Channel partners that manage customer networks face the difficult challenge of accurately managing the configuration of different networks simultaneously while quickly responding to customer service requirements 24/7.
Automated network configuration management tools provide channel partners a way to streamline secure delivery of managed network services, as well as a business opportunity to help customers use automated network configuration management tools more effectively.
Among the benefits are:
- Decreased time required to make configuration changes and to identify and correct network disruptions.
- Reduced network configuration errors and improved network staff productivity.
- Verification that a modified configuration doesn't create security vulnerabilities.
- Enforcement of ITIL, PCI, HIPAA, and customer-defined standards and best practices.
Channel partners can quickly verify a proposed change against these standards, which means they can securely manage an increased number of customer networks.
Getting started with automated network configuration management tools
The power of automated configuration tools demands a carefully designed organizational structure that specifies controls and privileges. Access controls must be defined, put in place and maintained.
Here, too, there is a key channel opportunity. Channel partners can act as impartial outside advisers, defining how to utilize skill sets effectively across the organization and ensure that a proper structure is created and maintained.
The role and access privileges of each staff member must be clearly defined: Only senior staff members should be allowed to make major changes, while junior members should be limited to less risky changes. Importantly, partners must make it clear that this role definition is a requirement if the tool is to be used effectively.
Integrating specialized devices with automated network configuration management tools
These tools support products from the major network product vendors. Channel partners can provide the additional integration required for the inevitable situations where support is lacking for a specialized device.
Finally, helping customers implement an automated configuration tool provides a view across the entire customer network. Channel partners should take advantage of this important opportunity to uncover other customer needs and additional sales or service opportunities.
Read more about automated network configuration management and how it can save your customer's network from errors, as well as choosing and implementing automated configuration management tools.
About the author
David B. Jacobs of The Jacobs Group has more than 20 years of networking industry experience. He has managed leading-edge software development projects and consulted to Fortune 500 companies as well as software startups.
This was first published in April 2010