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Network management is the top-level administration and maintenance of large networks, often in areas such as computers or telecommunications, but not including user terminal equipment. In network management, functions such as security, monitoring, control, allocation, deployment, coordination and planning are executed. Network management is governed by a large number of protocols that exist for its support, including SNMP, CMIP, WBEM, Common Information Model, Java Management Extensions, Transaction Language 1, and Netconf.

Routing, which refers to the process of selecting the paths in a computer network on which to send data, is an important area of network management. In this area of network management, logically addressed packets are passed from their source to their destination through nodes, which are called routers, in a process called forwarding. This is usually based on routing tables that maintain a record of the most efficient routes.
Security management is also a key component of network management. Security management protects a network from unauthorized access and includes many sub-functions, such as the authorization of subscriber access, control of the distribution of cryptographic keying material, and the distribution and reporting of security related events.

Configuration management relates to both the security and quality areas of network management. It refers to the management of security features in a network by controlling changes made to the software, hardware, firmware, documentation, and test features in a system. This area of network management keeps the system under control as it evolves and grows, maintaining quality and security.