Network Management encompasses a broad range of functions, tools and procedures used to maintain, operate and keep the network alive at all times.The main areas in Network management include:Administration: Tracking network resources, monitoring performance and keeping their software up-to-date.Operation: Ensure smooth functioning of the networkMaintenance: Repairing faulty devices and timely checking of the health of network resources.Provisioning: Configuring network devices for particular services.1Hardware/Software which can be used to perform the above tasks are called Network management tools and the integration of multiple such tools to keep the network operational and efficient results in a Network Management Solution.Like any software, NMSs can be from open-source initiatives or commercial vendors. Open-source softwares have their code freely available on the internet, so anybody can view, modify and identify bugs in the software. The idea behind it is to cultivate innovation and a mass collaboration that results in the software being constantly fixed, updated and making it more secure. On the other hand, closed-source or “commercial” softwares do not divulge source code to the customers or public for many reasons, be it competition or security. In other words, people who buy those softwares are not paying for the software, but in fact just paying to use it.2Pros of using open-source over commercial NMS:Cost: Open source products are cheaper than commercially marketed products. The cost of commercial NMS can go over thousands of dollars3 as compared to almost none for open source NMS.Reliable: Open-source softwares are a bit more reliable and less susceptible to attacks compared to commercial software. As the code is freely available, there are numerous eyes looking for defects and bugs and many skilled professionals to fix it in the shortest possible time. This is one of the reasons why Linux (open-source) is considered more secure compared to Windows (commercial). 4Flexible: Open-source lets you mix and match to create your unique solutions. If no one has done it before, you can! This applies specifically to NMS as every network is unique and the ability to customize your monitoring software instead of going by a cookie-cutter software which defines the operational parameters is priceless.Cons of open-source over commercial NMS:Operability: Yeah, traditional open-source softwares usually start in a basement by a bunch of computer geeks who do not care much about user-friendliness of the application. So, some of them may not turn out be as user-friendly as commercial softwares who have user-experience designers to make the life of end-users easier. Open-source softwares these days have come a long way in making the applications user-friendly and one of many such examples is “Wireshark” which is the number one packet analyzing tool and is completely open source.Do not have extensive support: As the software is created and modified by a bunch of people, there is no one to point to in case something goes wrong. Below is the EULA (End User License Agreement from Wireshark which says there is “No Warranty” for the program and the entire risk is borne by the user. This is not the case with commercial applications where the softwares come with warranties which can be renewed and in the time period, the software would be fixed by the company in case something goes wrong. As there is no requirement to create a commercial product, the software may evolve more based on the developers’ view and not on the end-user requirements. Also, for a beginner, closed source software would be the safer approach as it provides a the necessary features with the required support.
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