Network management refers to the activities, methods, procedures, and tools that pertain to the operation, administration, maintenance, and provisioning of networked systems.
* Operation deals with keeping the network (and the services that the network provides) up and running smoothly. It includes monitoring the network to spot problems as soon as possible, ideally before users are affected.
* Administration deals with keeping track of resources in the network and how they are assigned. It includes all the "housekeeping" that is necessary to keep the network under control.
* Maintenance is concerned with performing repairs and upgrades - for example, when equipment must be replaced, when a router needs a patch for an operating system image, when a new switch is added to a network. Maintenance also involves corrective and preventive measures to make the managed network run "better", such as adjusting device configuration parameters.
* Provisioning is concerned with configuring resources in the network to support a given service. For example, this might include setting up the network so that a new customer can receive voice service.
Functions that are performed as part of network management accordingly include controlling, planning, allocating, deploying, coordinating, and monitoring the resources of a network, network planning, frequency allocation, predetermined traffic routing to support load balancing, cryptographic key distribution authorization, configuration management, fault management, security management, performance management, bandwidth management, and accounting management.
A large number of access methods exist to support network and network device management. Access methods include the SNMP, Command Line Interfaces (CLIs), custom XML, CMIP, Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI), Transaction Language 1, CORBA, netconf, and the Java Management Extensions - JMX.
Schemas include the WBEM and the Common Information Model amongst others.
Data for network management is collected through several mechanisms, including agents installed on infrastructure, synthetic monitoring that simulates transactions, logs of activity, sniffers and real user monitoring. In the past network management mainly consisted of monitoring whether devices were up or down; today performance management has become a crucial part of the IT team's role which brings about a host of challenges -- especially for global organizations.
Note: Network management does not include user terminal equipment.