Find out why network monitoring is so important for IBM i managers.
A professional athlete must consider several factors in order to deliver his best performance. The food he eats, the way he physically trains and mentally prepares, as well as his strategy and technique all play a part in deriving the best result. Imagine that athlete was completely prepared when he started the race of his life, having attended to all these things, only to have his performance ruined when he was struck by lightning. Unfortunate, some would say, but that's life.
IT managers are not in the business of luck. They need to prepare for every disaster scenario, every contingency, and ensure that—even when every job and process is running 100% perfectly on the system—some unforeseen network element doesn't pop up and ruin all their efforts just because it resides outside the parameters of IBM i.
After all, in a situation like this, people only remember the one thing that went wrong, not the millions of things that went right. It's unfortunate, but that's life.
While no one can be aware of every potential problem that may or may not impact the system, IT managers can reduce the incidence and impact of any potential problem in two ways:
- Raise their awareness of the boundaries of their systems within the network and identify the areas of overlap where potential problems may occur.
- Extend the proactive approach to systems management that keeps all their own elements running well to these overlap areas. This helps their team protect the system from unforeseen problems and deal with problems promptly and effectively when they do occur.
It's Not Your Fault, Just Your Problem
Frustrated users experiencing delays have no way to pinpoint the issue, so any lag in productivity is initially deemed an issue for operators to resolve. In the case where these may actually be network issues, a bitter blame game can ensue, with both operations and network teams pitted against one another as they each dig up proof that the problem is not their responsibility.
While this lengthy elimination process is going on, the users are still waiting and productivity and profitability still suffers. For operators, it may not be your fault that the IOPs were incorrectly configured by an engineer, or that a user sent a huge file that had a knock-on effect on the network traffic, or that the TCP/IP ping fell over and severed data communications between users and the server. None of it may be your fault, but with immediate visibility to these issues, solving these types of problems becomes a fast and pain-free experience.
Calculating the Cost
Without sophisticated tracing tools to accurately pinpoint common network issues that could be impacting user productivity, it's very difficult to know where to start looking when trying to identify potential causes.
What's more, as these issues have the potential to be either system or network related, quite often members from both teams are involved in determining the root cause, effectively monopolizing the time and resources of twice as many people. The costs of this type of system/network detective work can quickly add up to significant sums.
Often, these issues fall into two major categories, which should be primary considerations for anyone considering this type of network monitoring:
• Network bottlenecks and errors
• IOP utilization
Company X is a large retail operation that was struggling with network issues that were not immediately visible on their centrally managed IBM i network. The network supports 10,500 users nationwide, and the company generates $2.1 billion in revenue annually. The IT manager and network manager found they were wrestling with the same issues and decided to review the financial impact over the past 12 months.
The cost-impact results of the review were far higher than they anticipated, primarily due to delays and the associated cost of the time spent to identify the issue. The team was also acutely aware of the (as yet) unquantifiable fiscal damage to the brand reputation and loss of customer loyalty.
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