The Net Net: New Management for the New Millennium

What should enterprise management look like in the new millennium?

What should enterprise management in the new millennium look like?

Wouldn’t it be nice if this software really did solve my problems? Why does it take so much work and time to implement most management software? None of this "so called" management software is very smart at managing.

I have been hearing these questions and statements from coworkers and customers for as long as I’ve been working in the enterprise management business. Don’t get me wrong; things are getting better, but don’t you think it’s time for some new and different ideas? To coin a phrase, we need a new management philosophy.

I have been asking myself and others that question. And we’ve come up with some interesting ideas to share. Here is our wish list of new enterprise management products for the new millennium.

Network Management Appliances

The network appliance is the infamous "black box" for enterprise management. I have a favorite customer that has been asking for one of these for years. This intriguing device would hook to your network; and with no configuration, start reporting problems. The most important aspect of this machine would be self-learning.

As we have talked about this machine over the years, it has become apparent that other technologies are going to have to be perfected to make these appliances a reality.

So, as a thought-provoking exercise, some of those technologies are listed below:

Self-Healing Management Systems

Where there is one black box another isn’t far behind. Today we can build fault-tolerant solutions, but they can be expensive and complex. And they are by no means automatic to implement and configure.

It would be great to install your network "black box," then add another one in another city and they would become "aware" of each other. The whole concept isn’t just two systems backing each other up but an entire enterprise being "aware" of all its pieces and intelligently backing each other up. This would defiantly be predicated on the next enhancement, the "NetBot."

Intelligent Auto Discovery Network Robots

These "NetBots" would scurry around your network looking for anomalies and devices it has never seen before. These NetBots wouldn’t just be for adding new devices but more importantly locating changes to devices and paths. Most discovery problems, even on current systems, aren’t adding new devices but changing existing devices.

These NetBots used in conjunction with smart agents would truly turn into the "true authority" on your network. Today’s auto discovery engines use the sledgehammer approach to discovering your network. That was fine in the days of simple routers with a dozen interfaces and the most complicated thing you had to deal with was the occasional SNMP managed hub. Networks with switching fabric, ATM clouds and ultra-fast pipes are just waiting to take advantage for this technology.

Smart Agents

Not intelligent agents but agents with a little common sense. These agents would be so smart that they would distribute themselves and self-configure themselves according to what kind of system it installs itself on.

Artificial Intelligence

Not so-called "Artificial Intelligence," but real intelligence. Artificial intelligence has been around for years in multi-billion dollar defense projects but this technology needs to evolve to into smarter, faster and cheaper products. This is the same paradigm Global Positioning Systems (GPS) have taken. They were once classified machines the size of a large desk and cost millions if dollars and guided aircraft carriers around the world.

Now they cost $199 at and are used to guide my rental car around the road construction in Boston. Real intelligence must be added at all levels of the model.

These are just a sampling of the new enterprise management ideas out there. Do you have anything to add? If so, please drop me an e-mail.

— Charles Hebert is President of Southernview Technologies, Inc.