Network Operations





Network Operations includes asset management, help-desk supervision, security and user policies, infrastructure administration and anything else that affects the operation of your network. Discussions will include those of best practices in platforms, configurations, performance, security and accounting.

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Software-defined infrastructure is the buzz these days gaining a lot of importance. With software-defined infrastructure companies can be more agile and proficient. Nonetheless, a complete re-engineering of IT procedures is required to gain agility and efficiency.

The adoption of software-defined data centres is also increasing as it offers rapid delivery of services and cloud-like services to organisations. Another objective of organisations is to save money which can be achieved by delivering IT services in a restructured and coordinated method. Components and services of infrastructure are fully automated, triggered by business policies, amalgamated and centrally managed for performance.

A software-defined data centre can trace demand and responds automatically within no time by scaling up suitable resources. Software-defined solutions for considerations associated with computers; networking and storage predict results like 55% Opex savings and 75% Capex savings. Software-defined data centre’s technology help in eliminating traditional data centre silos and has a concrete server virtualisation infrastructure which has matured and improved in several medium and large companies.


Nothing can be achieved if anything simply has been deployed. Some of the other support is required to gain full fledge results. Similarly, Software-defined Data centres require some robust re-engineering of IT processes to achieve cost savings, business agility and productivity gains. Let’s have a look at five strategies which will help in reaping benefits of successful deployment of software-defined data centres.

Initiate Small

One of the biggest hurdles in deploying software-defined data centres is lethargy. Many people have a wrong assumption that organisations should transform complete data operations simultaneously. This is not at all necessary.

Rather, begin software-defined data centres with one, a small project which is related to low profile activity or service addressing one aspect of software-defined data centre environment that is computed, storage and networking.

Shifting storage capability which is inclusive of a database service is a seamless project to start with. To move VM’s vigorously without causing any disruptions can be achieved by using certain technology like VMware Live Migration. With this, the organisation can absorb Software-defined data centres and reap measurable benefits.

On the other hand, targeting e-commerce websites for the first experiment into a software-defined data centre can be risky. Multiple application services is a must for such projects like shipping, inventory, order management etc. and therefore there should be solutions which enables seamless working of computes, networking and software-defined cloud storage.

If any delay or failure is detected in new infrastructure which has high chances when something new is being implemented then this result is quite noticeable to senior management. Such top management people don’t like systems to go down especially those which are revenue generating. Initiating with something small, a non-mission critical project will enable decision makers in the IT to learn rapidly and can help in refining the processes for the subsequent project and can easily build a software-defined data centre expertise without any risk.

Necessary Skills

While deploying a software-defined data centre, the IT team should possess resources that are capable enough to understand systems orchestration and automation. Such skills are found in individuals who have worked closely with business, with some external service providers or ones who have experienced cross-departmental roles.

It is very important that software-defined data centre technologies are extremely vendor specific. If you are choosing Cisco solution, then you will be in need of people who have expertise in Cisco networking. It will be very easy and less risky if you have skills in-house as per your chosen platform rather than having another set of resources or retrofitting people to unfamiliar technology. Even if you have an excellent team with high capabilities and skills, software-defined data centres require spending money on training and development, support etc.

Evaluation of Vendor Contracts and Legacy Technologies

An intelligent IT leader will never replace vendor relationships and all systems just to deploy software-defined data centre capabilities. IT should consider business priorities for vendors which are based on purchasing power and long-term contracts and then accordingly align software-defined data centres purchases. Evaluation of hardware’s end of life status is also very necessary. If an organisation wishes to deploy Cisco software-defined data centre although has networking infrastructure of HP which is just two years old, choosing HP makes better sense.

Reconsideration of the IT Enterprise

Silos are already on the verge of a software-defined data centre. In this world of technology, it is very difficult to run IT with separate groups of networking, storage, applications and server. For a software-defined data centre, the technology barrier is maintaining silos. With a software-defined data centre, data must run spontaneously and a high level of coordination is required. Software-defined data centres offer more significant information from all the constituents which are then distributed across IT for better management and decision making.

With time roles also change. If a software-defined compute product is deployed like VMware, it will affect the network or storage group. Such organisations will have to deliver virtualised infrastructure based services as well as on standards which are optimised for a software-defined data centre. Moreover, it is important to initiate change and collaborate in new ways.

Deploy Metrics for Business

Monitoring performance as a task is done in manual and automated ways since years. However, then also such metrics don’t give much value to the business. Don’t use a lot of metrics. Overloading of metrics will cause a lot of confusion and no concrete conclusion can be derived. Select some few metrics which will help in deriving clear and measurable conclusions which will define success for the new infrastructure so deployed.

Metrics sometimes vary from project to project. Metrics should be chosen that have the ability to demonstrate how much more efficient, effective one can be in assisting users in new software-defined data centre oriented location. Common metric are the speed of deployment, agility, the capability to shift storage possessions with zero downtime, ease of use, user satisfaction, and total costs incurred.

Many conversations and debates have occurred whether the software-defined data centre is a methodology or technology. Truly speaking, it is a combination of both. A new alignment for delivering and managing IT is a prerequisite for software-defined data centre which is based on collaboration, business prioritisation and speed.

In this article I will be showing you how to subnet the easiest way possible for IPv4 (Internet Protocol version 4). This article does not cover IPv6. Keep in mind that subnetting requires lots of practice and time.

Expert Comment

by:James Bunch
This article is amazing. I am studying for the Network+ N10-006 test right now and was able to use this information along to correct mistakes I was making previously in trying to determine Subnets and ranges of given IP address/CIDR on the practice tests. This makes it easier to keep the math simple in my head as well as to follow how to finish the resolution of the problem without reworking parts of the scenario. Great work and thank you for sharing it with us!
In this article, the configuration steps in Zabbix to monitor devices via SNMP will be discussed with some real examples on Cisco Router/Switch, Catalyst Switch, NAS Synology device.
In this article, we’ll look at how to deploy ProxySQL.
Use of TCL script on Cisco devices:
 - create file and merge it with running configuration to apply configuration changes
David Varnum recently wrote up his impressions of PRTG, based on a presentation by my colleague Christian at Tech Field Day at VMworld in Barcelona.

Thanks David, for your detailed and honest evaluation!

Author Comment

by:Kimberley from Paessler
Hi Ryan,

Thanks for your message.  I'll flesh it out a bit and then submit it again.

I have a related question:  If I have a topic/article/post that I only want to post to the Paessler Topics page, does it still go through independent review?  I tagged "paessler" on several articles, but haven't been asked to review or approve them.  Who decides what can appear on our topics page?

(um, to avoid confusion, yes, I'd like to post this article to several topics, after it meets the requirements for an article.  My question is more a hypothetical one, in case I have things to post only to the Paessler topics page at some point).

Thanks for your help!

PRTG Network Monitor lets you monitor your bandwidth usage, so you know who is using up your bandwidth, and what they're using it for.
Join Greg Farro and Ethan Banks from Packet Pushers and Greg Ross from Paessler for a discussion about smart network monitoring with PRTG.  Ethan, Greg and Greg discuss strategies for monitoring your IT infrastructure, how to deal with the complexity of monitoring large networks, and how to glean actionable information from multiple data points.

Listen to the podcast to learn how network monitoring can identify issues in your network before they impact your users.

Please note that this podcast was sponsored by Paessler.
Data center, now-a-days, is referred as the home of all the advanced technologies. In-fact, most of the businesses are now establishing their entire organizational structure around the IT capabilities.
Quality of Service (QoS) options are nearly endless when it comes to networks today. This article is merely one example of how it can be handled in a hub-n-spoke design using a 3-tier configuration.
Network ports are the threads that hold network communication together. They are an essential part of networking that can be easily ignore or misunderstood, my goals is to show those who don't have a strong network foundation how network ports operate.

Author Comment

by:jorge diaz
Thanks for pointing it out Gauthier.

Thanks for the comment Jim.

Expert Comment

by:Naif Almarzuqi
Excellent article, easy to understand
Thanks Alot
Managing 24/7 IT Operations is a hands-on job and indeed a difficult one. Over the years I have found some simple tips and techniques to increase the efficiency of the overall operations. The core concept has always been on continuous improvement; any process that is introduced needs to be adjusted / optimized depending on the work condition and team members.

IT Operations needs to be constantly improved in order to respond to business needs. Below are some of the tools that have helped me to increase efficiency:

1.      Task Calendar
Maintain a list of tasks at hand and assign them to respective team members with target dates. Don’t be too specific with the target dates unless specifically required, I usually iterate to one or at most two levels .i.e. Month and then week. For example ‘ task A’ needs  to be completed by 2nd week of 3rd month. Distribute the list to members in advance and make sure that you follow up so that tasks are completed on time. By listing the tasks in this manner I believe they are easy to track and execute.

2.      Pre-Planned Meetings for the whole year
Scheduled meeting in advance on periodic intervals from the beginning of the year. This will help you keep track of the progress and make adjustments before things get delayed. I usually plan meeting for yearly targets, projects and scheduled activities.

3.      Purchase Calendar
Managing IT operations require renewals and purchase of Software and SLAs. It’s hard …

Expert Comment

by:Karisma Sand
Awesome content that help me very much!

Author Comment

Thanks :)
Imagine you have a shopping list of items you need to get at the grocery store. You have two options:
A. Take one trip to the grocery store and get everything you need for the week, or
B. Take multiple trips, buying an item at a time, to achieve the same feat.
Obviously, unless you are purposefully trying to get out of the house you’d choose “A”. But why do we so often times choose “B” when it comes to our data transmission performance? The key metric here is efficiency.How many trips do you want to take?

MTU…says you need to buy Milk in 1 Gallon containers rather than by the ounce!

MTU is an acronym that stands for the Maximum Transmission Unit, which is the single largest physical packet size, measured in bytes, a network can transmit. If messages are larger than the specified MTU they are broken up into separate, smaller packets also known as packet fragmentation or “fragmented”, which slows the overall transmission speeds because instead of making one trip to the grocery store you are now making multiple trips to achieve the same feat. In other words, the maximum length of a data unit a protocol can send in one trip, without fragmentation occurring is dictated by the MTU value defined.

Do I Really need to Manually Correct the MTU Value?

The correct MTU value will help you select the correct shopping cart size in order to be the most efficient in your grocery shopping so that you don’t have to take multiple trips. Shouldn’t I just leave…

Expert Comment

by:Jason Shaw
Would changing the MTU on on-side of VPN tunnel cause any issues with VPN ?
LVL 32

Author Comment

by:Blue Street Tech
Hi Jason, I assume you are only changing it on one side of a VPN tunnel. If I am correct, then it would only benefit one side of the connection. So if that connection is having the issues then it may remedy the problem, however for greater efficacy I'd do both ends (they most likely will not have the same MTU).
As dyndns has reduced the capabilities of the free service, I looked around for other free providers of Dynamic DNS service.

After testing several I decided to move my DNS hosting to Hurricane Electric as then domains that require dynamic hostnames can be managed with dynamic A records instead of the CNAME required when using the dyndns free service.

The configuration as below is for IPv4 dynamic addressing as provided by most Internet Service Providers on ADSL or Cable (broadband) connections when using the free DNS and DDNS service as provided by

The below has been tested on a Cisco 1812 running c181x-advipservicesk9-mz.151-4.M4.bin on a BT FTTC connection which uses PPPoE over VDSL where the PPPoE interface has a dynamic address. It has also been tested on a Cisco 877 running c870-advipservicesk9-mz.151-4.M4.bin on several other UK ADSL and ADSL2+ connections

It does not cover changing the IPv4 termination address for a IPv6 Tunnel.

In Global mode

ip ddns update method <method-name>
  add http://<f.q.d.n>:<password><h>&myip=<a>

Open in new window

Then on the dynamic addressed interface (usually Dialer 1)
 ip ddns update hostname <f.q.d.n>
 ip ddns update <method-name> host

Open in new window

<method-name> This is the name that you want to give the DDNS update, I usually use
<f.q.d.n> This is fully qualified domain name that is configured for Dynamic DNS on the …
When replacing some switches recently I started playing with the idea of having admins authenticate with their domain accounts instead of having local users on all switches all over the place.

Since I allready had an w2k8R2 NPS running for my access points I thought I'd use that. Though there are plenty of examples to find, none of them worked for my specific setup (I think it is the R2). So what better place there is to put one but here at EE.

Here we go.

First, if you haven't allready done so, install NPS on your server:

-Start server manager, right-click roles and choose 'add role'.
-In the Server Roles screen, tick 'Network Policy and Access Server'
 Select role(Here it's allready installed)

-Now do the 'next', 'install', 'finish' part and presto! NPS is installed.

Now we need to configure the NPS so the switch(es) will be able to authenticate against it:

Radius client

-Start NPS: Start->Admin Tools->Network Policy Server
-On the left side, go to: RADIUS Clients and Servers->RADIUS Clients
-Right click on 'RADIUS Clients' and select 'new'
 New client
-Under the settings tab, choose a friendly name for the client so you can identify it.
-Enter the ip address of the switch.
-Enter or generate a shared secret.
 New client 2
-Go to the Advanced tab and change the vendor name to 'Cisco'
 New client 3
-Click ok and the client is finished.

Connection Request Policy

-On the left …

Expert Comment

Thanks for the article.  Your instructions worked seamlessly.

Expert Comment

Pardon me as im not really knowledgeable. The switch IP is interface IP that is connected to this R2 server? What if you would like to configure it on another switch probably 4 or 5 hops away? Or do we just put the router ID as the ip address? Or do we put it on the interface ip address that we would like the policy to be applied, where the traffic comes into it? Then again, we are not only talking about authentication but firewall policy that defines authorisation.
How would you tell what computer was using up all of your Internet bandwidth ?

If you cannot answer this question, this article is for you.  

The solutions below should work with just about anything using established standards rather than proprietary software. Some commercial firewall appliances will already tell you this info. For this Article, I do refer to Sonicwall, but the suggestions will provide valuable information regardless. The resulting information is extremely valuable to have when there are problems (either real, or just perceived by your users).

Now, if budget was not a problem and there was a pressing need to just purchase something, I would probably purchase the PRTG Network Monitor ($380) or Solarwinds Orion NPM ($2475) because they will work with just about anything and aren't tied to Sonicwall.  They can even collect usage from packet sniffing so will work with ANYTHING.  

The quick answer may be able to just download and configure Passler PRTG trial or free version or AdvancedRM to get what you need, if needed "now".  Both of these utilities rely on SNMP.  PRTG also can collect info a few different ways and is more versatile and comprehensive.  Free version is limited to 10 sensors but the commercial version isn't that expensive compared to enterprise consoles.  If you enable the SNMP services on each of the servers and user systems as well as the Sonicwall, you can compare charts and get what you need.  

Being budget concious, what I …
LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:J Spoor
Overall a really good document !

Expert Comment

by:Kimberley from Paessler
Hi cybervzhn_tech,

Yes, a good article!  I wonder if you could update the parts about PRTG, since there's been a significant change in our licensing since 2010.  In particular, the 100-sensor licence which was $380 is now free!  The first paid license is now the 500-sensor license ($1600).  Could you please update the price from $380 to $1600, and then later in the article, where you talk about 10 free sensors, update this part to 100 sensors?


Kimberley (from Paessler)

Network Operations





Network Operations includes asset management, help-desk supervision, security and user policies, infrastructure administration and anything else that affects the operation of your network. Discussions will include those of best practices in platforms, configurations, performance, security and accounting.