IT Network Support can include numerous services depending on the size and type of network. Many networks need management services which include traffic monitoring and control, load balancing, hardware diagnostics and failure alert, asset management, license tracking, security auditing, address management, and backup and restoration of data. Some companies have an internal IT network department, some have an IT Network Specialist but still use the services of an external IT Network Support organization, and some companies have no internal IT department and use the services of an IT Network company providing support. No matter which of these scenarios describes a company that uses computers and other network equipment, managing a network is a huge responsibility.
IT Network Support Provides Many Services
Managing traffic monitoring and control includes determining how much data transmission activity is taking place on the network and making sure the network does not become overloaded. Load balancing involves distributing network traffic evenly across a network so that single devices such as servers or printers do not become over tasked. Determining when network equipment fails and needs to be replaced or corrected is also a part of network management.
Asset management involves gathering, documenting, and storing information on all network-related assets that an organization owns, whether hardware or software. Asset management software can help those in IT Network Support positions have a database that is electronically stored and managed.
License tracking can be an overwhelming job to manage because most software must be licensed. There are Microsoft Office licenses, server licenses, terminal services licenses, backup software licenses, and many more. Terminal services licensing and Microsoft software has enough licenses. Compliance with licensing is a very important legal issue.
Security auditing involves determining what security measures are in force and knowing if any security breaches occur. Keeping a network safe from hackers and intrusions and keeping sensitive data safe is very important, this is one one the more important IT network support functions.
Software distribution involves installing applications from the server to a client on the network, making sure software updates are performed on servers and network computers, and restarting servers and computers after updates are performed if necessary.
Managing addresses on a network is another task for IT personnel or IT network support. Each computer, networked printer, and some other devices such as network switches, routers, and firewalls have unique IP addresses that must be managed, either statically or dynamically.
Backup and restoration of data is critical for a network. Backing up critical data files and folders, along with system files and then restoring the data if the original files are damaged or lost is all a part of network support tasks.
Mastering the Technical Challenges of IT Network Support
Those that work in IT network support positions must know how to install, configure, and troubleshoot network server software and hardware. Installing, configuring, and troubleshooting client software and hardware is also part of supporting a network. Network support personnel must understand the characteristics of different transmission media, network design, network protocols and how users interact with the network. Constructing a network with clients, servers, media, and connectivity devices are also all part of managing a network.
Companies that offer IT network support often have specialist in different fields such as network security, specific operating systems such as Windows, Mac, UNIX, Linux, Server 2008, etc. Some specialize in convergence which is the delivery of voice, video, and data over a network. Others may specialize in network management, Internet and intranet design, configuration of routers and switches, or data storage.
IT support professionals in the network field are responsible for tasks that protect a network such as assuring permissions assigned to users are correct, monitoring the network for unauthorized access or changes, recording authorized system changes in a change management system, installing redundant components and performing regular health checks on the network. Checking system performance, error logs, and the system log book regularly are also a part of keeping the network safe and secure. Keeping backups, boot disks, and emergency repair disks current and available are also part of the tasks to keep a network secure, along with implementing and enforcing security and disaster recovery policies.
When it comes to assuring permissions are assigned correctly, it is important to only allow network administrators to create or modify network operating system and application system files. IT network support can monitor the network for unauthorized access or changes by installing programs that routinely check whether certain files have changed. A change management system to record system changes could be manually or done by software.
Redundancy means that there is more than one network component installed and ready to use for processing and storing data. Critical network elements such as hard drives and the organization’s connection to the Internet are two items that should be redundant. When it comes to hard drives, it’s really not a matter of if they will fail; it’s a matter of when they will fail.
As you can see, IT network support involves a lot of different aspects and tasks.