Keeping It Simple – The 3 ‘S’ Rule

simplestablescalable

I was talking to a new network manager the other day. He was picking my brain for ideas on how best to manage his small network. He is a staff of one and therefore must be everywhere all the time. We have all been there at some point in our careers so I wanted to give him some help to calm his fears of being overwhelmed.

When I first started in IT, I was schmoozed by many a vendor. What did I care at the time? I did not know better and this was a time when everyone was beating down my door. Aahhh the good ole days….

One of the first tools I needed was tool to monitor my core/edge and server heart beat.  Many vendors came in and I paid a lot for various software and hardware packages to do the job. I won’t name names but after the first three or four months the various solutions I purchased seem to fail, break or go berserk. Of course the vendor was nowhere to be found or blamed my environment. My CFO was not happy with me. Lesson learned. Don’t be swayed by salespeople.

I found a product by chance because I was tired of coming in on the weekends for false alarms and outages. The product was WhatsUp Gold by Ipswitch (http://www.whatsupgold.com/). I started using this at version 2 and now they are up to version 12.4 at the time of this post. 

What attracted me to Ipswitch was its simplicity. You can perform a simple heartbeat with very little traffic congestion being generated. You can have it email you when equipment goes down. And you can have reports generated on the health of your network. There is an annual service agreement based on the number of devices being monitored which gives you phone support and updates. It is far cheaper than what other products cost. Whats’Up has a very small footprint. Once up and running it required very little care and feeding. And is this not what we all want.

What’sUp saved me many times. As my department grew we expanded monitoring for each group so they would be able to monitor their equipment accordingly. As a manager I was able to get a snapshot of my entire environment to show how healthy the environment was doing. 100% uptime is a great number to throw around to corporate management.

So what lesson did I learn from all this and what lesson should new IT managers follow – Keep It Simple. Bells and whistles are great but too much of a good thing is not. Any new product should follow the 3 ‘S’ rule – Simple, Stable and Scalable.

Once you follow this you will be a happier IT person. Good Luck

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