I often assess the network monitoring tool offerings and the solutions out there are many, varied, featured, and a mess. Recently, I’ve been writing emails to leaders and sales people regarding their tool. This post is an accumulation of those emails with the points to debunk the myths and sales-speak claiming “next generation network monitoring” (NGNM) tools when it’s a miss. When I talk to peers who manage IT, this is what network monitoring means to real IT people.
If you’re selling a network monitoring solution, please read.
Business Intelligence Driven
- Meaningful, amazing, action compelling reporting. Most canned reports are lame and don’t add value. Give IT Managers and System Engineers reports that are incredibly insightful.
- Create fear… Show people how bad performance of the physical network, Active Directory, Exchange, and SQL environment is… Shock or affirm me.
AI-Driven Discovery, Identification, and Monitoring
- Manually defining hosts and services is so 1980s… NGNM tools discover what is out there, where it is, and give visibility to what should be monitored. Unleash the tool and let it do the work.
- Leverage AI to determine what things are. Manufacturer recognition, SNMP and WMI. Profiling works. Apply the concept here.
- Leverage the cloud by providing the database centrally. Don’t make me track down SNMP Mibs.
- Go beyond hosts and MIBs. Monitor IP Addressing (IPAM), Storage platforms, and cloud services.
Business Views, System Views, And 360 Views
- Include the physical datacenter. 2D/3D model of the datacenter, what’s in the cabinets, etc. Take what is discovered and place it in this vide.
- System views. Dynamically create core infrastructure views: LAN and WLAN. But also Active Directory, DNS, DHCP, Replication, SQL, SharePoint, etc. Identify unknown servers and services, forcing Engineers to get involved and document what is out there.
- Business views are good ways to see how systems interoperate, but affect the whole. WAN goes down, this is what it effects. Especially important when LAN meets Cloud services.
Intelligent Configuration Change Management
- If your scanning anyway, alert on changes to the environment. The tool needs to be able to fire alerts when they see a change from point A to point B.
- Connect to Change Management systems, like ServiceNow or ServiceDesk.
- Alerts trigger actions. Open a ticket. Run a script. Stop and restart a service.
- Virtualization automation. UCS automation.
- Or offer to plug into MS SCCM or VMWARE Orchestrator.
User Experience (UX)
- Clean, object based, tablet friendly user interface. Tabbed interfaces are great, if done smartly and intuitively.
- Use tried and true web UI navigation, such as breadcrumbs. Should take no more than 3 clicks to get to pertinent data.
- Dashboards and core technology modules should be modular, configurable, and reset-able.
- Adding URL’s or jump offs by host. NGNM says, “This server is running Splunk and here is the jump off.”
- Documenting systems is a major problem in the majority of IT shops. The NGNM should begin to leverage what it is gathering and offer to put together the documentation.
- Provisioning documentation and configuration snapshots (Check outhttp://sydiproject.com/ to see a starting point). NOC should be able to leap off the site to where the docs are.
- Change Management “changes” should be reflected in documentation.
- Give me something I can print. PDF preferable. Something I can give auditors.
Education & Community
- How do people spin up on the NGNM? Wiki is good, but there are better ways to educate and sell value. For example, YOUTUBE. Show me how to win.
- An active community full of ideas, helping each other, examining use cases, and growing the influence based on wins. Include me into a community of people wanting to win.