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OA&M is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of factors that have to do with the operation of computer networks and systems. Essentially, OA&M identifies all aspects of the process by categorizing each function in one of three classes: operations, administration, and management. From this perspective, OA&M can be said to address everything from the design and installation of hardware to the upkeep and maintenance of both hardware and software.
In terms of operations, OA&M often has to do with the selection of hardware that is used to construct the computer network. This will include the selection and integration of servers, work stations, remote access stations, backup equipment, telephony, and any other aspect that involves the mechanical structure of the network proper. The selection of software to run on the backbone of the system is also usually classified as part of the operations effort in an overall OA&M strategy.
The administration function of the OA&M model often focuses on determining how the network is utilized. Part of this function involves managing the access credentials that are issued to each authorized user of the network. The credentials must be configured to allow each user to gain access to programs and portions of the network that are essential to the performance of assigned duties. At the same time, the access credentials ensure that proprietary information is only available to users who have a legitimate need to make use of the data.
Management functions within the OA&M model often focus on keeping the network running smoothly. This is where periodic diagnostics are performed on the network components, as well as system backups. Troubleshooting on an ongoing basis helps to minimize the chances that the network will be disabled for any period of time. As such, the manager within the OA&M model is extremely important, especially in businesses where the majority of functions are computer driven.
Just about any organization that makes use of computers will have some type of OA&M model. Even a small business with one location will normally contain at least a couple of workstations that require a connection to a server and some type of telephony access to the Internet. While a single person may be responsible for all three main categories or classes within the OA&M model, the essential structure is still necessary.