In virtually every office in every city around the world, employees who have trouble accessing their email, or who can't reach a website, or who get stuck trying to download a file have been known to call the IT department and utter those four dreaded words, "The network is down."
This isn't a diagnosis so much as a plea to fix the problem so work can go on. If the issue is network-related, there's no one switch to flip like a circuit breaker on a fuse box. The problem could be local, or it could be in a link further down the network line. It could have to do with traffic congestion, it could be slow DNS response, or it could be a software update wreaking havoc with normal operations.
More importantly, however, the performance problem often isn't the network at all, but another error in the system unrelated to network connectivity. We know the burden of proof is on the Network Operations teams, and you need accurate data in real-time to show that the network has done its job. At SevOne we like to call that “Mean Time to Innocence.”
Case in Point
One of our hospital customers recently called in SevOne for a problem with its IP telephony system. The hospital assumed the issue was with the IP connection, but in reality, it was the local PBX that was down. By polling the network, we were able to show that the connection was still live and prove that the problem originated elsewhere. We weren't monitoring the hospital's PBX at the time, but we could at least eliminate the network as a possible failure point.
A performance management system is valuable because of the real-time visibility it provides. You may need to monitor your network or data center on a constant basis, or you may need access to performance information primarily when there's a problem to solve. In either case, you need to be able to trust the information that you receive. In our customer's situation, the information we provided offered proof; proof that sometimes it's not the network's fault at all.
Vess Bakalov is Chief Technology Officer for SevOne.