Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Outsourcing network management

Source: Expresscomputeronline

To reduce operational expenditure, Indian businesses have started outsourcing their network management needs to network management service providers.

With IT networks becoming more complex by the day, organisations have started realising the need for professional network management. Organisations are increasingly looking at network management as a sub-set of enterprise management systems. This enables companies to deploy and manage networks using policies and move towards ‘on-demand computing’. Organisations are considering remote management, through the Internet or though an external managed service provider, to manage complex network infrastructure.

With network infrastructure being expected to support multiple applications, business users are demanding consistent and predictable response time for critical applications. Additionally organisations have started realising that their bandwidth requirement during peak periods of the month and year is significantly different from that of non-peak periods. Recent times have seen many new entrants while existing players have expanded their portfolio of products and services.”

Outsourcing network management

Network management outsourcing is growing rapidly in India and there are many organisations willing to completely outsource to a service provider. Network management includes different functions such as planning the design of the network, maintaining the network hardware and software, integrating new software and hardware, server upgrades to stay abreast with latest developments, supervising the resources, supporting the users, defending the network from hackers and troubleshooting problems.

The market is open to outsourcing network monitoring by means of facility management (FM). Organisations today face challenges of attrition, consistency in service delivery and hence remote infrastructure management services from service providers gain prominence using as they do industry standard tools and customised portals. Aldrin D’Souza, county manager, Tivoli, IBM Software Group, India says, “Network management outsourcing has matured.

Revolving around FCAPS

As networks became more complex with numerous applications and services running on them, Indian businesses have started outsourcing their network management needs to network management service providers. Additionally businesses have started consolidating their IT infrastructure to reduce the operational cost of managing networks and they need a solution that can help them fine tune their infrastructure so that it can be monitored 365x24x7 with 99.99 percent availability. Nithin says, “Primarily businesses are looking at FCAPS (fault, configuration, accounting, performance and security management). The whole concept of network management revolves round three concepts. They are the network management foundation which includes software as well as hardware, security and compliance.

FCAPS, being an ISO framework for network management, gives vendors and system integrators a solid chassis to build a solution upon. However, as mentioned above, this framework needs to gel with a larger framework for IT service management. It should be able to address the entire IT landscape consisting of applications, networks, security, data centre.

CIO’s dilemma

With the advent of multi service platforms, the various challenges that the modern day IT managers are frequently faced with are in the areas of traffic engineering and management, which now form a key part in maintaining the desired service levels. Bhattacharjee says, “It is suggested to look into outsourcing network management especially if it is not the core area of an organisation and stands to gain in the long run.

In a way, one does see cost effectiveness as a result of outsourcing network management. The biggest benefit is that an organisation can expand since it can focus on its core business. Organisations are able to grow their revenues since network management is a key element for growth.

Multiplicity driving growth

In the network, the basic plumbing your routers, switches and cabling may stay more or less the same, at least for the next few years. The way you think about and manage that plumbing changes frequently, however. Multiple branch offices have driven the need for better management tools in the networking space. D’Souza says, “Growth and complexity of leased line infrastructure necessitate good network and service management tools. Multiple users, locations and applications drive the need to have a complete view of the application infrastructure (application and database servers) and be able to monitor and manage and plan capacities based on actual usage patterns, behaviour and stability of the same.