- Network management is the act (art) of initializing monitoring and modifying the operation of the primary network functions [Pras]
- Network management includes all the activities needed to keep the network running in such a way that it both satisfies the user needs and the provider constraints. [Festor]
- Network management determines the supervision of networked systems to make sure that they behave according to some pre-defined goals [Stiller]
Note that many more definitions exist:
- OSI Management Framework: OSI Management: the facilities to control, coordinate and monitor the resources which allow communications to take place in the OSI environment
- CCITT E.410: International network management: the function of supervising the international network and taking action when necessary to control the flow of traffic Network management requires real-time monitoring and measurement of current network status and performance, and the ability to take prompt action to control the flow of traffic
- ITU M.3010: This recommendation presents the general architectural requirements for a TMN to support the management requirements of administrations to plan, provision, install, maintain, operate and administer telecommunication networks and services
- We can distinguish between managed systems and manager systems
- Managed systems are always implemented in hard and software, management systems can additionally be implemented in terms of "brainware"
- Management involves activities of human beings
- Management decisions often operate on larger timescales, lasting at least multiple round-trip times
- Management is performed in the operational phase, although management interfaces may be included in the design phase
If the management functions are too complex or too expensive to implement them in hard / software, they can be provided by a human manager ("brainware"). If after some time the functions are better understood or cheaper to implement, it might be better (faster, less error-prone) to automate these functions and implement them in (hard or) software. In [pras] this process is described as the move from "explicit" to "implicit" management. In some network environments the goal may be to automate all management functions (and thus remove the need for a human manager / management); such networks can be seen as autonomous.