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We attempted to implement a large-scale system and network monitoring package
from a major vendor but found the product was never fully implemented or adopted
by the users because of its overbearing complexity. We then quickly implemented
an inexpensive, low-end package that provided basic monitoring - but lacked much
of the deeper functionality our organization required, such as performance and
We knew we had to take a completely new approach. We decided to develop a set
of best practices to ensure that new investments in system and network monitoring
would be successful.
At the core of these best practices are two themes - simplicity and cost-effectiveness
HMSA's core best practices rest on five elements:
- Data center monitoring technology should be Web-based. Web-based technology
simplifies rolling out the system, because no client-side application must be
installed and upgraded. In addition, administrators can work from any location.
Web-based user interfaces are also typically easy to learn, easing adoption and
lowering training costs.
- Monitoring technology should be standards-based. HMSA chose to adhere to industry
standards such as Simple Network Monitoring Protocol (SNMP) in order to simplify
setup and installation and to avoid getting locked into one vendor's solution.
Because SNMP is supported by almost all hardware and software vendors, monitoring
a heterogeneous environment composed of many products is greatly simplified.
- Monitoring technology should be automation driven rather than consulting or
manpower intensive. Expending costly and valuable IT resources on long-term enterprise
software projects has proven risky and expensive
- Data center operations should be viewed as a business process. IT departments
tend to look at monitoring technology as something that displays trending graphs
and sends alarms when there are network problems.
- Monitoring technology with simple license terms is preferable to products with
many add-on or hidden modules. To control the costs of a monitoring implementation,
a company needs visibility of up to five or 10 years of ongoing maintenance costs.
Many enterprise software vendors' products are composed of many modules and components
that have separate pricing models and require different training and support.
HMSA believes that products with a number of components tend to be more expensive
and complex to maintain over time.
We evaluated more than 15 vendors against these best practices and found that
CITTIO's WatchTower monitoring platform was
the closest fit. Equipped with WatchTower and our strong best practice approach,
we successfully deployed enterprise-class system and network monitoring on 500
servers and network devices in a timely and cost-effective manner. Moreover, we
are gaining the complete system control and network visibility our large, complex
Rod Fukanaga Is the Systems Analyst For Blue Cross Of Hawaii.