What's in Store for Network Management in 2001?

Entuity, Inc., a network fault, inventory and performance managementsoftware developer, is making available predictions from leading analysts onnetwork management issues and trends for 2001. The sentiment echoed most byanalysts is that due to today’s ultra-stressed environments, companies mustadopt a proactive network management approach, moving beyond "reactivefirefighting" to ensure greater levels of service quality.

"Network management is going to continue its leap out of the doldrumsof ‘necessary evils’ to the forefront of every enterprise IT manager andservice provider's agenda," said Chris Aronis, industry analyst, NetworkStrategy Partners. "More important than quickly identifying and restoringa network outage, proactive network and fault management is absolutelyparamount to providing telephony-like quality of service. Proactive networkmanagement will be the cornerstone of managed network services, from VPNs toapplications, and everything in between. Service provider customers don't wantservice level agreement credits - they want reliable, always-on service."

            Thepredictions are part of Entuity’s Proaction 2001, an educational programencouraging strategic network management preparedness for the year ahead amongenterprises, service providers and e-commerce companies. As part of theinitiative, and as a result of ongoing research and dialogue with analysts,Entuity has also developed The Art of Network Management. The booklet,which adapts principals from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, provides guidancewhich will allow companies to create an effective network management strategy.

"As a developer of proactive network management software, we arefocused on gaining insight into the future and heading off problems before theyoccur -- that’s what Proaction 2001 is all about," said JoeCollinwood, chief executive officer of Entuity. "To quote Sun Tzu; ‘Therule of military operations is not to count on opponents not coming, but torely on having ways of dealing with them.’ That is the proactive philosophynecessary for handling today’s networks."

The Service Phase

According to many of the analysts surveyed for Entuity’s Proaction 2001,network management is moving into a new phase — one focusing on performance.This positive trend must increasingly treat the network as a function criticalto carrying out or supporting business services.

"The year 2001 will be one of transformation within the networkmanagement industry," said Dennis Drogseth, director, EnterpriseManagement Associates. "This transformation will be driven by improvedintelligence systems in problem resolution, performance management and servicemodeling including technologies relevant to root cause analysis on the onehand, and accounting and billing on the other. The traditional approach ofviewing the network as plumbing will finally give way to the recognition thatthe network is a delivery system that can shape, monitor and help to ensure theperformance of critical business services.

"The focus of network management moves from 'is the device up andrunning?' to 'how well is the customer being served?'" said Richard L.Ptak, vice president, Hurwitz Group. "Solution providers unable tomonitor, manage, and report on traffic by application, by userand through the web interface will scramble to stitch together anintegrated view of the delivery of a business service. The state of the devicesmatters only to the extent that any single device straddles the critical pathto achievement of the business objective."

Getting Down To Business

Another area of reoccurring speculation among analysts is how businesseswill use technology in the year ahead. Predictions on this subject coveredareas from toolsets to outsourcing and more.

"Through 2001 we will continue to see the convergence of networkmanagement, systems management, and applications management," said CoreyFerengul senior program director, Service Management Strategies, META Group."The convergence will be mostly in the toolsets, which will lead toorganizations potentially purchasing overlapping technology. While the toolsare converging, the end users will obtain a greater view into the actualoperation of their enterprise, with application level root cause analysisquickly becoming feasible."

"No longer will organizations be content to manage network, systems,and applications as separate functional domains," said Jerald Murphy, vicepresident of Global Networking Strategies, META Group. "As businessbecomes increasingly dependent on the performance and reliability of the ITinfrastructure, successful IT managers will integrate metrics from all threedomains to determine how they perform together to deliver businessfunctionality. This will be increasingly challenging, as one or more of thesedomains is likely to be outsourced to an external service provider."

Market Projections and New Directions

Overwhelmingly, analysts’ predictions for the network management market for2001 are very promising. Additionally, some analysts see new directionsforming, and old problems lingering.

"After sluggish revenues in 2000, the network management market in 2001will see movement in several directions," said Bill Gassman, senioranalyst, Gartner Group. "On the technology front, layer 2 network topologydiscovery and root cause analysis solutions will mature to the point where mostenterprises can deploy it. Quality of service provisioning and accounting willcontinue to emerge, but broad acceptance will occur beyond 2001. Consolidationsare likely, as vendors focused on system and ebusiness management acquire thenetwork management technology that they are missing."

"IP-services will introduce a highly sensitive type of network trafficinto enterprise and service provider environments in 2001 and beyond,"Paul Bugala, research analyst, IDC. "Managing new IP applications willforce service level management vendors to embrace new service metrics, whileretaining the reporting, analysis and tuning strengths of traditional networkperformance management."

"Imagine the public phone network in 1942: you pick up a phone and heara live operator ask ‘Number please?’ If we still had manual switchboards todaywe'd need twice the US population working as operators to handle our callvolume," said William A. Flanagan, program director, Burton Group."Now think about provisioning a data circuit -- call the service providerand hear ‘Order please?’ Service providers can't install data fast enoughunless automated management systems let users ‘direct dial’ connections whenwanted."