What Is a Network Management System? (Types and Features)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 22, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many businesses use complex computer networks to collect, process, and share information. Network management systems help gather network data, track network performance, and identify issues. Understanding network management systems can help you learn how to manage a network and understand its importance to businesses. In this article, we answer the question, "What is a network management system?", discuss its benefits, consider the functions of a network management system, list different types of systems, and share tips for choosing and using a system.

What is a network management system?

A network management system is an application or set of applications that allows a business to track, administer, and control the independent hardware and software components of a network. A network management system (NMS) gathers data from different parts of a network in a single location, allowing network administrators to monitor performance, identify issues, and perform updates. The management system receives data from network devices like routers and switches and from network endpoints like computers, smartphones, and machines.

Benefits of an NMS

An NMS can make it easier for businesses to monitor large networks of different devices. Here are some of the key benefits of an NMS:

Reduces costs

It reduces costs by gathering system information in a central location. This allows a smaller team of network administrators to monitor the network for any issues, reducing hiring expenses. Some systems allow for the automation of many tasks that require the attention of an administrator. Administrators can identify issues quickly and work to prevent any network slowdowns. Implementing updates and network changes from a central system helps keep every part of a business's network functioning as intended, thus eliminating unnecessary costs.

Increases efficiency

An NMS can make a business more efficient by helping it track network performance quickly and accurately. Management systems can instantly gather information from every part of a network, ensuring that each is performing its function. When issues occur, an NMS helps administrators identify them and send out updates to the entire network, reducing downtime and increasing productivity. These systems can include automated features that help reduce the amount of time administrators spend manually scanning system reports. An NMS can help simplify complex networks, allowing administrators to manage large networks effectively.

Promotes network security

An NMS promotes network security by ensuring that administrators quickly notice any irregularities. Management systems receive constant updates from every part of the network and can automatically identify issues or changes to the default state. Some systems send alerts to administrators when changes occur. Administrators can use management systems to observe network issues and take steps to quarantine affected network components. They can send out patches to the entire network and monitor every device to resolve issues.

NMS functions

An NMS fulfils several important functions, such as:

Network automation

An NMS can automate many repetitive administrative tasks, reducing expenses and increasing efficiency. Complex networks require constant monitoring, configuration, and updating. Automated network monitoring helps reduce the possibility of human error and catches every irregularity. Network updates and configurations can involve major system changes and might require extensive testing before full deployment. Automating these functions allows for comprehensive testing that might identify critical issues.

Related: Automation Tester Interview Questions With Sample Answers

Device detection

Many networks include both software and hardware components, including devices such as computers, cell phones, machines, and sensors. An NMS can detect each device on the network and receive regular updates from them to monitor their performance. Administrators can use an NMS to identify issues with individual devices and send out updates to the entire network. When new devices connect to the network, management systems help them integrate quickly and function correctly.

Monitoring

An NMS allows administrators to monitor all components of a network and ensure they function as intended. By gathering information from every device within a network, administrators can observe performance, bandwidth usage, and other metrics and identify any irregularities. Some automated monitoring processes can make fault detection even faster, preventing unnecessary downtime. By monitoring the performance of the network, administrators can identify weaknesses and create plans for increasing efficiency.

Performance analysis

Gathering network information with an NMS allows businesses to analyze the performance of each network component and make important decisions regarding updates and administration. By tracking the uptime of each network component, administrators can optimize efficiency. An NMS can gather many kinds of network data, from performance and connectivity to updates and security issues. Analyzing this data can aid decision making and make a business more responsive. Gaining a deeper understanding of network performance through analysis allows a business to make positive changes to its IT practices.

Intelligent notifications

This management system can send administrators notifications concerning system issues, performance, or other network metrics. Administrators can configure the management systems to send notifications according to specific requirements. This removes the requirement for administrators to monitor network performance manually. By notifying the administrator instantly about changes in network performance, management systems reduce the likelihood of network issues and allow for rapid troubleshooting.

Types of systems

There are several different management systems that a business can use, including:

On-premises management systems

On-premises management systems operate from the physical location of a business. These systems collect data from the network on a central server or multiple servers. On-premises systems can offer high performance because of their singular location. They might also enhance security by giving a business complete control of its data. Some on-premises systems might require expensive and regular updates to keep abreast of technological advances and could be more challenging to access remotely.

Related: What Is a Database Server? (Tips, FAQs, and Examples)

Cloud-based management systems

Cloud-based management systems use a cloud provider to store network data. Cloud providers offer many subscription-based services, allowing businesses to choose a customized plan that suits their requirements. They might offer powerful tools for automation, monitoring, and analysis. Cloud-based systems might be less expensive to upgrade as providers constantly strive to incorporate new technologies. Storing business data in the cloud might create security vulnerabilities, so this type of management system might not be appropriate for a business that collects sensitive information.

Related: How to Become a Cloud Architect in 4 Steps (With Skills)

Tips for choosing an NMS

Using an NMS can help make a business more efficient. Here are some tips for choosing a system:

Consider business requirements

Before you set up an NMS, consider the nature of the business and what it might use the NMS for. If the business is small and only uses a few different devices, you might be able to set up a simple, low-cost management system. Large businesses with multiple locations and many devices on their network might require a vastly different system. Consider what the business plans to use the management system for. Think about how it plans to collect network data, monitor the network, and how often it might require updates.

Consult administrators

Network administrators often have a strong understanding of the system and might have important ideas about how to implement a management system. Ask the IT team for input on the type of management system they think could benefit the business. Administrators take an active role in using an NMS, so if they assist with the process, they can choose one that suits their requirements.

Related: How to Become a Network Administrator (With Steps)

Contact cloud providers

Cloud providers offer a vast array of management systems and tools. Management systems constantly evolve and adapt to new technologies, and cloud providers can help explain how they can benefit a business. By contacting several cloud providers, you can choose the option that best matches the business's goals.

Conduct testing

After you select an NMS, try to implement it slowly and conduct testing to be sure that it suits the business's requirements. If you rush to set up a management system, you might miss critical details and create issues for the network. Some devices might require updates, and team members may need retraining. Try to implement changes slowly so that you minimize any disruption to productivity.

Explore more articles