With new technologies presenting a broader range of methods for network access and use, the complexities of supporting services across the enterprise are becoming even more challenging. Multiple service delivery sourcing options (on-premise, cloud, SaaS, etc.) create a new level of management complexity and reduce the IT organization's span of control related to service quality.
These complex environments make it hard for IT to monitor performance, track all end-user transactions and to pinpoint root cause when problems occur or bandwidth slows. Simply put, network management tools must evolve to keep up the pace and provide customers with a better way to manage this complexity.
Furthermore, in this advanced environment, network management tools must not only address the network and applications supported, they also need to adapt to changes in administration. The “new normal” for IT is to accelerate delivery of new and enhanced services that support business objectives, at current budget levels, without increasing risk.
With these challenges in mind, the following three key factors are certain to play significant roles in next-generation network management capabilities and solutions in the years to come.
The iPad, iPhone and Android devices are changing the way we interact not only with our mobile devices, but also with operations within the workforce. Just as the typewriter matured into the computer, the computer was bound to evolve, and has now given rise to touch screen devices, projected keyboards, and gadgets that have yet to be mass produced. End users expect a flawless online experience and the ability to interact with businesses at anytime, from anywhere and through any device.
Because of these advances, customer-facing applications have evolved and continue to do so constantly in order to keep pace with today's most promising technology advancements, a development that holds true for both manufacturing and fulfillment processes. One specific example of this is the evolution of mainframes: from the black command prompts to a user-friendly GUI.
As employee-facing applications adapt to enhance the user experience, so must productivity levels. iPhone-savvy network administrators should not be stuck with a first-generation management application to view a detailed report. The game-changing factor lies in the ability to create solutions that can manage evolved networks with unique user experiences that are in tune with consumer-facing technologies.
Software development and deployment processes have evolved significantly in the last two decades, providing software vendors with cost flexibility and enabling software consumers to work either on-premise or remotely using Web-based and mobile applications. Managed services and cloud-based services gain traction from organizations that want to outsource commodity IT functions, meet peak demand without on-premise investment, or focus on their core competency.
At the same time, the demand for 24x7 availability, driven by a global economy and a reality that both consumers and professionals are “always on”, means technology organizations need more predictability to avoid service-impacting issues. Remote Infrastructure Management as a Service (RIM) is bound to evolve, as software services have changed due to cost-related issues and in response to the need for this 24x7 availability. As RIM evolves, network administration will also change, as it will be seen as a critical, business-impacting service rather than just an IT support function.
When this happens, network solution providers, if they partner with RIM service providers, will be able to ride the wave and create solutions that are scalable, easy to deploy and integrate, and are packaged solutions rather than discrete tools.
The unique selling proposition for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the freedom from purchasing and maintaining equipment. As more and more organizations choose to adapt their business to leverage these services, they also will have an impact on true blue network administration.
The multi-tenancy solutions - along with virtualization - that enable IaaS need to be better supported. Although virtualization management solutions are evolving, it's multi-tenancy support that will again be the game-changer. However, it brings its own challenges as an application cannot be made a multi-tenant supporting solution unless that is built into its DNA. Hence, a new architecture and outlook have to be adopted.
Network management and IT operations are embarking on an exciting journey with organizations that are adopting new technologies and services. As outside forces converge to shape next-generation network management, companies must take the necessary steps to ensure their solutions are optimizing the performance of critical revenue-generating services while managing complexity and reducing downtime and costs.
Shweta Darbha brings nearly a decade of experience in IT, business consulting and product management to her role as a Product Manager for CA Technologies. She has served many leading IT services and product companies in the IT infrastructure and network management, financial services, retail, airlines, and manufacturing domains, focusing on customer relationship management (CRM), customer data management (CDM), marketing and customer loyalty.