Easyrider LAN Pro
P.O. Box 91216
Portland, Oregon U.S.A. 97291-0216

Monitoring Software and NOC Planning Basics


This 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.


Simple question. But one that many IT Managers give little thought to. Is your objective to keep the network humming along while spending the least possible amount of money? Do you focus on enterprise reliability, up time and customer happiness or is saving money and using free or "cut rate" products your primary driving force? Are you looking for quick fixes for problems? Are you a Manager who believes that spending money is the solution to all problems? Does price, cost and/or "political" motivations drive your decision making? Do you push for solutions that will permanently solve problems? Is your operational model reactive or proactive? Do you seek knowledge and assistance from professional consultants with specialized skills to move your organization upwards on the ITSM model? Or does every new initiative become just another task for your already over worked IT Staff? There is no "wrong" answer to these questions. But in my opinion, making sensible decisions becomes a lot easier once you fully understand what your primary management objectives are.


As you probably know, when you get up into these price ranges, vendors are not always meticulously forthcoming when it comes to providing reliable and accurate information. I happen to be one of a very few in the whole wide world who offers a consulting service who does NOT sell software. I have absolutely no financial stake in the product purchase decision which makes me a very strong customer advocate.

I work for you. The HP, BMC, IBM, CA and so on guys you are talking to do not have your best interests in mind when they provide you with "information" and "advice". All they care about is getting that fat commission. This is a given.

As you know, spending this kind 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 me.


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. Keeping a NOC running is a full time job! If you happen to have an experienced $80+k per year UNIX Engineer 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.

I operate my own professional NOC. I have been working with network and server monitoring software for the past 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 (OVO), and to a somewhat lesser degree, 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.


Home-based in Portland, Oregon but I will go anywhere, any time, to design and build your HP Openview, BMC Patrol, IBM Tivoli, CA Computer Associates Unicenter, Micromuse, Microsoft MOM, SunNet Manager, Optivity, etc. Network Operations Center (NOC). More NOC design and implementation details can be found here. Now that you've found me, why not bookmark this page or e-mail me right away!


I can save you a pile of bucks and help you avoid a lot of pain by guiding you towards making sensible, appropriate and realistic software purchase decisions. It's not uncommon for IT Managers to spend tens of thousands of dollars on software that never gets deployed or is only marginally deployed. I can assure you that my 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? I 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, I've built many, many NOCs over the past several decades and my motivation is to build you a NOC you are really going to love. And a NOC that your BOSSES are going to love! If I make YOU happy, you are probably going to want me to come back from time to time and developing long term relationships are what I am 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.


Over 40 years of computer, networking, electronics and broadcast radio experience.  Extensive exposure to customers in a field engineering and IT environment.  Solid, proven project management background as well as headcount and P&L management experience.  Heavily traveled worldwide to resolve technical problems and customer issues. 

My most recent work has been in a network and systems engineering capacity, designing, implementing and managing Remote Management Systems and Network Operations Centers (NOC). I have over 30 years of experience managing UNIX (Sun Solaris, Linux, IBM AIX, HP-UX, etc.) servers and networking infrastructure in a high availability, production environment.

I was born with a soldering iron in my hand..... My systems support experience pre-dates the creation of the full screen editor, Microsoft Corporation, Windows and DOS as well as the invention of the microprocessor..... and the disk drive, just to name a few.

My UNIX experience pre-dates the creation of Sun Microsystems.

My networking experience predates the founding of Cisco Systems, the creation of the DARPA Internet, web browsers, DNS, bridges, routers, ethernet, the 1200 baud modem and most of the common capabilities that we take for granted today.


Created the concept of Monitoring Service Provider (MSP) and the business model of outsourced IT service availability monitoring utilizing a cost center NOC that I designed and turned into a highly profitable revenue center.

Designed and implemented some of the early SNMP remote management systems used on the West Coast.  Attained Developer Architect level skills with SunNet Manager, Sun Solstice Enterprise Manager, IBM Tivoli Netview for RS6000, Bay Networks Optivity, HP Openview Operations, Openview NNM Network Node Manager, Network General Distributed Sniffers, Network General SLM, Microsoft MOM and SMS and more.  Have designed, implemented and managed many carrier enterprise class 7x24x365 Remote management facilities and Network Operations Centers in high performance SLA environments.

Developed, prototyped and implemented remote diagnostic troubleshooting capabilities for Digital Equipment Corporation (D.E.C.) PDP-11 and VAX VMS customers (including satisfying security issues for DOD/DOE) in the late 1970's, before the technology was proven or popular.