Network configuration is the process of assigning network settings, policies, flows, and controls. In a virtual network, it’s easier to make network configuration changes because physical network devices appliances are replaced by software, removing the need for extensive manual configuration.
Network configuration can also be automated and managed via a centralized configuration manager network configuration manager, further reducing manual IT workload and making it easier to:
- Maintain a network
- Make configuration changes
- Relaunch devices
- Track and report data
Some network configuration basics include switch/router configuration, host configuration, software and firewall configuration, and network topology which can be controlled through rest APIs.
The right network configuration is essential to supporting the flow of traffic through a network, and it can also support and enhance network security and improve network stability. In addition, the use of network configuration management manager and or configuration tools can provide a number of benefits, including:
- Automated data tracking and reporting, allowing administrators to spot any configuration changes and potential threats or issues
- An easy way to make bulk changes, such as a blanket password change in a situation where passwords are compromised
- The means to swiftly roll back network settings to a previous configuration
- Reduced downtime, thanks to increased visibility and the ability to quickly identify changes
- Streamlined maintenance and repair of network devices (physical or virtual) and connections
- The ability to relaunch a device when it fails, thanks to centralized storage management of device configurations
Zero-configuration networking refers to a set of technologies that allow network administrators to set up a network and connect devices without having to manually configure each device’s network settings.
This is particularly useful for allowing end users to easily connect to the network. However, for an administrator of an enterprise network, there are advantages to actively configure and monitor the network rather than relying on default settings.
Different types of network configuration in computer networks are commonly referred to as network topologies. A network topology describes how the nodes or devices (physical or virtual) in a network are arranged and how they communicate with each other.
Network topology can be physical (referring to where physical devices are placed in relation to each other) or logical (referring to how data is transmitted through the network, including any virtual or cloud resources). When choosing a network topology, an organization must consider the size of its network, its performance requirements and the flow of its traffic, among other factors.
Common network topologies include:
Bus: Every node in the network is connected along a linear path. This simple topology is used most often for small networks.
Ring: Nodes are connected in a loop, and traffic may flow in one direction or in both directions. Ring networks tend to be cost-effective, but not as scalable or stable as other network topologies.
Star: A central node connects to all other nodes in the network. This is a common and stable topology that’s often used for local area networks (LANs).
Mesh: Nodes are linked in such a way that multiple paths between nodes are possible. This type of network topology increases the resiliency of the network, but also increases cost. A network may be fully meshed (all nodes connecting to all other nodes) or partially meshed (only some nodes having multiple connections to other nodes).
Spine-Leaf (Tree): Multiple star topologies are connected together in a larger star configuration.
Hybrid: A combination of other topologies are used together within one network.
In a command-line environment, the commands ipconfig (for Windows network configuration) and ifconfig (for Linux network configuration, as well as Mac OSX and other Linux-like environments) allow you to view information about your network configuration and to configure your networsk interface.
With a network configuration manager or with APIs, you can check and set up the network configuration in a centralized software interface, allowing you to more easily configure, monitor and administer your network. A network configuration manager also enables the use of automation to make policy changes and updates.
When setting up a network switch and router, it’s important to customize settings and apply all necessary configurations to ensure that your network will work properly. Some of the configurable settings on a network switch and router include:
- IP address—for identification
- Password—for added security
- Channel and band selection—to improve performance
- Default gateway—to make the device visible to network management tools
- Neighbor discovery—for added visibility
- Correct time—for proper troubleshooting and detailed error logs
A network configuration manager is the easiest way to perform network switch configuration and apply these settings consistently to every device on your enterprise network.
Network monitoring is a function of network management that monitors a network and alerts network administrators to potential issues. The thresholds or conditions for alerting the administrator can be configured based on network traffic flow and business needs. When issues do occur, networking configuration management allows the administrator to quickly correct the problem by modifying the configuration or adding more network resources.