Infrastructure management fueling network modernization

Network infrastructure management processes and architectures are being retooled by IT teams, as today's enterprises prepare for network modernization of legacy systems.

Technology disruptions within the enterprise are occurring at a pace never before seen. Simultaneously, IT leadership is seeking to maximize the impact of in-house IT administrator staff by shifting its focus toward technological initiatives that align closely with specific business goals.

Because of this, IT managers are struggling to shoehorn network modernization technologies -- and a new shift in IT focus -- into their legacy network infrastructure management (IM) system. In this article, we're going to look at the limitations of legacy IM platforms,  and how modern IM architectures and processes are being redesigned to adapt to the new era of enterprise IT.

Technology limitations of legacy IM

In today's world of enterprise IT, technologies such as virtualization, cloud computing and software-defined architectures are eroding the traditional boundaries of the enterprise. IT operations now manage networks, servers and data in multiple service-provider networks, with end users who are more mobile than ever before.

Network infrastructure management tools in production today may not be capable of easily organizing and managing network components and users that span the globe. Additionally, virtualization technologies create previously unforeseen complications. For example, adding a virtualized overlay across the infrastructure has the potential to create complexity and scalability issues with IM tools that were never designed with so much virtualization in mind.

Legacy IM platforms were also designed and built as separate tools that were bundled together for sale, but not truly unified in any way. This causes two problems. First, since information isn't shared among IM tools, it creates information silos. These silos create a lack of end-to-end visibility between IT teams that manage the individual tools within the overall IM platform. Second, loosely coupled management tools create a situation where collected information is often duplicated. This overlap of data collection and monitoring functions further clouds the overall management process and goes against the primary goal of infrastructure management and network modernization -- and that is to streamline IT.

IT administrator limitations of legacy IM

Looking at the human resource side of IT in 2017, we see certain trends for which legacy network infrastructure management products weren't designed. The first limitation revolves around flexible automation of frequent and repetitive tasks. From an end-user perspective, this usually consists of an easy-to-use, self-service portal that end users access to automate many common tasks.

Legacy IM products either do not come with self-service automation capabilities, or the features within the self-service portal are limited. Much of this is due to the fact that legacy IM applications are largely proprietary in nature and do not integrate well with modern and open source APIs.

The second shortcoming revolves around the concept that modern infrastructure components -- especially in the data center -- are continuously being consolidated. Designated IT personnel at one time managed compute, storage and network within separate teams. Today, they have to work more closely together, as virtualized environments move toward converged infrastructure architectures. Yet, the legacy IM tools in place were designed and configured for a distinct separation of duties. As a result, just as the infrastructure components they manage must converge, so too should the management tools.

How network modernization helps IT

While legacy IM tools may have been a great fit in the past, they could be showing their age.

New IM platforms are designed with modern IT departmental duties in mind. From a technological standpoint, IM applications provide the necessary tools to manage legacy infrastructure designs, as well as modern architectures completely virtualized or software-defined. Management capabilities and dashboards can be customized to meet the specific needs of your IT department today, as well as adjust to any changes in how resources are managed in the future.

Scalability is also an important component in enterprise-class IM platforms. The products can capably manage private data centers, as well as any number of cloud service providers in a multicloud environment. And all of this is accomplished under one single management platform that shares data and information between tools and reporting tasks. Lastly, huge advancements in proactive monitoring, predictive analysis, self-service portals and automation help to streamline and simplify many of the day-to-day troubleshooting and support tasks that are a time sink for in-house IT departments.

If you find your IT department is struggling to meet the network modernization demands that today's businesses require, one must consider whether the IM platform in use has adjusted enough to keep up. While legacy IM tools may have been a great fit in the past, they could be showing their age. As technological advancements and operational duties adapt to more readily meet the needs of the organization, so should your IM platform.

Next Steps

Handling out-of-band management for network infrastructure

Understanding services for infrastructure management

How to better manage your cloud infrastructure

This was last published in August 2017

Dig Deeper on Network management software and network analytics