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Untold revenue is lost when a business' network slows down, much less suffers a network crash. That's why it's imperative to help your customers select the solution that most closely matches their needs. Here, Brinsa, Paessler's executive senior vice president, offers advice on how to help solution providers make the wisest possible network monitoring solution decision with their clients.—Jennifer Bosavage
A network crash, or even a slight slowdown, can cause business operations to come to a screeching halt. Idled partners and annoyed customers often curse under their collective breath as IT personnel scramble to restore function and minimize harm to a business’ reputation and bottom-line profitability. Long gone are the days when administrators can seamlessly transition to manual systems while repairs take place. Therefore, owners and managers must take every possible step to guard against network failure. Today’s ultra competitive environment makes a company’s choice of a network monitoring system among its most important business decisions. As a qualified reseller, you are a good starting point for those seeking advice.
While many options—based on company and infrastructure size, bandwidth and other technical factors—exist, network monitoring software must always ensure continuous connectedness among locations, clients and partners. It also must immediately alert both on- and off-site IT personnel to errors or malfunctions for quick intervention and repair. Not only does this prevent lengthy network outages, but also it frees network administrators to perform tasks other than keeping constant vigil over servers, PCs and applications.
Time is money. A recent survey found that nine out of 10 clients using network monitoring software record significant time savings, with 43 percent able to free IT personnel to perform three hours of other administrative tasks each week. Systems with comprehensive trend analysis functionality better measure bandwidth usage, CPU loads, and performance of physical and virtual servers, allowing staff to more systematically plan and provide for added resources.
Network monitoring solutions come in a variety of “flavors” and sizes, including, among others, open source software, so-called introductory solutions, specialized systems, enterprise network management software, and “all-in-one” packages. Because so many options exist, many IT teams prefer to purchase their monitoring solutions through their preferred reseller. Budget-constrained IT departments often choose open source software, sometimes overlooking their required implementation and configuration, as well as limited functionality. Introductory solutions provide basic functionality offerings, requiring the transition to higher performance software with system growth or a requirement for more stringent network monitoring. Advanced monitoring capabilities can include Flow-monitoring, packet sniffing and WMI, to name a few.
Systems addressing specific areas within a network are an option for companies focused primarily on such functions as monitoring high-performance cables in combination with broader solutions. These and introductory solutions serve as a building blocks leading up to more robust enterprise network management solutions, which have more powerful features and capabilities. Its overall complexity and steep licensing costs generally make it less palatable for mid-sized companies, as does the fact that its capabilities, functionality and usability in monitoring respects often pale in comparison to stand-alone network monitoring solutions.
All-in-one solutions use SNMP, packet sniffing, flow protocols, and WMI for bandwidth, performance and availability monitoring, and provide a wide selection of predefined ‘sensors’ to collect data from very different sources (SQL, FTP, http, Exchange, POP3, virtual servers, and VoIP connections among others). Those solutions are easy to install and include professional and reliable manufacturer support. Their scalable licenses accommodate growing network structures, but their price ranges can financially strap a company with unnecessarily high dollar investments.