After a network is established, it must be managed to realize its full potential. Network management issues include making provision for disaster recovery, load balancing, bandwidth management, and maintaining network security. For example, disaster recovery plans and support for inevitable network electronics and media failure should consider fire, electrical disturbances, power outages, or intentional destruction. Part of disaster recovery planning includes securing redundant systems, such as running extra cables when installing a wired network, and installing a bank of 56K dial-up modems available for Internet access in the event that the high-speed Internet connection fails.
Load balancing, in the context of network management, refers to a method of distributing data volume among multiple paths so that the throughput of the overall system is maximized. For example, if there are two equivalent network paths, one carrying 10 percent of the network traffic and the other 90 percent, then the first path is underutilized, and the second path is likely degraded because the routers and other electronics are saturated with traffic. Load balancing involves configuring routers and other network electronics so that the network traffic is spread as evenly as possible among the various network segments and devices to maximize throughput of the network.
Bandwidth management involves load balancing as well as upgrading equipment when necessary in order to support the increasing computational needs of bioinformatics R&D. Bandwidth management is in part dependent on the cost and availability of higher-bandwidth electronics and the work involved in laying new cable.
Perhaps the greatest management challenge is maintaining adequate security. This task entails monitoring the Internet on a daily basis to check for word of new viruses or security holes in the operating system, and installing the appropriate software patches and utilities to address the new threats.