Go To the Mattresses: Network Monitoring!

By February 12, 2011Boring Tech

Ok, so you’ve invested a colossal amount of capital on a rock’n IT infrastructure to support even more expensive applications that are going to thrust your company into the 21st Century to the top of the Fortune 1000, great. So how’s that working for you? Perhaps, the issues we have seen in the past with our older infrastructures are slowly creeping back into our lives?

Clemenza: Damn it, Sonny’s running scared. He’s thinking of going to the mattresses already.

Hmmm, well good thing, you have a good IT staff to quickly address issues that jeopardize your company’s network infrastructure. This Firehouse approach to IT just doesn’t quite fit the bill, does it? Because no matter how large that cape you wear on your neck is, it still can’t un-ring that bell that the system went down in the first place. So how does one prevent a reactionary stance when dealing with unexpected features of your infrastructure. I mean, does your staff enjoy working around the clock on these issues?

Apollonia: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, Saturday…

Perhaps an effective network monitoring strategy would be prudent. Uh, before you all jump in with, “I HAVE NETWORK MONITORING”; let me restate, “Perhaps an EFFECTIVE network monitoring strategy would be prudent”.

What’s network monitoring? And why should I care?

For the newbies, network monitoring serves as your 24 x 7 hands on deck, alerting you to any issues on your network. You can keep track of things like printer supplies, software installations, hard drive space, contract due dates – just about anything you can think of that relates to your network. Whenever something goes “south”, any good IT Manager asks, “Ok what has changed…” The vast majority of problems that arise in a network are directly related to something changing. The best network monitoring solutions will not only alert you to these changes, but will also help you troubleshoot the issue by allowing you to compare your network’s current state with what it looked like before the change. This means you can solve the problem faster!

Which network monitoring tool is best?

OK, so now you understand how monitoring network problems will help keep your users productive, your bosses happy, and reduce your stress levels by addressing issues before they accelerate … but how do you know which network monitoring tool is the right one? One that has at least these features:

Monitor PC hardware and supplies:

Monitor software:

Monitor web traffic:

Keep track of your IT services info

So let’s say you may have already invested in a Network Monitoring tool to listen to error messages. However, interestingly enough, like those baby monitor’s that new parents invest in; we rapidly turn a deaf ear to them, or effectively turn them off, because they inundate you with false positives, or maybe its just information overload. Just in case, for the newbies out there, NO, there is no amount of configuring that can make this less of a pain. Believe me when I tell you, that very few of the IT community out there use this proactive tool the way it was intended. Some in fact, use it as a large network topology map that notifies you when things have been whacked. It looks great, and gives the air of attentiveness, but it’s still a war room strike map at best. Or even worse, organizations only use the tool when something actually happened and we turn to the tool to see what died. An autopsy tool if you will.

What Did You Say?

Well, if you want this professional’s opinion, the best network monitoring tool is one that you don’t have to buy, configure, tune, repair, upgrade, or even operate. Quite frankly, your staff has better things to do rather than sift through miles of log files of the IT baby monitor info. So what does that really mean? DON’T INVEST IN A PROATIVE TOOL JUST TO USE IT AS A REATIVE ONE.

So What Do I Do?

Johnny Fontane: “I don’t know what to do, Godfather. My monitoring is weak, it’s weak. Anyway, if I had this ability in my infrastructure, it puts me right back on top, you know. But this… this man out there. He won’t give it to me, the head of finance.

Don Corleone: What’s his name?
Johnny Fontane: Woltz. He said there’s no chance, no chance…

Don Corleone: “YOU CAN ACT LIKE A MAN!What’s the matter with you? Is this what you’ve become, an IT Manager who cries like a woman? “Oh, what do I do? What do I do?” What is that nonsense? Ridiculous!

Basically, hire a service to take care of this and actually get useful, proactive information that can actually save you money, and in some situations, your job. Or continue to be like Johnny and be a big baby and cry some more. This way – you save the money on that horrendous bill for the application that you are going to use like a Topology Map and actually enlist a service that will not only use tools that your organization wouldn’t even consider, but actually monitor your infrastructure and do something about issues BEFORE they whack something in your organization.

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