Article

Top five network management blunders

Meredith B. Derby, assistant news editor

In some ways, networks are like teenagers: they go through huge growth spurts and are difficult to manage. Like parents, IT managers often lose control of their unruly charges by neglecting the basics, said Bob Yellin, CTO of Austin-based IBM Tivoli Software. In working with network managers for many years, he's seen them make the following mistakes in basic IT management over and over again.

Blooper #1: "Scalability? I'll think about that when I need it."

IT managers might start out deploying software in a departmental mode, where there are "islands" of small groups being serviced. Eventually, though, this approach creates duplication of effort, such as package building and testing, distribution administration and troubleshooting. Managers may then want to centralize management. At this point, though, the lack of your infrastructure's scalability is exposed.

Blooper #2: Thinking that heterogeneity is a sexual preference.

IT managers often choose software products that work best with their primary platform. Then they have to spend a lot of time tweaking that OS-specific tool to make it work with other platforms. Or, they have to buy separate software for the other platform and make it play nice with the first product choice. They end up with duplicate tool sets, multiple training costs and a lot of extra integration work.

Blooper #3: Forgetting about security.

IT managers are usually diligent about

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securing their company's high-ticket systems and software, but they overlook the smaller things. Yellin has often seen managers distributing software to thousands of workstations without taking security measures. They warn users about viruses in attachments but don't put any teeth into their e-mail security policies. They overlook small apps, like instant messengers, that can put their network at risk.

Blooper #4: Taking an out-of-sight, out-of-mind approach to mobile workers' connectivity issues.

In today's world, when any software is distributed, a large and growing percentage of the target systems will not be connected to the network. Managers need to ask themselves: What processes can be put in place to help disparate workers communicate with company headquarters and with each other? What can be done to efficiently get them connected to the network?

Blooper #5: Not giving software tracking a second thought.

IT managers may not realize it at the start, but it's important to know who got what software when, and whether it was successful. Also, many companies have saved money on maintenance and licensing by tracking the exact software being run by each desktop and the network devices being used by all employees. It's a tough job to do a company-wide software update when all workers are running different versions of different operating systems. So, many IT managers keep putting it off. The result? They're paying for more software licenses than they need to, or they're losing devices to theft without knowing it.

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