Policy-based Management: Beyond The Hype
by Michael Jude

Published March 2001





When first conceived in the late 1990s, policy-based network management (PBNM) promised enterprise IT shops the ability to control the quality of service (QOS) experienced by networked applications and users. Accounting transaction data, for example, could be assured of high throughput, while email got best-effort delivery.


In fact, the hype went further than that: Vendors promised that CIOs or CEOs would soon be able to control policies through a simple graphical interface on their desk. Behind the scenes, those instructions would translate into specific traffic management adjustments, bypassing traditional network operations.


Reality, of course, is different. PBNM turned out to be difficult to put into practice. Early adopters have found that developing and deploying policies is not simple, cheap or quick. Instead, PBNM has been a time-intensive, complex, expensive process. Additionally, it has demanded that the enterprise organization mutate to match the technology—rather than the technology meeting the enterprise’s management needs.


Finally, many PBNM solutions tend to be single-vendor approaches and, as such, are not readily employed in existing multivendor networks. Despite these setbacks, there are good reasons why the lofty goals of PBNM are still being pursued, and there are PBNM tools that can provide useful capabilities.



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