DCN September 2016 - Page 28

network monitoring A NUMBERS GAME Dirk Paessler of Paessler argues the case for networking monitoring. ‘J ust give me the numbers’ is something data centre managers might dread hearing; being asked to define the value of what you do when your work underpins almost everything the company does can be a real headache. The fact is that there are a vast number of soft costs that can only be seen in the long run and can never have a concrete number attached to them. While data is helpful, there’s often no simple way to quantify the return on investment you get from investing in new technology – and network monitoring is no different. Here we attempt to take a closer look at all the benefits that give you a more complete picture of the ROI. It’s a hard exercise, but a rewarding one for anyone interested in where the money is going and where it is being saved. Hard costs Naturally, the ‘hard costs’ are easier to identify than the soft ones. The licensing and hardware costs, implementation costs, upgrades and module costs, and service and maintenance fees: all these go into the costs ledger, while the more incremental costs of additional modules and add-ons must also be factored into the long term 28 calculation. Nor can you forget the possibility of future technologies needing a new monitoring solution. In the savings column you can analyse the efficiency benefits for your IT department. A network monitoring tool can help you to quickly and easily determine which versions of software and hardware you have and keep yourself permanently up to date. It can also help you to work out what technology you might need (or not need) helping you to plan more carefully, rather than spending on unnecessary tools. Split shifts and ‘on-call’ hours are eliminated by a comprehensive monitoring system, which is a 24/7 sentinel for the data centre. In addition, network monitoring allows you to do long term data collection to analyse the utilisation of hardware and bandwidth, the upshot of which is that routers, switches, servers and other hardware can be optimised to meet exact requirements, so reducing unnecessary costs. For example, rather than having a server running at 10 per cent of capacity, you may be able to virtualise it to use more of its available capacity and get a better utilisation. Or you could do continuous monitoring of a hard drive to predict when the capacity of the drive will be used up, allowing you to proactively plan for a replacement. Downtime The cost of network downtime and failures is the next factor to consider. A number of firms have done studies on the impact of downtime. For example, in 2014 Gartner estimated the average costs of network downtime to be around £3,900 per minute. But while exact numbers are elusive, industry experts have made estimates that convey that downtime can have huge costs. The key question is, ‘how much money per minute does a network failure cost my company?’ This will depend on what your company does and when the outage occurs – an outage at an online retailer during the preChristmas rush is substantially more damaging than an outage on a Friday afternoon in August. Some other ‘soft’ factors include things like your shopping site being unavailable due to a network outage. How many customers and how much revenue is lost when customers aren’t able to make a purchase? How do they express frustration? Do they complain on social media? Do take their business elsewhere? There is no hard number here, but the negative impact can have obvious lasting effects. There are of course other more strategic, long term benefits of network monitoring in the data