The needs of an enterprise are constantly evolving, which creates a continuous demand on the network. The solution to support those current and emerging requirements is an independent management plane, also known as an Out-of-Band network. It provides an organization with many remote capabilities – a necessity when dealing with current travel restrictions, staffing shortages and the increase of distributed sites. In this blog series, we’ll discuss how Out-of-Band management is the first step when creating a resilient network –  and once you’ve got that, how simple it is to introduce NetOps into your enterprise. Flexibility and functionality are able to be added in by just layering it onto an existing solution, like Out-of-Band, but we’ll get to that later.

Let’s start by talking about current network architectures. The way many networks are setup assumes that an organization relies on its production network to manage that same network – and this isn’t a great idea. It’s dangerous because when an issue occurs, most times, an engineer won’t have access to that production network, disabling them from accessing critical devices and interrupting business operations.

To keep the network running at all times and reduce downtime as much as possible, a separate, secure management plane is key. An Out-of-Band network provides engineers with a secondary way to securely connect to the network during an outage. This enables them troubleshoot and remediate any issues remotely, while also providing the ability to complete many other every day device management tasks. During a disruption, Out-of-Band is your safety net.

Identifying And Remediating Network Issues

When network issues occur, most times, the Internet is still available but it can be impossible to use because the amount of congestion.  When this happens, enterprises often make the mistake of pushing the configuration point to a network device. This actually slows down the network. The sheer volume of traffic flowing through it makes it even more difficult for a network engineer to access the relevant device, go in via the production network and fix it. Out-of-Band solves that problem by providing always on access to the network via a separate management plane.

Not only does this allow engineers to remediate the issue without having to step on site or interfere with business operations, it also improves security. It gives administrators the ability to lock down features in the production network. For example, only allowing team members with certain credentials to push a configuration.

This particular feature is helpful because as we know, in most organizations, there are lot of individuals in an IT department that have access to the main production network. Anyone who has IT credentials has a reason to access it. This is just one of the many reasons why it’s important to set the network aside for engineers only. They have specific tasks to do that nobody else from the team would be qualified to complete, like configuring devices. In general, that is a task that organizations would typically not want anyone else from the IT team, or a third party contractor to do because one push of the wrong button can take down the entire network and cost thousands of hours in downtime.  Rather than everybody using the same production network, an enterprise can set up an independent management plane for the sole for use of its network engineers.

Having this capability is just one of the many reasons why we call Out-of-Band, the network for network engineers. It provides them with the ability to configure devices, manage the network and automate common NetOps processes. It addresses most of their network management challenges while also anticipating future ones. Their networks are prepared for today’s requirements and to meet tomorrow’s demands.  One capability that many organizations are integrating into their networking approach is automation. For many, this is adding in NetOps capabilities.

The NetOps Dimension

Out-of-Band plays a key role in NetOps automation. But what actually is NetOps?  It stands for ‘network operations’ but that doesn’t paint the full picture. Stay tuned for Part 2, where we discuss entering the world of NetOps and how Out-of-Band can help.