Signal management

4 Tips to Ensure Secure Automated Network Management in Higher Education

2.) Accelerate Network Automation with Personas and Objects

Even the smallest network meets a diverse set of requirements; administrators, teachers, students, servers, and researchers all have their own performance, accessibility, and network design needs. Although you want to meet the needs of each of your customers, a key technique for maintaining a consistent and secure network is to reduce your architecture to a small set of very well-documented use cases. These characters turn into configuration items – firewall rules, switch port and Wi-Fi settings, load balancer and IPS settings, and even log retention policies.

Whether there are 20 or 200 different use cases, they can serve as the foundation for any automation effort once you take the time to list and document them. Any configuration change must remain consistent within a particular use case. This is especially important as education IT managers integrate infrastructure-as-a-service and software-as-a-service cloud solutions and orchestration tools are increasingly used to automate the configuration of everything. , from switches to firewalls.

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3.) Automate network monitoring, but don’t over-monitor

Just using the words “network monitoring” can be confusing because monitoring has many different meanings: accessibility monitoring, alerting, application performance monitoring, capacity and event response all require different approaches and often different tools, but all still fall under the umbrella term “network monitoring”.

None of this confusion should reduce IT managers’ commitment to good monitoring. The first important step is to define the scope of each monitoring area to see which tool is the best fit. It is unlikely that a single monitoring tool can handle all of these cases well. Education IT managers need to make good decisions about when they can reuse an existing tool, log server, or management system and when they need something new.

A good strategy is to focus on the consumer of the monitoring rather than the types of devices being monitored and then work back from there. This is especially true in educational environments, where a distributed networking style is typical and where features such as overlapping areas of responsibility are common.

Overwatching is a common problem with automated tools because the default configuration of many tools treats everything the same. Education IT managers with large-scale network spans must constantly adjust their monitoring strategies to avoid performance issues (both in the network and in the monitoring tools) that can arise from looking at things too much. frequently or too deeply. A good strategy – which flows naturally from persona and use case creation – will assess criticality, type of usage and users, expected failure modes, and high availability capabilities to determine which parameters are monitored. , how often they are monitored, and how long the metrics are retained. For example, counting network switch port errors might occur once a day in a modern network, while measuring application response time might require a minute-by-minute chart.

LEARN MORE: Machine learning and automation help universities secure their network.

4.) Treat Wi-Fi Differently Than Wired Networks

Managing Wi-Fi for availability and security is not the same as managing wired networks. Although Wi-Fi floats above the wired network, it is an application in itself and requires a very different set of management tools to meet its unique challenges. Commonalities, like making sure access points are up and running, can be misleading. Wi-Fi networks for education are highly dependent on network services such as authentication and Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, and may also be tied to mobile device management tools (mobile mobility management). enterprise or unified endpoint management). Keeping everything up to date and measuring response time and failure rates is new for network managers used to managing wired networks.

Wi-Fi networks also have their own performance issues, often caused by factors beyond the control of the IT manager, such as interference from other nearby Wi-Fi access points and even the movement of people and objects in a building. Automation of RF problem detection and adjustment is so important that every enterprise-ready wireless controller system includes these options. However, it is up to the IT manager to establish the automated tuning parameters, such as signal and noise level targets and capacity levels, so that the Wi-Fi management system can operate effectively.

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