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Of course, this list is somewhat utopic. The sad reality is that many of these steps are skipped in the mad rush to deploy new systems. Nonetheless, this is a good list to know for the exam and a wonderful target to strive for in production networks.
|Select those items that are most beneficial to your environment and create a form that addresses them. It doesnt have to be bureaucratic. Rather, use it for your own reference and augment it as necessary.|
As networks grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor and maintain each individual component. At the same time, its likely that the critical nature of each component increases to the point where outages can cost millions of dollars.
Network monitoring tools were designed to alert operations staff to real-time problems. Most of these solutions use polling, SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol), and RMON (Remote Monitoring) to detect changes in the environment, and most incorporate a graphical interface that inter-connects the various devices. Network management expands upon the basic monitoring tools and typically adds configuration and enhanced monitoring capabilities. This may incorporate extended RMON functions, including embedded protocol capture.
For obvious reasons, Cisco champions their CiscoWorks network management suite. This product can work with other platforms, including HPs OpenView and Suns Domain Manager. Like most network management tools, CiscoWorks uses a database to maintain information regarding the network elements. It also provides a number of features, including the following:
Network management tools can also aid in the configuration of the network. Programs are available to simplify the establishment of VLANs and other parameters that would otherwise require manual input with the command-line interface. Tools can not only speed up the configuration process, but they can allow less-trained workers to perform these tasksthey will not have to learn the intricacies of the command-line interface (CLI).
While the network-management tools like CiscoWorks can greatly assist the network administrator, there are other methods that can be used to obtain information regarding the networks health. These include:
Baselining is the act of measuring normal network characteristics under typical conditions. This information is invaluable for capacity planning and can assist in troubleshooting. During configuration or baselining, there are additional resources and tools to consider during a network outage. These resources include:
When deploying network-monitoring tools, designers should evaluate the importance of each tier and segment. For example, the core layer likely requires a substantial amount of monitoring in real time, while elements at the access layer will likely have less impact on the overall network than will a problem in the core. Thus, a designer may place RMON probes in the core but use the command line to diagnose problems in remote locations.
In addition, the designer should consider implementing technologies in a manner that augments troubleshooting. This may include:
This chapter incorporated a number of concepts regarding the overall network design process and the tools that administrators and designers may use to gain more control over increasingly complex environments. In addition, it highlighted the concepts that are most common in network design as well as the material that typically causes students the most difficulty. Finally, this chapter detailed two design templates that can assist designers new to the network design process.
At this point, readers should feel comfortable with the importance of considering nontechnical aspects of network design as well as the technical. The benefits of project-management methodologies and experience should also be clear.
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