Talking about trends in the network management landscape, I'd like to further explore how network management no longer lives in a corporate vacuum and has to cohabit with a myriad of other organisational groups and departments - departments the network team never before had to contend with or consult with in the course of accomplishing its daily duties.

In the golden days of network management, let's say pre-2000, the network team handled everything and anything that touched the network backbone of the organisation. Whether it was tracked in the form of packets, sessions, transactions, protocols, or by ports it was the sole purview of the network team. Of course there was a prevailing attitude that if anything went wrong or didn't work on the corporate IT front, then it was the network's fault. It didn't matter whether it was a server-side issue or an errant application. It was always the network's fault.

Assuming the source of the problem was really focused in the server or application areas, members from those portions of the organisation would have to get any network-related information directly from the network team via formal request. They would typically submit their request, the network team would review their request, and if their request was deemed worthy, the information was sent over to the requesting team in its most raw or basic form. The recipients would just have to deal with what they were provided and use that information to try and isolate the source of the problem, identify the most appropriate corrective course of action, and then institute a fix, all with minimal information to go on.

Now, let's fast-forward to the present day. Requests for data, support, co-operation, etc., from the network team aren't just coming from their traditional IT counterparts - they're originating from across the entire enterprise. Those requests are coming from groups and departments like quality, procurement, legal, test, audit, compliance, senior management, database, the data centre, and within the NOC itself. Imagine the network team trying to field requests from all those diverse groups back in the golden days of network supremacy. They would have been doing nothing but responding to all those requests all day long.

Fortunately, times have changed, at least in some respects, for the better. Today we have newer network management tools, platforms and utilities that allow team members, from across the enterprise, to directly access these extensive resources for their own specific needs and uses. Many of these tools are capable of controlling and securing user access so that the end user is constrained to the product features and portions of network data they would typically need on a routine basis. With these tools, corporate teams and departments outside of the network group no longer have to beg and plead for access to available information when attempting to diagnose problems in their piece of the corporate IT world. And in many instances, resolving today's network-related problems is no further away than a log-in and quick examination of where the network management tools say the source of the root cause is located.

But even with all the latest and greatest management tools, there still needs to be an air of co-operation amongst the various corporate teams and departments. There are still those times when someone still may not have access to all the information they need. Or they need assistance in fully understanding all the information they have available to them. Or there are just those times when it takes a collective mind set to fully evaluate the aggregated information and make sense of it all.

The bottom line is there are no longer any isolated islands around the corporate landscape. Departments are dependent on one another for everything they do electronically these days, and co-operation and sharing are the keys to achieving established goals for everyone in the corporate community.