Know Your Network – Introduction

Finally. My life has calmed down (a bit anyway), and I’m able to get back to my website and do some posting.

I’m going to start a series of posts having to do with the key responsibilities of a network engineer. If you are a new network engineer and just starting out, what are the main tasks you should concentrate on? Or, perhaps you have been a network engineer for a while, but work is keeping you so busy that you are concerned about forgetting to do key tasks in managing the network. I also have seen some network engineers so busy playing with the latest cool toys, that they end up neglecting their main responsibility. Either way, what are the key responsibilities and/or tasks that need to be done to properly manage a network? Here are my key areas that I make sure and focus on…

  1. Documentation – Know what networks you have (carriers, circuit id’s, support information, IP address assignments, etc.). Updated: WAN Drawing
  2. Backups – Maintain proper backups of all your key network infrastructure (router configs and IOS images, switch configs, firewall configs and filter descriptions, along with backup/VMDK files of network related servers).
  3. Logging – this includes SYSLOG’s from your network devices for user access tracking, alerting on device failures, configuration changes, power outages, etc.
  4. Network Outages – Proactively monitor your network for any outages, and be ready to respond quickly and accurately. (It’s very cool to call a remote site letting them know of a network outage, and they haven’t even noticed it yet.)
  5. Circuit Utilization – Know what traffic is running across your network, and be able to quickly identify applications that might be hogging too much bandwidth or be misbehaving. This will also give you the ability to perform capacity planning for future needs.
  6. Perimeter Protection – For the most part, this covers your firewall and any perimeter router(s) you may have in place. Tighten down the security on these devices per best practices.
  7. Cool Tools – Once you have the basics down, then you can start looking at some of the new tools and applications that can assist you in maintaining a robust and secure network (IE: Intrusion Protection Systems (IDS/IPS), Security Information and Event Management (SIEM’s), etc.)

Over the next several weeks I will take a more detailed look into each of the above items, and show you what I use to handle these tasks. Let me know what you think.


1 thought on “Know Your Network – Introduction

  1. Shane Killen

    Excellent choice for a post. And excellent info here. I’m looking forward to hearing what you have to say on these topics.

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