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Can you manage it?

Where does your job begin and your personal life end? For IT professionals, it's often hard to tell especially if you're deeply involved in network administration.

Not so long ago, a network administrator had to do manage relatively small networks, just few computers connected over a LAN. But that was before the Internet happened. Also, other technologies like VoIP, VPNs, Frame Relay, WLANs, etc, were either quite new or non-existent. Back then networks were comparatively easy to manage.

Now things are much more complicated due to the heterogeneous mix of various network components from various vendors, be it servers, switches, routers or just the expanse of the network. As if this heterogeneous cocktail wasn't enough, there are other important things than need to be taken into consideration. With more enterprises moving their business processes online in order to reach a larger customer base and increase efficiencies, there is lot of vital data being passed over networks. You have Web servers, file servers, and lots of other software/components talking to each other, either within an intranet or over the Net.

Now imagine what would happen if any one of these network components were to collapse. Get the point?

This is where network management systems (tools) come in handy. Not only do these tools perform the task of pinpointing the possible cause of disruption (and even suggesting remedies), but also inform the network administrator beforehand of any problems that may arise.

There are quite a few network management tools available in the market, each adept at performing a particular task better than the other. Most of these tools, especially the software variety, are quite expensive cost can run into a few lakh rupees. Then there might be additional costs that one may have to incur for implementing them. This makes selecting a network management tool an intricate task. So which network management tool would be right for your enterprise needs?

In this month's cover story, we give you the lowdown on network management; the issues involved, and also help you select the right network management system for your enterprise, one that would fit your requirements.

This issue also presents other interesting stories. Elsewhere in the issue you'll find a detailed primer on Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) that protect networks from hackers who are able to get through perimeter security. We also discuss where an IDS is best placed on a network for the best results. Further, in the technology section we talk about Content Caching technologies and how they accelerate the distribution and delivery of content. We also provide a sneak preview of strategies and technologies necessary to create, distribute and store online content.

Finally, for all those do-it-yourself guys, we have a hands-on tutorial on "Setting up your own IRC server."

Sandeep Ajgaonkar,
Assistant Editor
sandeepa@vsnl.com

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