What is network management and what constitutes a well managed network? Is it monitoring devices and links to ensure they are "up?" Is it backing up your device configurations? Is it tracking bandwidth utilization? Network management is all this and more. We often seem to confuse network monitoring with network management, but monitoring is really just the start.

Network management is about being proactive. It's about finding problems before the users do. It's being able to see what changes have taken place recently. It's about monitoring and analyzing trends. It's tracking software updates for your devices and deciding if and when they should be installed. It's creating procedures before a change, not during the maintenance window. Oh, and creating procedures to roll back the change if it all goes horribly wrong.

Planning and budgeting comes into play. I remember being surprised at how much time I spent "pushing paper" when I started as a sysadmin. In order to push these proverbial papers, you need data to analyze. You should be collecting the data you will need with your network management tools. After all, how can you plan for the future with no information about what has happened before. That's just shooting from the hip and making a wild guess...

This is a starting point for thinking about what goes into a well managed network. What else does a well managed network need? What challenges are you running into in trying to manage your network well?