7 Key Network Challenges, And How To Overcome Them

Networking Problems

Budget constraint is becoming a way of life for IT professionals, who are being squeezed between limited spending and escalating demand for diverse services that are fast, powerful and continuously available.

For many, cutting expenses by selecting lower priced monitoring software might seem too risky. They may be wary of any trade-off that degrades service quality, and reluctant to trade capabilities and scalability for savings.

But the good news is that the more affordable network monitoring products are steadily maturing into comprehensive solutions capable of resolving even the most elusive issues quickly, and meeting the demands of business users. Such solutions can overcome the seven key challenges in application performance management (APM).

Core capabilities

The ability to find and fix problems quickly before users become frustrated and business goals are affected is a prime goal, and improving the find-fix rate is a key challenge for IT professionals. The technology to achieve this has evolved, including solutions at lower price points. When IT professionals consider replacing higher cost technologies for finding and fixing issues, it pays to investigate how effectively lower cost products can support rapid resolution of the following challenges:

1. Support for a user-and IT-service-oriented approach

2. Ability to link all application dependencies to streamline root cause analysis

3. Unified view of the health of the entire system and each contributing part

4. Easy to install and implement

5. Easy-to-customise application profiles

6. Easy-to-customise automated actions

7. Easy-to-customise dashboards and reports

A product that does not meet IT needs in each of these areas is no bargain, regardless of the savings on licenses. So IT should consider the following strengths before adopting a product.

User and IT service-oriented approach

Since user success is essential, every part of the monitoring infrastructure must provide capabilities to ensure that service is based on business needs. Key capabilities for user orientation include:

  • Ability to define and monitor complex IT services (not just individual devices or systems)
  • End-user monitoring
  • Ability to define service priorities so that alerts reflect urgency as well as severity
  • Automated actions so that many typical repairs can be made ASAP
  • Dashboards and reports that support the service-oriented approach.

Streamline root cause analysis

The only way to accelerate problem detection and root cause isolation, and satisfy business demands for service, is by defining and monitoring complete services. Lower cost solutions should provide an intuitive and well-crafted method for linking all dependencies for each application, including other applications such as databases, so that all potential problem sources are included in alerts.

Unified view of everything

Linking all application dependencies is part of the complete scope of managing service based on user satisfaction and business priorities. IT also needs to have all information available from a single central view, from consolidated alerts to details of the root cause. Otherwise, IT is left checking multiple views, manually comparing alert information and tracking down problem sources, which delays resolution and inhibits efforts to avoid discrete silos. Most high-end monitoring products offer a unified console, and IT should expect the same visualisation and centralisation from an affordable solution.

Easy to install and implement

Ease of implementation seems like a reasonable expectation, yet typically high-priced IT management software is so difficult to install, integrate and get running that it may take days to achieve even a baseline installation. Often IT needs to hire consultants and endure a long, iterative process of multi-stage implementation and fine-tuning, even with supposedly integrated products.

Yet customers of affordable solutions can achieve easy installation despite having no budget for consultants. If a low-cost solution addresses all priority needs, the customer will benefit from a simplified installation and implementation process.

IT should look for easy-to-master customisation for key aspects to ensure they are able to optimise IT services. These customisation areas include application profiles, service definitions, automated actions, and dashboards and reports.

Easy-to-customise application profiles

Application profiles allow IT to specify important information about each application in order to optimise monitoring tasks based on business needs. Affordable APM products should include certified application profiles, while editing the profiles should be intuitive and allow the following tasks:

  • Linking interdependent applications so that any service issues in a related application are reflected in alerts about the primary application
  • Linking all application system dependencies so you can define IT services and easily isolate root causes anywhere in the IT service ecosystem
  • Definition of the priority of the application.

Automated actions

Business goals and budgets demand that IT staff focus on exception handling and strategic projects rather than manually solving preventable and typical problems which can be automated. For this reason, IT will not save money by switching to a less expensive product unless it includes automated actions that are easy to set up, modify, and control.

Dashboards and reports

Unified dashboards are critical to finding and fixing issues rapidly; having useful and customisable dashboards must be a high priority. Reports are valuable for anticipating potential system stresses and planning improvement projects, yet modifying them or creating new reports, even in the highest-priced IT products, is often a painfully complex task.

Some affordable monitoring products offer simplified processes for customising dashboards and reports. Look for packaged reports that can be used ‘out of the box’ and readily adapted to changing needs and diverse audiences. New reports should be easy to create.

Service business within budget

It is not necessary to invest in expensive software licenses and consulting fees to achieve the kind of monitoring environment that helps to meet the seven key challenges. Affordable solutions are available that can address all of the challenges.

Ennio Carboni

Ennio Carboni is the President and GM for the Network & IT Management Division at Ipswitch. Ennio has a passion for building teams and products that deliver exceptional user experience and technical simplicity in solving complex real world, technical problems. He leads all aspects of Ipswitch Network Management Division's strategic direction and day-to-day operations. Ennio previously held a variety of product management and product marketing roles at CA, IMlogic (acquired by Symantec), RSA Security and Novell (through the acquisition of Baranof Software/Tally Systems. He received his BS in criminology and pre-law and his MBA from Northeastern University in Boston.