Should You Ever Rely on Hardware Vendor Monitoring Tools?
When deciding whether to use a hardware vendor’s performance monitoring tool or a dedicated performance monitoring platform, consider this – it’s not an either/or question. It’s more about discerning how performance plays into your overall monitoring strategy.
A dedicated performance monitoring platform is intrinsically different from a hardware vendor’s monitoring tools. Here are some important distinctions you may want to consider if you plan on deploying either.
- Focus – Hardware vendors are accustomed to monitoring their own networks and infrastructures, and rarely stray from this very function. Remember, monitoring tools are not the main business function of the hardware vendor. These tools may lack the depth and breadth to monitor your infrastructure with precision. If a new device is added to your environment, how quickly will the hardware vendor add support into their performance monitoring products? Dedicated performance monitoring platforms have programs available to add certified support of new SNMP-based devices and log formats within 10 business days. In addition, with the advent of Software-Defined Networking (SDN), I believe we’re going to see a shift in vendor focus within the FCAPS model. Automating the configuration of networks and network services by SDN controllers is a complicated engineering and test effort. The "C" of FCAPS is now front and center with SDN. I would not be surprised to see hardware vendors re-direct resources towards their configuration and automation systems with less attention given to their performance monitoring systems.
- Single vendor vs. multi-vendor infrastructures – In a multi-vendor environment, hardware vendor monitoring tools may not complete the task at hand. If you’re monitoring across various equipment from the likes of Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, Juniper, and F5 – and you’re trying to draw a level of commonality – you’ll want a dedicated performance monitoring platform to collect, normalize, integrate and analyze all data. Depending on your deployment, you may rely on a hardware vendor’s monitoring tools or EMS to provision the vendor hardware. Dedicated performance monitoring systems can be configured to gather performance data directly from various EMSs, providing a unified performance view of your multi-vendor infrastructure.
- Consistency of data and analysis – If you rely solely on vendor tools to monitor a multi-vendor environment, you may run into trouble when correlating events. Perhaps one tool collects data every five minutes, but another tool polls data every two minutes. Vendors may also limit how long they maintain your performance data. Or they may discard raw data in favor of daily, weekly or monthly averages. It’s very difficult to do capacity planning with multiple tools polling and storing data at different rates. Seek out a dedicated performance monitoring platform that can collect disparate metrics from each EMS or vendor platform and present that data in a single graph.
- Collecting metrics vs. collecting metrics, flows and logs – If a hardware vendor is only collecting metrics – or metrics and flows – you are only seeing a piece of the performance picture. A monitoring platform that integrates metrics, flows and logs provides a more complete story when something abnormal happens in your environment. Say you’re monitoring a router and you see a drop in your WAN link traffic. With a dedicated performance monitoring platform, you’ll get an alert. Then, you can pivot to the log data to find out why there is a degradation of service. Maybe the router configuration was changed. But in addition to finding out why something happened, you can find flow data that explains who was affected by this change – was it one group of customers in a specific geographic location or was the entire organization affected? By monitoring metrics, flows and logs from a single dedicated performance monitoring platform, you can quickly and accurately troubleshoot these issues.
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