Networks are growing fast, and companies are faced with increasing outside requirements for management—what we call compliance issues. In order to reduce overhead costs yet maintain flexibility, companies need to automate many network management, security, and compliance tasks. The Shortcut Guide to Automating Network Management and Compliance is a fast-paced, short guide that will give executive-level IT managers to network administrators the know-how to improve network operations, security and compliance. The book focuses on advanced tools and technologies to make auditing easier, to improve uptime, and more.
Modern computer networks are an absolutely mission-critical part of almost any business. Yet because the network doesn’t do anything visible—most users, that is, are more focused on services such as email or file sharing than on the network that makes these services possible—the network’s critical role is often overlooked or diminished. However, the important role the network plays in the business has a very significant impact on the business’ efficiency, overall operations, and the bottom line. This guide explores the ways in which a more efficient, more automated network can lend significant value to the business in a number of different areas.
One of the biggest drivers behind the adoption of network automation technologies is the need for companies to improve their security and compliance postures. Security and compliance have become a major new requirement for most companies—any publicly traded company in the United States, for example, must comply with the provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act—and the public and in-house attention devoted to compliance and security issues has become significant.
The previous chapter discussed how automated network management and operations can help make network security and compliance not only easier but actually practical. A manually operated network is nearly impossible to keep completely secure and compliant. In discussing compliance, the chapter touched on the fact that many rules and laws that may apply to your business actually have an availability requirement as well as security requirements, making business continuity an important part of keeping your network compliant. Of course, there are many business reasons that go beyond compliance for keeping your network up and running: As the backbone for your organization, the network plays an important role in your business’ day-to-day operations and profitability. Lose the network, and you lose money. Automation can also play an important role in keeping your network—and your business—operating at all times, and can help minimize downtime if it occurs for any reason.
Thus far, this guide has discussed most of the major aspects of network operations automation. Chapter 1 discussed the essentials, including the benefits offered by automation. Chapter 2 focused on compliance and security, and how they can benefit from automation in network operations. Chapter 3 covered automation from the viewpoint of maximizing availability; this chapter touched on a very important aspect of automation—business processes. In addition, it outlined how factors such as a change assessment, a complete change management process, and other processes can help drive network operations automation more effectively. This chapter expands on that theme and discusses the need for business processes for all network operations, for finding a solution that helps implement that process, and for integrating the solution and your processes into a cohesive whole.
The idea behind this chapter is to create processes within your company that result in your network being managed and operated in a way that meets all your business needs. From that process, you’ll evaluate technological solutions that allow that process to be realized—essentially, bridging the gap between what the business requires and what you could normally deliver, on your own, in terms of implementation. Once a solution is selected, you’ll need to integrate it with your processes. Finally, because coming up with business plans can often be difficult (especially if you’ve never done it before), the chapter will look at sample business plans that cover tasks such as daily administration, auditing, disaster recovery, and so forth.
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