This means that tool vendors can write software that users can "plug in" to the framework, thereby customizing the management environment. Because the OpenView and TME 10 frameworks both supply a unified view of management data, common user interfaces, standardized ways for administering agents and the ability to define customized responses to specific conditions, administrators are spared the problem of having to integrate a bunch of software from different vendors.

Timing is Everything

The best time to start working on network and system management is early in the design phase. Network and system management can then be included in all discussions about architecture, operating systems, network protocols, security, applications, etc.

However, most of us aren't fortunate enough to have the opportunity to build a network from the ground up. And, unfortunately, network and system management problems will not just go away. The larger a network and the more important it is to the agency's core services, the more imperative the need to begin to tackle the management problem.

When trying to bring an existing network under control, the key decision is the framework. Crossing that bridge must take into account existing hardware, software and projections for where the network will be in one, five and 10 years. Despite great strides in technology recently, network and system management is not for those seeking a tame existence -- it involves work and commitment. But, again, perhaps the only thing worse would be to not tackle the problem at all.

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David Aden is a senior consultant for webworld studios -- a Northern Virginia-based Web application development consulting company. Email

David Aden  | 
David Aden DAden@webworldtech.com is a writer from Washington, D.C.