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Does a network monitoring tool deserve to be installed?

By Steve Kliff, Editor

There are several ways monitoring can save your business money, depending on the kind of business you run. While it's almost impossible to give solid numbers, think of monitoring as an insurance policy for your company, or a health plan for your system. In the best case, it can diagnose issues before they turn into problems, or in the worst case, it can get your system back on its feet in case of a service outage.

How a monitoring system can save my business money

First of all you might want to consider your operating costs. Take a look at your IT department; how did they deal with the last outage you experienced? Was your business offline? Could your suppliers get you on the phone? Did your order go through? A monitoring system can warn you if your server memory is reaching overload, or if your bandwidth is about to become saturated, and alert your system administrator to take preventative measures. Of course, in these situations it's impossible to predict what your losses might have been but, if you weigh up your potential losses against the cost of an Enterprise monitoring system, monitoring should work out cheaper in the long run.

If your business grows faster than you expected you might find your original bandwidth requirements growing faster than you can keep up with. A monitoring system can help you with tracking trends, and help you to predict when you need to increase your bandwidth. In this case, you're avoiding not only financial losses in lost orders, but also damage to your reputation, something which online businesses are particularly susceptible to.

Network monitoring can also help with bad configurations. As a system goes through inevitable upgrades it's important to make sure that the new elements are correctly integrated. You don't want your customers to be the first to find the issues. A monitoring system can run business transactions and discover any points in the system where new software is misbehaving, ensuring that any new configuration is operational.

Which monitoring tool is right for my business?

As more and more businesses move online (about a quarter of global manufacturing trade is now done online), potential downtime costs are staggering, and consequently the network monitoring sector is growing in tandem. So, the question is, what kind of system is right for my business or organization? There are many free platforms out there, some of them even monitoring the systems of blue chip companies who could easily pay for an Enterprise version (well, no-one gets rich spending their own money). An open source version may, however, be a false economy. Although the software is free, its installation and configuration isn't; and you'll need a dedicated team to keep an eye on it. They also lack a service level agreement, so if your in-house team can't fix an issue (even with the help of the plentiful online forums), there's no backup waiting at the other end of the phone.

For an inexpensive licensing fee, your company can invest in an Enterprise monitoring system. If you're installing a system for the first time, there will be an initial consultation to find out what your business's needs are, followed by help with the installation, training in the use of the tool, and backup in the form of a support team and an SLA. You're also acquiring a roadmap for the future of your business. Whether your IT team leave, your business grows, or you have to update your OS, your business won't be affected as the monitoring system doesn't require a sophisticated level of user knowledge, they can scale to adapt to your business and they can run on any OS.

This article only covers a small area of what a monitoring system can do for your business, i.e., saving costs in terms of lost productivity, but there are many features of monitoring which add value to your company, such as automatic report generating, trend analysis or stocktaking. Basically, if you can assign a number to it, you can monitor it.

More Stories By Javier Eduardo

Javier Eduardo is a product developer working in Madrid, Spain. He has been involved for more than 14 years in different IT projects in several industries such as Telecommunications, Banking and Tourism. He has developed different tools closely related to network communications (DNS, Radius and other protocols. He is currently working for Pandora FMS, a monitoring software developed in Spain.

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