5 Benefits of Network Management

Is your business plagued by sluggish applications, unexplained downtime, or security concerns?

For any small or medium-sized business (SMB), a reliable and secure network is essential to avoid the challenges associated with unreliable IT. Proactive monitoring and optimization of networks means you can ensure peak performance for your business operations, minimize disruptions, and safeguard your valuable data. To achieve this, you need network management.

The benefits of effective network management in the modern workplace, particularly for network security, are undeniable – a fortified stance against cyber threats, smoother operations and a more productive workforce. Achieving this ideal outcome, however, requires some investment.

Delve into the top 5 benefits of network management to uncover what your SMB can unlock, and how you can achieve unparalleled network security and operational excellence with the help of specialist managed service providers (MSPs).

What is network management?

Network management is the process of administering, managing, and operating a data network to ensure the network’s availability, performance, and security. This is achieved through the use of a dedicated set of network-related tools, applications, and procedures.

Network management encompasses a wide range of activities, including:

Effective network management covers several key functions: fault identification and resolution, performance monitoring and optimization, security management to protect against unauthorized access and cyber threats, configuration and change management to maintain network integrity, and accounting management to track and allocate network resources. These functions are vital for your SMB to ensure your network remains up-to-date, operates at peak efficiency, and is protected against internal and external threats.

The ultimate goal of network management for both SMB and enterprise organizations is to maintain a reliable, efficient, and secure network infrastructure that supports seamless communication and operations for your organization, especially as activities grow and scale.

In the following section, we break down each major benefit of network management.

1. Enhanced security

At the top of the list, enhanced security over your network (network security) is paramount.  

Network security encompasses the measures you put in place to prevent unauthorized access, improper disclosure, modification, or mis-use of network systems. This is done to create a protected platform for your computers, programs and users to perform permitted functions, and involves both hardware and software technologies to accomplish. However, it is effective only when multiple layers of defense are implemented at the edge and within your network. 

Each network security layer implements policies and controls to safeguard your network resources and the data being transferred across the network. By guarding against a vast array of threats and attacks, including viruses, worms, phishing, and ransomware, your SMB ensures safe and uninterrupted business operations, protecting personal and sensitive information.

A big part of network management is implementing robust network security protocols and tools to monitor and protect against unauthorized access, cyber threats, and vulnerabilities. When you have the ability to regularly update security measures and promptly respond to potential network threats, you significantly minimize the risk of data breaches and cyber-attacks, protect sensitive information and also uphold your SMB’s reputation with customers and the latest regulatory compliance standards. 

Regular updates also encompass operating system (OS) system maintenance, patch deployment, and proper licensing processes, all of which could affect the security of your network. For example, Cisco network hardware needs to be patched multiple times a year, and requires a certain level of understanding regarding what licensing should be applied and when.

Of course, unlocking such enhanced security via network management is not always the easiest task for SMBs without in-house network management expertise. An alternate, recommended path to getting started with your network security protocols is to enlist the assistance of Cisco-certified IT partners who offer managed network solutions as part of their services.

2. Improved network performance and reliability

Through continuous monitoring and optimization, network management helps your SMB ensure high performance and reliability of your entire network infrastructure. 

Several tools and technologies used in network management can provide your SMB with detailed, real-time insights into network performance, better enabling your administrators to make informed decisions to enhance the quality of service. Like network security, this practice can ensure your network can support critical business applications and services reliably and for the long-term, leading to improved productivity and user satisfaction within the workplace. Proper configuration of your network also allows you to utilize quality of service (QoS), which controls traffic so performance of system critical tasks takes precedence over, for example, consumption of YouTube videos.

By having the processes and tools in-place to help identify and rectify network bottlenecks, errors, and failures, you can also reduce potential downtime, increase the speed of your data transfer rates and leverage a more reliable connection. If your SMB lacks a dedicated network admin to manage and improve network performance, we recommend looking into managed IT providers that include network performance improvements as part of their solutions packages.

3. Cost-savings

Effective network management helps in identifying and eliminating redundant processes and resources, leading to significant cost savings that you can re-allocate to other important and adjacent digital transformation initiatives (cybersecurity, application security, cloud, etc).

Optimizing the use of existing infrastructure, as mentioned previously, helps you foresee potential issues to address them proactively. Through this, effective network management can help you prevent costly network downtime or unexpected emergency fixes, prevent loss of business due to system availability, help you identify routine tasks that could be automated and align your capacity planning and scalability more accurately, and reduce operational expenses. 

The best MSPs offer cost management as part of their network management and general solutions packages, which we highly recommend investigating should you need external expertise to up-skill and guide your in-house teams for better network-related cost-savings.

4. Scalability and adaptability

As your business operations naturally expand, your network must be able to efficiently scale to accommodate increased data traffic, additional users, and new software applications. Ideally, your SMB would achieve this benefit without compromising on performance or security. 

Network management plays a crucial role in this aspect by offering your business the tools and frameworks necessary for seamless integration of cutting-edge technologies, expansion of network capacities, and adaptation to changing business models and practices.

The visibility into network performance and resources, which we previously covered, enable your administrators to identify potential bottlenecks and underutilized resources to make informed decisions around deployment of new services, performance and capacity usage. This insight is also invaluable for proactive (not reactive) strategic planning of future network expansions, such as to accommodate new devices or bandwidth increases. This agility is critical in today’s modern workplace, where being able to rapidly deploy new services or scale operations quickly can provide a competitive edge.

Additionally, your SMB gains a level of adaptability that extends to the incorporation of new technologies and standards that can benefit your network infrastructure, such as cloud computing, virtualization, and the Internet of Things (IoT), among other advancements. 

A well-managed network is ultimately not static, but is continuously updated and adjusted to remain secure, efficient, and relevant to the organization’s objectives. Formalized network management via managed services can help you achieve this ideal level of dynamic scalability.

5. Improved user experience

Finally, by ensuring the network operates smoothly and efficiently, network management directly contributes to a better user experience for your workforce. 

The user experience directly influences productivity, employee satisfaction and your bottom line, and effective network management contributes to enhancing this experience by ensuring the network is both reliable and capable of delivering high performance. 

For employees, this means having consistent, uninterrupted access to critical business applications and data, enabling them to work efficiently and without frustration. For customers, a robustly managed network means faster access to online services, smoother transactions, and reliable interactions with your SMB’s customer-facing applications. 

In a business landscape where customers expect quick, seamless experiences, the ability of a network to handle high traffic volumes and deliver content effectively can make a substantial difference in customer retention and satisfaction. It’s also an area that IT partners can help you quickly get-up-to-speed with, with minimal cost.

Network management benefits: Next steps

By prioritizing network management as part of your ongoing digital transformation initiatives, your SMB can unlock a number of significant benefits for your business across cost, scalability, security and reliability. 

Like any IT initiative, proper assessment and implementation of new practices, processes and solutions is necessary to ensure you achieve the outcomes that network management promises. For any small business that lacks the internal expertise or confidence to overhaul their network management projects, we recommend speaking to a managed IT provider.

SparkNav provides several network-specific support and solutions to help you get your network management objectives off-the-ground, and are Cisco-certified. For more information on how we can help you, contact our team today.

Robert Griffin
Robert Griffin
As COO, Robert Griffin plays an instrumental role in aligning operational excellence with strategic goals by leveraging his decades of experience in enterprise leadership. With deep knowledge and expertise in security, governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), and AI, his insights are often shared through thought leadership channels, including LinkedIn and blogs. → Follow Robert on LinkedIn.