation to vacationing staff, the situation provides network managers an opportunity to perform a year-end network monitoring assessment
Establish Future Goals, Identify Current Weaknesses and Make Sure Core Tasks and Goals Are Achieved
Q. How many locations will you need to monitor in the New Year?
If there are new server clusters or even new data centers in the works, be sure to plan accordingly, and ensure that your network monitoring tools will have visibility into those areas. Net Optics’ own Aggregation and Regeneration Taps can be used to incorporate more points of visibility for your existing monitoring tools within your growing network. Advanced appliances such as Network Packet Brokers (NPBs) can perform more sophisticated switching and filtering to optimize visibility within that network sprawl.
Q. What traffic will you be responsible for monitoring?
If you are providing network support, you need to understand immediately the nature, volume and security of the traffic flowing over your network. Is your organization planning to implement new applications or services on the network? Even the introduction or expansion of virtualization will require a monitoring plan that incorporates virtualization taps. For organizations looking to simplify their network performance monitoring, Net Optics’ Spyke appliance provides plug-and-play performance monitoring. Additionally, load balancers designed specifically for distributing network monitoring data to multiple tools can extend the useful life of 1G tools by sharing 10G traffic across a pool of devices.
Q. What new threats will the network face, and what preventative measures will you add?
The growing phenomena of advanced persistent threats (APTs) and directed attacks against network vulnerabilities demand a stronger response from security personnel. Dimension Data’s recent 2012 Network Barometer Report indicates that 75 percent of devices within an organization’s network contain a known security vulnerability. Many organizations deploy a defense-in-depth strategy with overlapping security tools to provide more robust security coverage. Be sure to schedule software updates for all of your network security tools, and make sure those security tools have total visibility of the traffic they are monitoring.
Q. What is your replacement plan for older equipment?
Also included in Dimension Data’s Network Barometer Report is that many organizations are utilizing equipment that has reached an end-of-life, end-of-sale or end-of-support stage. Budgeting for, and planning ahead for the obsolescence or re-tasking of these devices should be included in your plan for the coming year.
Q. What are your redundancy and failover plans?
One option for extending the useful life of your legacy monitoring tools is to utilize them as redundant tools in case of failover. Utilizing bypass switches or high-availability modes in NPBs can make use of these tools in the event a primary device is put in maintenance mode, taken offline, or experiences a hardware failure. Consider assessing your older equipment on the basis of discarding the equipment entirely OR re-purposing it as a hot-standby.
Q. Have you included hardware/software maintenance in your annual budget?
Most hardware vendors offer annual maintenance and service plans for their devices. Renewing and maintaining these plans is critical to ensuring that you have access to the latest software updates. Additionally, should any of your devices experience hardware failure, advance replacement plans can get replacement equipment into your network as soon as possible.