Network Operations Center
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Network Operations Center initiatives: Network Operations Centers and call centers are typically the highest risk and most expensive projects to build next to the data center itself. Your monitoring infrastructure is itself as mission-critical as the equipment it is watching over. Your NOC will monitor and control your companies' most valuable assets and data.

Easyrider LAN Pro has designed and deployed many, many professional grade Network Operations Centers over the past 18 years. In fact, Frank was one of the early pioneers of remote diagnostic technology back in the late 1970's. There are very few companies or Engineers on Planet Earth that have the breadth and depth of NOC design experience that Frank and Easyrider LAN Pro does!

How is Easyrider LAN Pro different?

Easyrider LAN Pro has been in business since 1990... far longer than any other company we know of that does this type of work. Also, unlike most of our competitors, we work with pretty much any monitoring software that's out there. The reasons why this is important to you will be explained shortly.

Why can't I just buy the software and have one of my Admins install it?: This is a fair question and a lot of IT Managers do exactly that.... and come to regret it after the initiative eventually and inevitably falls flat on it's face. As we will explain down the page, purchasing software as a first step is a fundamental gaffe that frequently spells failure for NOC deployment plans. And "volunteering" an overworked Administrator who knows little or nothing about building a NOC to drive this project in order to "save money" nails the coffin shut. Just about every site I have ever been on has had tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of shelfware or marginally deployed monitoring software that was purchased and installed using this less than well planned out model.

So what's the correct approach?: The first step in deploying a successful NOC is to fully understand what the monitoring objectives are. This involves detailed requirements gathering from Managers, Administrators, IT service Customers and other Stakeholders. Once this information has been gathered, a formal or informal design specification proposal is put together that explains what will be monitored, what will happen when abnormal events are detected and other various policies, procedures and so on that will control the operations and best practices of the NOC. Easyrider LAN Pro has decades of experience guiding this discovery process, asking the right questions, negotiating compromises and prioritizing various diverse and sometimes conflicting requirements and needs.

My VAR said that purchasing their software will solve all of our SLA problems!

Well, with all due respect, I have a bridge for sale that you might want to take a look at too. Most VARs and Vendors will try to convince hapless managers that all data center monitoring problems will instantly evaporate by simply purchasing their expensive technology solution. That if a Customer just throws enough money at the problem(s), all of their headaches will go away. Five 9's of availability will magically occur mere seconds after their software is installed and you'll be able to let 90% of your Sys Admins go before the week is out, things will be running so swell. Right....

Easyrider LAN Pro is often approached AFTER a million or more bucks have been spent and for whatever reasons, the customer still has substantial monitoring problems. I don't know how things are at your company, but spending a couple of $million on software that ultimately does not work as expected can often be a career limiting decision for the person who authorized the expenditure.

But won't Easyrider LAN Pro try to sell us software too?: NO! Easyrider LAN Pro is not a software reseller and we have no desire to become one. Easyrider LAN Pro has absolutely no financial stake in any software purchase decisions. We do have relationships with many of the bigger software Vendors that may help you obtain information, demo software, attractive pricing and so on. But we do not even accept free lunches from these guys, much less commissions or kickbacks for our product recommendations. This is a key differentiator between Easyrider LAN Pro and our competition.

Then what is the Easyrider LAN Pro value proposition?: First, we help the client understand their key NOC design requirements. Then we identify which monitoring software products(s) would best meet those requirements. Finally, we install, deploy, configure and customize the monitoring software to meet the previously negotiated design criteria. And lastly, if desired we can train your Monitoring Technicians, document everything and then come back to do remedial maintenance, upgrades and so on from time to time.

So why can't I just buy some software and
install it myself?

As explained earlier, unless you really understand what you want to get out of your NOC, getting lucky and just happening to purchase the right product(s) is pretty iffy. If Easyrider LAN Pro can help you avoid spending a few hundred thousand dollars on software that won't do the job, just that benefit alone will more than pay for any consulting fees we might charge. As we explained earlier, VARs are motivated to sell you only the products that they represent and most Consultants only work with one or two monitoring products. Their motivation is to get you to make purchase decisions that will generate revenue for them. This is good for them and bad for you. At Easyrider LAN Pro, we have a lot of experience with most of what's out there. We know what will work best in your environment and we know what won't. Contrary to what Vendors would like you to think, there is no "holy grail" product out there. We not only know about each product's strengths, we also know about their warts, which Vendor has good support and good product quality and which ones don't. You're going to spend a pile of money on whatever software you purchase. If it was a bad decision, you are going to be stuck with it for years. Easyrider LAN Pro has the experience to make this process much less risky for you! If success is the desired outcome of your NOC deployment project, you definitely want to be talking to us.

Anything else I should know?: Yep, afraid so. Most IT Managers are under the impression (thank's to a lot of spinning by the Sales guys) that all you need to do after you write that $250,000 check is just spin up the CDROM and the monitoring environment will practically build itself. Nothing could be further from the truth. With some products, you will need a herd of Programmers to make this stuff actually do anything. Many of the products out there use proprietary templates, knowledge modules, programming languages and so forth. Even if your Admin does know how to build a NOC, doing all of the programming required to create an effective monitoring environment can be a daunting task. And the Vendor's one or two week training courses, if they even offer any, barely scratch the surface regarding how to build an effective monitoring environment. Most of these products do very little "out of the box" so unless you happen to have someone like Frank on staff, plan on having some very expensive shelfware hanging around not long after your check clears.

I read everything you had to say. Unfortunately, I have already purchased a lot of software from a VAR just as you said, and no one seems to be able to get it to work. Throwing the software away and starting over is not an option. I found you guys on a Google search. Is there any way you can help us get out of this mess?:

YES! This is a common scenario for us. Many of our engagements are to go in and salvage a NOC deployment that someone else botched. Or to turn shelfware into productive software. We cannot turn a sow's ear into a silk purse but we do have a lot of knowledge and experience with most of the stuff that's out there. If you just plain bought the wrong stuff for your needs, we may never be able to completely architect what you purchased into an optimal monitoring environment for your situation. But chances are we can at least get what you bought to run somewhat acceptably. We can also help you create a reasonable and cost effective migration path so that you can eventually wind up with the capabilities that you would have had if you had called us first to begin with.

The key message here is that building a NOC and in particular selecting the correct software to power your NOC is a non-trivial undertaking. We already know where all of the land mines are buried. So unless you enjoy pain in your life, you should at least give us a call.....

Easyrider LAN Pro
Last modified November 19, 2007
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