Changing Scenario of Information Exchange by Network Administration

Network Administration is different from System Administration. In System Administration all tasks are concerned with one independent computer system. In case of Network Administration once you put your system on a network, it interacts with many other systems. In today’s fast paced world everybody is demanding for modern network which is much superior to the earlier ones. We need improved security and better network management.

Network administration commonly includes activities such as network address assignment, routing protocols and configuration of Authentication and Authorization –directory services. It often includes maintenance of network facilities in individual machines, such as drivers and settings of personal computers. It sometimes also includes maintenance of certain network: gateways, intrusion detection system, etc.

The task of Network Administration is done by Network Administrator. Network Administrator is responsible for network design and security.

Designing:

Designing a network is termed as Network Architecture. Network Architecture can be defined as the design principles, physical configuration, functional organization, procedures, and data structures used for designing and construction of a communication network.

In this fast changing scenario the term Network Architecture also denote classification and differentiation of distributed computing architecture.

To tackle with the collision issue a certain set of rules are also defined which ensures not more than one computer can send across a packet through data cable.

Security:

Sometimes security has more to do with politics and human resources issue than networking. A security administrator is mostly put into abeyance in deciding priority to maintain a reasonable level of security or providing flexibility to users to get their job done. A security administrator has to seek balance between these two opposite wants. Security should be like clothing as clothing are so designed that they are not to tight so that it does not restrict movement and it should not be so loose that it gets revealed to public.

When thinking of securing a corporate network three ways should be kept in mind that someone can get access to the corporate network:

1) Through the Internet.

2) Through dial-in-access.

3) Through Virtual Private Networks.

Network Management System:

Network Management Systems is a combination of both the hardware and software used to monitor and administer a network. Individual network elements are monitored by Element Management Systems.

Network management refers to the activities, methods, procedures, and tools that pertain to the Operation, administration, maintenance, and provisioning of networked systems.

• Operation deals with keeping the network (and the services that the network provides) up and running smoothly. It includes monitoring the network to spot problems as soon as possible, ideally before users are affected.

• Administration deals with keeping track of resources in the network and how they are assigned. It includes all the “housekeeping” that is necessary to keep the network under control.

• Maintenance is concerned with performing repairs and upgrades – for example, when equipment must be replaced, when a router needs a patch for an operating system image, when a new switch is added to a network. Maintenance also involves corrective and preventive measures to make the managed network run “better”, such as adjusting device configuration parameters.

• Provisioning is concerned with configuring resources in the network to support a given service. For example, this might include setting up the network so that a new customer can receive voice service.

Changing Dynamics of Network Administration:

Perhaps you prefer to work outside the office, say, on the golf course. When you’re away it would be useful to monitor your servers and network remotely. You’re in luck; there are a bevy of utilities that let you monitor, diagnose, and repair problems and perform administration tasks remotely with a smartphone or handheld device linked to one of your data center servers.

Most offerings let you manage passwords, printer connections, email programs, or database servers with a Blackberry, Palm Tree, or Nokia smartphone linked to a network server, which is linked to the rest of your network. But while Avocent’s Sonic-Admin, Ecutel’s IC2 (Infrastructure Command and Control), MobileControl from ASG, and other solutions probably work well; many administrations have reservations about security.

Security Concerns

The idea of network management applications using a wireless device represents a dream come true for many network administrators, but it will be a while before the concept takes hold. In fact, the potential market for such utilities is huge, but security concerns have reduced it to only a fledgling market, and the utility’s debut has been too small to track, says analyst Gerry Purdy of Mobile Trax.

“Of course, demand for this type of application will eventually grow as smartphones will have more feature sets and can handle the software loads necessary,” Purdy says. “But at the same time, these devices and applications represent security [threats] in the minds of [IT administrators], such as when a person leaves the company and has access to the network with his mobile device or when a mobile device might provide the opportunity for someone to hack your network with a smartphone.”

Acknowledging that appeasing security concerns represents the toughest sell, Robert Touw, a business development manager for Avocent’s mobile solutions group, maintains that IT administrators are increasingly buying into both the idea of remote network management and the security that the utilities can offer. He also says that even some financial firms, for which security is of utmost concern, now use the utility.

Wireless & Remote Freedom

Most of all, IT administrators relish the opportunities wireless and remote network administration offers. “There is quality of life: Suddenly you don’t have to give up dinner to fix something right away,” Touw says. “Now, suddenly you can also do things in 10 minutes that used to take 40 minutes.”

For security, Avocent says SonicAdmin offers 3DES encryption and token transaction authentication so that the server only accepts valid data packets with recognized tokens. Authentication levels, backed by RSA SecurID, include SonicAdmin user account authentication, device authentication, and NT/AD authentication plus optional RSA SecurID integration. Data such as confidential network and personal logon is not stored on mobile devices. Additionally, remote administrative actions are logged on both the SonicAdmin server and managed servers.

Ecutel says its IC2 software offers six security layers. The server, on which it runs, for example, sits behind the data center’s firewall and signals to and from the server, and mobile devices use a minimum of 128-bit encryption. Authentication is based on a Web-based administration client and RSA SecurID. There is also a complete audit trail of IC2 server operation, and IC2 automatically times out after 30 minutes of inactivity.

ASG says users of its MobileControl Administrator’s management interface are required to log in using a PIN and domain credentials. The systems also can take advantage of RSA SecurID, SSL, VPN, and third-party wireless gateway server security solutions. Sensitive information, such as passwords, is never stored on the wireless device, and an automatic timeout feature for each mobile device prevents illegal entry into the network if a wireless device is lost or stolen.

According to Purdy, the application will likely eventually take hold once vendors convince IT administrators that the security risks can be minimized. Purdy says, “It is just a matter of these companies getting the word out that [these utilities] are secure and that they work.”

IT consultant employed with Rockaway Technology.

www.rtginc.net

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