The "No Network is 100% Secure" series
- Enterprise Monitoring Basics -
A White Paper

All rights reserved - may not be copied without permission
Easyrider LAN Pro, NOC Design Consultants

Contact Us

Purpose: This White Paper discusses and explores planning, requirements gathering, Vendor selection, product procurement, designs, deployment and support issues involving IT project initiatives that use software commonly referred to as "Enterprise Monitoring Software". This would include, but not be limited to server and network monitoring, job control, asset management, software distribution tools, backup and disastery recovery, trouble ticket systems, performance monitoring and much more.

What is your primary management objective?: Simple question, right? But one that some IT Managers give little deep thought to. Many IT Managers came up through the ranks because of their ability to put out big fires. Others were promoted because they built data centers that were robust and impervious to fires. Some managers are very strong technically and others may have MBAs and look at IT as a business. None of these "types" are good or bad... however, doing what you've been rewarded for in the past will obviously have a strong influence on one's management philosophy moving forward. That is to say that managers who look at IT as a revenue stream that must not be interrupted may well view things differently than the manger who gets an adrenaline boost every time a new fire pops up.

Obviously, the prime objective is to keep the network humming along. I think we would all agree on that. But how is this done? By spending the least possible amount of money using free or "cut rate" products? Or does your company IT focus on buying the best it can afford to obtain enterprise reliability, up time and customer happiness? Does your company look for quick, inexpensive fixes for problems? Or does your company insist on solutions that will permanently solve problems? Does your organization believe that spending money is the solution to all problems? Does price, cost and/or "political" motivations drive IT decision making? Does your IT department operate using a reactive or proactive model? Does IT seek knowledge and assistance from professional consultants with specialized skills to move the organization upwards on the ITSM model? Or does every new problem or initiative become yet another task for an already over worked IT Staff? Please understand that there are no "wrong" answers to any of these questions. But making sensible decisions and plans tend to become clearer when managers fully understand company IT goals, objectives and preferred methodology.

Managing your risks: As you probably know, when you get up into these price ranges, monitoring software vendors are not always meticulously forthcoming when it comes to providing reliable and accurate information. Easyrider LAN Pro happens to be a professional consulting service that does NOT sell software. Easyrider LAN Pro has absolutely no financial stake in product purchase decisions. This makes Easyrider LAN Pro a very strong customer advocate.

Easyrider LAN Pro works for you. The HP, BMC, IBM, CA and so on Vendor and Reseller guys you are talking to do not always have your best interests in mind when they provide you with "information" and "advice". Mostly, what drives them is getting that fat commission and making sales quotas. This should be a given when everyone is sitting around listening to advice on what products would be best to purchase.

As you know, spending huge sums of money on software that turns out to be a disaster can be a very career limiting mistake. This is a big motivation for why smart IT managers engage Easyrider LAN Pro to help design and build their NOC. Our goal is to build a great NOC that will work well for you for many years to come. A NOC that you will be proud of and a NOC that will make your boss and his boss happy. Essentially, our objective is to make our clients VERY happy and to make the Manager who hired us look VERY good. If we fail, you fail. And we are not in business to fail.

Open source, free and nearly free software: With a Home Depot on every corner, America has become a Country of "do it yourself-ers". Fine if all you want to do is fix a leaky faucet. Risky if you're planning on repairing your home's foundation.

"Free" software is worth every penny you paid for it. And bear in mind that the Employee(s) you "volunteered" to investigate, build and support this "free" software aren't working for free. Designing, building and keeping a NOC running is a full time job! If you happen to have an experienced $80+k per year NOC design architect just sitting around doing nothing, then by all means... building a NOC using "free" open source software may work out for you.

Things to consider though... NOCs built using "free" open source software tend to be HIGHLY customized. This means that if the guy who built it leaves the company, dies or moves on to a different assignment, chances are slim that someone else is going to be able to just seamlessly slip in and take over. One of the things you get with expensive vendor software is standardization. Pretty much any experienced Openview guy can take over an Openview environment that was built by someone else. This is definitely not true of "free" products such as Nagios.

Another important consideration regarding "free" software are it's capabilities. It is reasonable to assume that a product that sells for $100+k and is supported by a legion of VARs and Vendor Support folks might have one or two features that "free" open source software lacks. This is at least in part due to the fact that most open source projects are created by talented programmers with too much free time on their hands. These products are almost always developed as Engineering driven initiatives.... creating "cool" stuff versus Marketing driven, profit motivated products that seek to fill specific Customer needs.

We operate our own professional NOC. I have been working with network and server monitoring software for over 30 years so I am not exactly a novice with this technology. I certainly could have saved a lot of money using "free" software. And I did evalute a few of the top performers in the open source area before I went into the Monitoring Service Provider (MSP) business. But even the best of the "free" stuff did not come even close to the kind of monitoring capabilities I needed so I went with professional grade Vendor software instead. In my opinion, there is just no comparison between software like OpenNMS, Nagios and so on as compared to widely used and globally accepted products such as HP Openview Network Node Manager (NNM). And NNM is Openview's entry level product! HP Openview Operations Manager for UNIX (OMU) and BMC Patrol sets the standard by which all other monitoring software products are measured.

"Free" open source software is certainly better than nothing. But if you are serious about moving your IT environment out of level zero of the ITSM model (chaos mode), "free" software is not the way to get there. You should be looking at industry accepted, industrial strength, proactive monitoring products that are easy to use and that integrate into a seamless enterprise solution... not some cobbled together, Mickey Mouse heap of "free" stuff.

Easyrider LAN Pro profile summary:

More NOC design and implementation details can be found here

Easyrider LAN Pro value proposition: We can save you a pile of bucks and help you avoid a lot of pain by guiding your NOC design and deployment process. We will help you make sensible, cost effective, appropriate and realistic software purchase decisions. It's not uncommon for IT Managers to spend tens of thousands of dollars on shelfware software that never gets deployed or is only marginally deployed. We can assure you that our rates are probably a lot less expensive than what your company paid for all of the shelfware you happen to have laying around.

You say you've already purchased software and you need someone to turn it up? We can save you money there as well! Most of the Technicians a VAR will charge you $200 per hour to have on your site know little more than how to install software and do basic configuration work. The last time they built an enterprise class NOC was never. And of course their motivation is going to be to rack up as many billable hours as possible while trying to sell you even more software... most of which you don't need anyway. In contrast, Easyrider LAN Pro has built many NOCs over the past several decades and our motivation is to build you a NOC you are really going to love. And a NOC that your BOSSES are going to love! If we make YOU happy, you are probably going to want us to come back from time to time and developing long term relationships is what Easyrider LAN Pro is all about. VARs just want to sell you software and the chances are, if you happen to need more consulting help, the guy the VAR put on your site for all the money in the world won't even be working there next time you need someone.

Next in the security white paper series:

How Cyber Criminals will mature over the next ten years
Are you vulnerable to drive-by exploits?
High value sites recent hacks
IT employment challenges of the 21st century
Employment reference checking white paper
Competency Certifications White Paper
Firewall White Paper
Virus White Paper
GhostNet White Paper
Password White Paper
Digital Identification Certificates White Paper
Cryptography White Paper
OpenID White Paper
Intrusion Detection Systems IDS White Paper
Rootkit White Paper
Unnecessary Windows XP Services White Paper
Scareware White Paper
Exaflood Internet Brownout White Paper
Cloud Computing White Paper
Proxy Server White Paper
Personal Computer PC Security White Paper
Conficker White Paper
Phishing White Paper
DNS Poisoning White Paper
SPAM White Paper
Best Practices White Paper
Denial of Service DoS White Paper
Trojan Virus Attacks White Paper
Port Scanning White Paper
Monitoring Basics 102 White Paper
Monitoring Basics 103 White Paper
Virtual Machine Security White Paper
Aurora vulnerability White Paper
Shelfware White Paper
Outsourced IT White Paper

Easyrider LAN Pro Consulting services:

Network Security Audit and PC Tune-up service

- Proxy server installation and configuration
- Enterprise security consultations
- Disaster recovery planning
- Disaster recovery services
- Capacity, migration and upgrade planning
- Build and deploy central syslog server
- Build trouble ticket systems
- Design and build monitoring environments
- Design and build Network Operations Centers (NOC)
- HP Openview, BMC Patrol consulting

Last modified March 25, 2009
Copyright 1990-2009 Easyrider LAN Pro