Service Availability Monitoring

How important is it to your company?


The old model:  Your e-mail software goes down at 8 PM but no one notices because your Administrators and Employees have already gone home.  The hardware (server) never went down but your E-mail service remains broken when Employees start showing up for work the next day.  No one can retrieve or send E-mail so your mail Administrator arrives to work facing a panic situation.  What is the cost to your company for lost productivity and your employees reduced quality of life?  For a 400 employee company, the cost for just lost productivity is over $5,000 for one 30 minute outage a month.  When you consider how much your company depends on e-mail, internet access, file servers, applications servers and so on, the costs of even brief service availability outages can be staggering.

Or how about that vital applications or file server that hosts your sales contact or critical office applications software?  The server is still running but no one can connect.  How many times have you heard, "I can't get to the Internet!" or "is the network down?".  Or my favorite:  "I can't get on pick_your_favorote_application".

And what about performance?  Everything is running but it's "slow".  How slow is "too slow"?  And then there's security.  Virus attacks, hackers trying to break into your systems, denial of service attempts... wouldn't you sleep better knowing that there is a big Cop guarding the entrance to your network?

Perception is everything.  Meeting your SLA or having 5 9's of hardware uptime is meaningless if your Users "feel" that the network performs poorly.

Revenue Protection:  All of the monitoring rationale mentioned above addresses "inconveniences" and intangible Employee loss of productivity costs.  But what if the server you need monitored is directly responsible for generating revenue?  What if that server being down or performing poorly directly effects your company bottom line?  If this is true, you need to be talking to us.  Using "better than nothing" monitoring tools to protect your company's revenue stream just isn't going to get it!

Reactive monitoring: Our Network Operations Center (NOC) sees failures as soon as they occur.  Someone could have been called and the failure corrected before the next day's business, thus avoiding the service interruption.  In many cases, the service can be restored remotely thus avoiding the need to call anyone at home to correct the problem.

Proactive monitoring: Our NOC baselines your equipment and becomes familiar with each machine's unique characteristics.  Any deviation from the norm triggers further investigation, many times exposing a problem that can be corrected long before it results in an outage.

Detect and correct: Our NOC can correct problems that it discovers, in many cases.  Using procedures that are mutually developed as part of our turn-up process with you, we can automate many fault verification and service recovery mechanisms.  Often, these procedures can be implemented as "foolproof" electronic pushbuttons that perform Administrative privileged operations in a safe, secure and predictable manner.

Detect and escalate: In some cases (e.g. a non-redundant hardware failure) it will not be possible to remotely restore service.  In these cases, our NOC will verify that the failure is indeed real and will then report the failure per the notification instructions that you provide.  Since all problems are not created equal, we will notify you of just critical issues, or just critical and major issues at certain times of the day or we will notify you of all failures regardless of severity 7/24.  You, the Customer, decides the severity level(s) that you want to hear about and the Administrators and times that want to be called.

Service availability verification:  Think your equipment may be having problems but aren't sure?  You may call our NOC 7/24/365 and they will run a few quick checks to verify that everything is ok.... or you may be told that they are currently investigating a service availability issue and are in the process of resolution efforts.  You can also call the NOC to let them know that you will be doing maintenance on a particular piece of equipment and do not want to be called about outages.  After the maintenance has been completed, you can call the NOC again to verify that everything came back ok.

We work in partnership with your Administrators:  A common customer objection to outsourcing equipment monitoring involves concerns about "loss of control" or reduced job security.  The fact is, having us doing your monitoring does not threaten anyone's job.  What we do is reduce or eliminate the 3 am phone calls to your over-worked Administrators.  Our monitoring allows them to spend less time fixing the ten-thousandth failure of such_and_such a service and more time doing the kind of higher end productive engineering work that they enjoy.  Our Techs typically do not have (and do not want) root shell access into your equipment.  All verification and service restart scripts are simple blocks of code that any competent Administrator can easily develop.  They are implemented in our NOC as electronic pushbuttons.  Completely safe, predictable and repeatable, regardless of the skill level of the Tech who happens to be on duty.  When your Administrators start coming to work not having to worry about dealing with the latest overnight disaster, they quickly become big fans of the NOC. After over 30 years in the computer support industry, you can take it from me:  there will still be plenty for your Administrators to do even with NOC monitoring in place.

Build vs. buy:  Sure, it would be great if you could just build your own NOC to solve these problems.  But how many companies have $200,000 to get something like a NOC off the ground, especially in this bad economy?  And the annual cost to keep a NOC going can be staggering: easily in excess of $300k.  Building your own NOC involves a substantial capital expense initially and a sustained financial and operational commitment thereafter.  And lots of headaches.

We've already solved those problems.  Let us solve them for you!

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Last modified on January 16, 2003
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