IT monitoring a network

The Value of Real-Time Monitoring Your Network

No matter the size or complexity of your network, monitoring it is always a great idea and hallmark of a good IT Professional. With today’s connected IT systems and the emerging adoption of Hybrid and Public Cloud, finding issues quickly is paramount. Our networks have to provide the level of service we need for fun or business. The faster we can resolve issues; the more money we can save for our companies. In the event of a threat situation, notifications can be set to report. Having real-time information about your network health saves you money and reduces troubleshooting time.
 

Real-time Traffic Shaping

Analytics of your network operation provide you with baselines of performance. With real-time monitoring, you can observe the performance and then create traffic models. These traffic models are used for traffic shaping rules that allow you to monitor, for example, the network service File Transfer Protocol (ftp).  A traffic shaping rule applied to the application ftp could control the transfer speed over the network and guarantee ftp receives as little or as much bandwidth as the admin desires. Shaping application traffic task is easy with real-time monitoring and saves time, thus it also saves money. Some network services must have, not only guaranteed performance, but guaranteed quality as well. The biggest dog in the yard for network consumption is video. Things like screen-shares, online meetings, skype calls, or to simplify: video and audio. All networks have a certain amount of delay, and with audio and video we call it jitter. These types of services have to be prioritized on the network to ensure no queuing delays. 
 

You Can Skip the Physical Layer Checks

I have done my fair amount of network troubleshooting with great stories and hella funny stories along the way. The most dreaded request ever heard in IT support is “My internet is down”. Here is some Troubleshooting 101: When presented with a networking issue start with the physical layer first. That means you should make sure physical checks are done first, for example, the cables are plugged in and ports are active on workstations, switches, and routers. Checking the physical layer is extremely time consuming. With real-time monitoring, that time-consuming first step is left behind. I get an instant view of the network port’s health. This view confirms good connectivity and recent configuration changes and events on the network. This immediate information allows quick decisions and doesn’t take an hour.
 

Bandwidth Utilization

It’s not uncommon during the implementation of a cloud service, that bandwidth utilization is not a concern or has become and oversight. E-mail is some of the lightest traffic around, however if you have 1200 workstations and 400 smartphones connected to a server in your datacenter, but tomorrow they will be connecting to a server in the cloud; all your traffic once running on the fast superhighway of the local network is now going over a single shared internet connection. Using real-time monitoring a good way to approach this issue is to deploy a cloud service with a few connectors and then monitor the bandwidth utilization. This set-up should give you a good estimate on what level of internet is required when deploying cloud services. 
 

Threat Detection

The typical hacker will spend on average of about 205 days in your network before discovery. The first start to any hack is Reconnaissance, the goal of course, is to gain a single point of entry. I have already made a lot of points about saving labor time and having less downtime because you have real-time monitoring. However, threat detection is the single greatest reason for real-time monitoring. Security breaches cost lots of money. The cost of your real-time monitoring vs. the cost of a security and monitoring wins every time. I am going to begin a long list of security services provided by real-time monitoring so skip this next portion unless you are interested.
 
  • Active network scanning for network inventory and passive network monitoring.
  • Intrusion Detection for workstations and networks.
  • File integrity monitoring.
  • Vulnerability testing, assessment, and continuous monitoring.
  • Custom reports for issue correlation and even timeline incident response guidance.
  • Log Collection and Analysis.
  • Full Packet Capture and Mirror.
  • Integration in workstation AV for Next-Gen Firewall.
  • Failover Testing during a backup restore.

The two main drivers of the value of real-time monitoring decrease downtime and decrease man-hours. The #1 message from business units is that IT should do more with less. Even if you cannot afford to purchase a great pre-integrated monitoring tool there are some decent free ones available. They don’t have all the same features of the ones I’ve mentioned above, however; my top five in no particular order:
 
  • The dude
  • Splunk
  • Nagios
  • Spiceworks
  • OpenNMS
  • Boom! There you go! Five free monitoring tools.
 

What are the Real Savings?

Now, as I said, they are not feature parody across the offerings, but they are a start and better than nothing. If running a successful business is about getting the right people in the right seats, then running great IT services is about getting the right information to the right people in the seats. It’s a foundational IT practice that displays the maturity of an organization’s information services staff. If the average IT worker spends .5 hours on a physical network check and receives four calls on the network each month that’s two full hours saved. Then of course, to calculate the Return On Investment (ROI) we’ll factor cost in four ways. Then I’ll take it one step closer and help you designate a budget.
 

Cost Factors

  • Labor – use the employee’s salary to calculate staff time-savings, support tickets, reducing time to fix.
  • Avoiding outages – review last three years or outages issues and calculate based on before and after %.
  • SLA- SLA Management QA cost (Service Level Agreement)
  • Business Continuity Plan – review the business continuity plan, calculate the number of hours saved with real-time monitoring based on impact to the plan, with and without real-time monitoring.

Once the four factors have been calculated, spend half of what your saving. The organization will still have real-time monitoring and still save money from the investment. Make sure to work with project managers and business analysts to capture your numbers with the four factors after the monitoring has been deployed. You may find yourself with more budget next year.

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Author

Wiz E. Wig, Mascot & Director of Magic
Wiz E. Wig

Director of Magic

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