A major challenge for IT managers is handling the growing number of users and devices on the organizational network.
Network devices can mean any new network component, such as servers, workstations, switches or routers. Users could be either new users or existing ones who have an endless number of complaints. In this article we'll look at handling these issues.
Subnet your network
A common problem most network managers face is deploying new applications on an already congested network.
Considering that most networks today are based on IP, one solution is to do subnetting. A basic networking book would define subnetting as the process of making smaller sets of logical IP networks out of a larger IP network. All subnets would be linked to each other through routers. This will break up the network into multiple collision domains, which would reduce the amount of broadcast traffic on the network. To create a subnet we have to create sub-portions of our allocated IP address pool. Suppose our network has addresses from 192.168.0.51 to 192.168.0.196, and we want to break this up into eight different subnets. You can easily do this using a subnet calculator. There are lots of them available online, and we've shown one in the screenshot. You can also do it manually, but that would require knowledge of working with binary numbers. Let's see how to use a subnet calculator:
- Enter the network portion of a TCP/IP address and the required number of sub-networks or nodes. As any book on IP networking would tell you, an IP address is broken into four octets. The first three octets define the network portion of the IP address for a Class C IP address.
- Click on 'Calculate' and it will list the network class (A, B or C), the number of sub-networks, the number of nodes per sub-network and the subnet mask to use. As per the IP addresses we defined above, you should get the following results:
host address range 1 to 30
192.168.0.32 255.255.255.224 host address range 33 to 62
192.168.0.64 255.255.255.224 host address range 65 to 94
192.168.0.96 255.255.255.224 host address range 97 to 126
192.168.0.128 255.255.255.224 host address range 129 to 158
192.168.0.160 255.255.255.224 host address range 161 to 190
192.168.0.192 255.255.255.224 host address range 193 to 222
192.168.0.224 255.255.255.224 host address range 225 to 254
You can also calculate the network and node components of a TCP/IP address using a subnet calculator. To get a listing of all subnets, click on 'List Subnets'. The number of networks or nodes must be a multiple of two. If you enter a value that is not a multiple, the calculator will round it up to the next higher one. If you enter a value in 'Required nodes', the calculator will use this value to calculate everything. If you wish to base the calculations on the 'Required sub-networks' you must enter a zero in the 'Required nodes' field.
The other way to handle network congestion is through network segmentation. Quite in sync with the English meaning of the word segment, a network segment denotes a part of a network or WAN or LAN, etc. Typically, computers in a segment are physically grouped together by cable. Cardinally, the need for doing so is to increase bandwidth and to span the network over greater distances. Let's have a look at some common problems of a network administrator that can be taken care of using segmentation.
To begin with we can say that by just breaking up a network into smaller segments we can minimize overall traffic loads. Needless to say that a byproduct of this would be truncated collisions. Moreover, since bandwidth is a shared entity, but each segment and its users have full use of the bandwidth available in that segment so in effect it will increase the bandwidth available to each user. By segmenting a network you can also overcome Ethernet distance limitations because by doing so the starting point from which the maximum distance for the cabling is determined is re-established. Wireless LANs and customer extranets are some practical examples of effective use of network segmentation. Enterprises can arrest any potential damages in case of an attack by placing these users in their own segment, behind their own policy-based firewall. You can segment a network by either using switches or routers.
This is another common problem being faced by network managers, and the way out is to consolidate. Instead of having 10 different standalone servers, use a rack. This will also help you scale up as your needs grow. It would also help you save a lot of floor space.
A major problem for IT managers is user management. Today, the number of mobile users on a network is increasing. These users constantly move in and out of office with their laptops. They pose a serious security risk to networks. You therefore need to doubly ensure that their notebooks are well protected all the time. Ensure that their anti-virus software is updated at all times and their firewall is always running.
The other problem is to handle the barrage of complaints users keep making every day. In fact, it's likely that a majority of the complaints would be similar in nature. For instance, email is not working, or the user is unable to browse the Internet, etc.
There are standard answers to most of these complaints. The best thing to do therefore would be to collate all the common problems and their solutions and put them
on the office Intranet. Keep updating it regularly, and encourage your users to go through it before making frantic calls to the support staff.¨
Why logical segments?
Why logical segments?
Dividing the network into logical segments at an enterprise level, gives several benefits
- Enhanced interface density without any extra expenditure
- Consequently lesser policy making costs
- Getting impervious to unauthorized users and minimizing damages in case of an attack
- Easier management of VPNs because of dynamic routing