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5 Essential First Steps When Managing a New Network

Editor's note: This guest post comes from Auvik, a sponsor at Cherwell's upcoming conference, Clear 2020 Virtual. It was originally published on the Frankly IT blog in an extended format.

In a perfect world, taking on a new network to manage would be a breeze. On your first day, you’d find tons of documentation on the IT infrastructure awaiting you. Login credentials would be securely recorded and ready for review.

Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world. That’s why managing a new network can be tough—especially if you’re joining a brand new team or taking on a new site and aren’t sure what’s been done before.

So where do you start when you step into a totally unfamiliar network and are looking to make a stellar first impression? Following these five steps will help you do both.

1. Map the network

You can’t manage what you can’t see, which means you can’t effectively manage a company’s IT systems without first learning the topology of the network that binds them together. In the past, you’d likely spend the first few days or weeks drawing out a network map.

Luckily, modern network topology tools like Auvik make mapping networks quick and easy. You don’t have to trek across server rooms and office floors, clipboard in hand, to figure out which devices are on the network and how they’re connected. All you have to do is deploy, and you’ll have an accurate network map in minutes.

TIP: You can deploy Auvik and see your entire network in just minutes. Plus, it’s free for 14 days.

2. Figure out how the network is configured

Ideally, the company already has a configuration management solution in place and you can simply log into it to see how the network devices are configured.

But you may discover there’s no documentation on configurations at all, the documentation is static and out of date, or backups have never been made.

In that case, your first step to regain control is a complete configuration backup. Logging the configs of every device can be a painful, time-consuming exercise but luckily—just as with network mapping—there are software solutions that can handle it all for you.

A configuration management system—and some network management systems like Auvik—will tell you which configs you have running, monitor those configs over time, and automatically back them up when changes are made. Configuration monitoring allows you to keep track of the changes you make as you get to know the infrastructure—and roll those changes back seamlessly when you press the wrong button (it happens!) and break something.

3. Patch, patch, patch

Hopefully, your predecessor made every effort to apply software updates regularly to the apps, network devices, and management tools on the network. Patches, after all, are the main line of defense against known security vulnerabilities. They also eliminate major bugs that can frustrate admins and users alike.

If that’s not the case, downloading and installing the latest updates should be near the top of your agenda. Most often updates are free or included in an annual maintenance agreement, and they’re also usually pretty simple to install.

4. Audit licenses and certificates

You don’t want to wait until a device fails to find out that the licensing agreement for it has lapsed, and you don’t have access to vendor support at the time you need it most—your first weeks with a new network.

And that’s not all you have to worry about if your licenses are out of date. The issue could also result in unexpected bills for your company or your client, especially because some software vendors look to extract revenue from customers who use products without valid licences. Since outdated licences both make your job harder and put companies at compliance risk, don’t put licensing audits on the backburner.

5. Remove or replace obsolete equipment

Over time, network equipment can show the effects of its age—performance starts to slow, vendors stop providing security patches and software updates leaving vulnerabilities in the network, and they lose compatibility with newer devices on the network.

Not only do they become a pain to manage, but they also act as attack vectors that bad actors might use to get onto the network.

Looking at the network map, you may see servers that could be consolidated, machines that could be turned off, or even unused gear collecting dust in a corner. Now’s the perfect time to get rid of it.

About Auvik 

Auvik is cloud-based network management. Learn more or dive in and see your network with a free 14-day trial.

See your network in Auvik

Visit Auvik’s virtual booth at Cherwell Clear 2020 to meet the team and get your questions answered. And join Auvik’s co-founder and Chief Product Officer Alex Hoff for his session on Embracing Shadow IT.

Auvik is one of our valued Cherwell Partners and a sponsor for Clear 2020 Virtual — be sure to connect with Auvik during the conference. For more information about this year's virtual experience, visit the conference website and reserve your spot. 

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