Opportunity NOCs

By Dave Kearns

A company's Network Operations Center (NOC), the nerve center of most global computer systems, is instantly recognizable because it usually looks exactly like the ones you see in the movies or on television: walls of monitors, operators at keyboards watching flashing lights on LED panels or monitoring on-screen dials. Everyone poised to leap into action at the first sign of trouble on the network.

 Do you know what it costs to maintain a NOC 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year? You probably have a good idea - one of the reasons you don't have a NOC. Consider payroll alone, for a small three person NOC. There are 8760 hours in a year. For a three person NOC, you need to schedule 26280 hours. The normal person works 2000 hours per year. 26280 divided by 2000 equals 13+. That's 13 full time people. At an average of $40K/year (quite low, actually) that's over $500,000 per year in direct salary. Plus the cost of benefits. Plus all that flashing hardware. And all the monitoring software. Its no wonder only major multi-national corporations can afford a well-staffed NOC.

Balance this, though, with your company's cost when the network is down. While estimates can range from as little as $1,000 up thru millions of dollars per hour, most enterprises fall in the $10,000 to $100,000 per hour range. And let's say your network is reliable: its up 99.99% of the time - pretty good, right? Well, that's 26 hours of downtime per year (26280 hours * .001) or $260,000 to $2.6 million in loses for the company. Scary, isn't it?

Fortunately, there's a way to get the benefit of a full-time, fully-staffed NOC without having to shell out a few million (or even a few hundred thousand) per year.

For less than the cost of three hours of downtime, iLAN Systems (http://www.ilan.com/) will be your NOC. Using sophisticated monitoring tools iLAN continuously checks the health of your network. Should real problems arise, iLAN technicians can respond immediately - 24 hours a day - using sophisticated tools like the Network General Sniffer, Fluke LANmeter and others to troubleshoot all seven layers of your network.

 NetEQuality Network Baselining is iLAN's name for this service which gives you peace of mind, better network uptime and saves your company money from day one. Among the benefits NetEQuality brings to your network are:

  • It frees on-site staff from responding to network alarms that are spurious or non-critical, allowing them to focus only on critical problems.

  • It facilitates faster network problem resolution by providing early warning of network problems through extensive baseline and alarm technology.

  • It gives management visibility of network performance through reports of network and application performance against baselines and service level agreement.

  • It differentiates network, server and application bottlenecks, measures the network from multiple locations and develops baselines of network, server and application performance.

Now, its true you can set up monitoring software yourself. You can have it notify you (via email, pager or even telephone) whenever there's a problem. But if you've ever set up something like this, you know that the amount of false alarms (when a bit of network congestion, for example, leads to a momentary delay in processing packets) often leads to either ignoring serious problems or re-setting thresholds so high that potential problems are overlooked. Either way, your network suffers. iLAN will also notify you by email, pager or phone - but only after investigating to be sure there is a real problem. For example, if a timeout occurs because of a momentary congestion problem, iLAN's technicians will immediately intensify monitoring that segment of the network. If the congestion quickly clears, then no alert is sent but if it continues its evaluated for current or future potential to bring down your network and the appropriate alert or report is sent. You're only told about real problems.

By constantly monitoring and comparing to baselines, iLAN's NetEQuality can quickly point out deteriorating measurements indicating imminent failure in some part of your network. The service will also tell you what needs to be done to correct the situation. If necessary, iLAN's technicians can come on-site to further refine their diagnosis of the potential failure.

NetEQuality's daily, weekly and monthly reports are provided in easy to manipulate formats (such as Microsoft Excel) allowing you to customize charts and graphs to show your upper management both how good a job you're doing as well as to justify expenses necessary to maintain the healthy well-being of the net.

Unlike simple, off-the-shelf monitoring software, NetEQuality can pinpoint exactly where current failures are occurring - on the wire, on the server or in the application. Sophisticated multi-targeted probes, under the guidance of iLAN's trained technicians quickly isolate potential problems before they grow into crippling outages.

Now I don't expect you to take my word for all of this. I'd like you to, but I don't expect it. Instead, I urge you to view the iLAN NetEQuality Network Baseline tutorial, available on-liner at http://www.ilan.com/demo/ BUT, I urge you to view the tutorial with one of iLAN's trained guides demonstrating its parts to you. You don't need to travel to southern California or have some salesman visit your office to do this. Call Sales at 1.626.304.9021 x240 and setup an appointment to view the tutorial across the Internet. As the late night TV ads say, there is no obligation and no salesman will visit you. But you will get to see, in a 30 - 60 minute session (or longer if you want), all of the possibilities of NetEQuality Network Baseline. Most importantly, you'll be able to decide if this program can help you and your company. I think it can help, and I think you'll agree with me.