Week 30, 2017, “Faster, Cheaper, Or Better”

“Technology is only valuable if it results in faster, cheaper, or better. If not, it just sucks up time and money that could be put to better use somewhere else.” – Jeff Haden, INC. Magazine

This quote is timely as we are actively investigating VMWARE’s virtual networking technology NSX.  Remarkably, the technology is capable and connected deeply with our strategic DevOps philosophy.

However, my struggle is NSX’s cost.  Sans discussing the specifics of our pricing, the math roughly equates to $2000 per server for 3 years.

Organizations with a small technology footprint, is NSX valuable enough for faster, cheaper, or better results?

\\ JMM

Week 24, 2017, “Splunk”

“Splunk is an established tool to measure anything in all areas of the business. NOT just IT.  We must consider it as we look at the need for business intelligence measuring across the business.” – Jonathan Merrill @ LANVERA, June 16, 2017

Splunk was born in 2003 being a disrupting tool set for measuring machine data, easily and accessible.  My colleagues ysed to call it the Google of log data.  At first, it’s focus was the easy target, IT.  Today, it’targeting all areas of the business with demos showing sales & marketing measuring, facilities, business operations, even finance.  Indeed, it’s come along way.

Sitting in our product demo, it’s clear this tool has surpassed IT.  Dashboards, reporting, alerting.  How many times this tool could have redefined the war room experience versus the man hours waste of silo’d IT?

My last thought goes to the hundreds of hours spent data gathering for reporting KPI.  Tirelessly pulling manual data from multiple sources for TPS purposes.  This tool could have replaced all those spreadsheets for all those powerpoints in minutes.

The power of BI.

PS.  Yes, I use Splunk.  I dump my Unifi network syslogs into Splunk using the free version.  I track firewall threats geographically and email reports weekly.  Now if I could just figure how to track my kids usage…

\\ JMM

What A Next Generation Network Monitoring Solution Looks Like…

Many vendors tout “Next Generation Monitoring” solution, yet upon looking, looks like what I’ve seen for many years.  Having had a few tough discussions with sales people, the next generation moniker is quickly becoming a sales tag line and nothing really disruptive to the market.  In today’s market, considering DevOps and SDN, tools are far more important today for doing more with less people.

If you’re selling a network monitoring solution and feel your solution is next generation, please read.

Core Requirements

Business Intelligence Driven

  • Meaningful, amazing, action compelling reporting. Most canned reports are lame and don’t add value.  Give IT Managers and System Engineers reports that are incredibly insightful.
  • Create fear… Show people how bad performance of the physical network, Active Directory, Exchange, and SQL environment is… Shock or affirm me.

AI-Driven Discovery, Identification, and Monitoring

  • Manually defining hosts and services is so 1980s… NGNM tools discover what is out there, where it is, and give visibility to what should be monitored.  Unleash the tool and let it do the work.
  • Leverage AI to determine what things are. Manufacturer recognition, SNMP and WMI. Profiling works. Apply the concept here.
  • Leverage the cloud by providing the database centrally. Don’t make me track down SNMP Mibs.
  • Go beyond hosts and MIBs. Monitor IP Addressing (IPAM), Storage platforms, and cloud services.

Business Views, System Views, And 360 Views

  • Include the physical datacenter. 2D/3D model of the datacenter, what’s in the cabinets, etc. Take what is discovered and place it in this vide.
  • System views. Dynamically create core infrastructure views: LAN and WLAN. But also Active Directory, DNS, DHCP, Replication, SQL, SharePoint, etc. Identify unknown servers and services, forcing Engineers to get involved and document what is out there.
  • Business views are good ways to see how systems interoperate, but affect the whole. WAN goes down, this is what it effects. Especially important when LAN meets Cloud services.

Intelligent Configuration Change Management

  • If your scanning anyway, alert on changes to the environment. The tool needs to be able to fire alerts when they see a change from point A to point B.
  • Connect to Change Management systems, like ServiceNow or ServiceDesk.

Workflow Automation

  • Alerts trigger actions.  Open a ticket.  Run a script.  Stop and restart a service.
  • Virtualization automation.  UCS automation.
  • Or offer to plug into MS SCCM or VMWARE Orchestrator.

User Experience (UX)

  • Clean, object based, tablet friendly user interface. Tabbed interfaces are great, if done smartly and intuitively.
  • Use tried and true web UI navigation, such as breadcrumbs. Should take no more than 3 clicks to get to pertinent data.
  • Dashboards and core technology modules should be modular, configurable, and reset-able.
  • Adding URL’s or jump offs by host. NGNM says, “This server is running Splunk and here is the jump off.”

Documentation Repository

  • Documenting systems is a major problem in the majority of IT shops. The NGNM should begin to leverage what it is gathering and offer to put together the documentation.
  • Provisioning documentation and configuration snapshots (Check outhttp://sydiproject.com/ to see a starting point).  NOC should be able to leap off the site to where the docs are.
  • Change Management “changes” should be reflected in documentation.
  • Give me something I can print. PDF preferable. Something I can give auditors.

Education & Community

  • How do people spin up on the NGNM? Wiki is good, but there are better ways to educate and sell value.  For example, YOUTUBE.  Show me how to win.
  • An active community full of ideas, helping each other, examining use cases, and growing the influence based on wins.  Include me into a community of people wanting to win.

\\ JMM