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How to be a better network manager in 2020

9th March 2020

The role of the network manager is in a state of flux: each year, their responsibilities change to incorporate the new and efficient and eliminate the antiquated. The fate of network managers is tied to that of the network. Networks are relied upon to do more than ever, and must accommodate a broader set of users, applications and capabilities.

When dealing with the security of a network – which, for many organisations, houses large quantities of critical data – preparedness is key. Here are four ways network managers can improve in 2020 and beyond, to stand ready against the unexpected, remain adaptable to the unknown and, ultimately, protect critical network infrastructure to preserve brands and bottom lines. 

  1.       Reporting, reporting, reporting

Data is the residue to everything we do; following each communication and interaction, we leave data behind. For network security managers, this is fuel for optimisation. But data produced by traffic isn’t valuable in and of itself. It must be viewable in a way that can inform key decisions and identify opportunities and vulnerabilities across large, distributed networks. Data only becomes a resource when compiled into reports, to facilitate the level of analysis required to inform effective network improvements. 

Some solutions, such as those provided by Ixia, Endace, Plixer, and ntop, even provide real-time reporting of traffic.  

  1.       Harness the power of visualisation

Following on from improving the reporting of network traffic, a network manager should also embrace the visualisation of data. Network managers are time-starved. The demands for their attention are growing. These are both active demands – responding to incidents – and passive: monitoring a network, staying up to date with the latest technology and revising security and performance strategy.

Dashboards, such as those available through Securonix – a SIEM – enable immediate and real-time visualisation of data. With various levels of analysis, from a broad overview to an in-depth look at a specific part of the network, the network manager is able to delve as deep as they choose, to extract the insight required to first identify, and then resolve or optimise.

  1.       Stay flexible

We’re all more comfortable with what we know. With network managers, however, this mentality can prove detrimental, if not disastrous. Sticking to the tried-and-tested eliminates the possibility of realising the new. Network managers must stay flexible and adaptive in their thinking – to be open to new solutions that can increase their network monitoring capabilities, or to incorporate hardware – such as network taps – that they haven’t previously used.

Threats to security are evolving. To be effective, a network manager must evolve with them, actively exploring solutions, hardware and applications that, even when they require a change in behaviour, can improve network performance and security.

  1.       Manage the now. Prepare for the unforeseen

In a world filled with angst about network security, in which organisation-ending cyber attacks are highly publicised, network managers often fall into the trap of decision paralysis. Effective network managers achieve balance. Danger may lurk in the next day, week or month, but obsession over it obscures opportunities within the present. The best way to mitigate the impact of an attack is to stop it where it begins. This means managing and monitoring the now of a network – keeping a watchful eye and, while devising strategies for future security improvements and threat prevention, staying attuned to real-time data.

Not every threat or performance drop can be prevented. The key is, in lieu of prevention, to ensure mitigation. Once a problem occurs, deal with it, learn from it and allow the insight to inform future decisions.

Every year, we help organisations improve their network performance and security through new solutions. Contact us today to see how we can do the same for you. 

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