Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why You Need to Monitor Your Network

Your website is the bloodline of your business. You depend on it to be up, active and healthy. You depend on it to work because if it didn't, neither would your business. And now that your competition is literally a click of the back button away, your customers can and will go some place else if they can't get what they need from your website. In addition to pleasing your client base, if you're selling third-party products, your own products, or even advertisements on your website, proving that you have 99% uptime is a huge selling point. Shouldn't you be doing everything you can to keep that website up and running?

Website downtime caused by network outages cost business about $1.7 billion each year. When you consider how simple it is to prevent outages from happening, you have to wonder why you let it get that high in the first place. So, what are you options?

You could have staff in-house IT 24x7, but that cost can get pretty pricey. You could also do it yourself, but that just puts all of the weight on your shoulders, in addition to the weight of running your actual business. That means you're the one getting those 4 a.m. phone calls from someone saying your website is down, and you're constantly tied to your cellphone or computer to make sure connectivity is happening all day and all night. Bluntly put, it's practically impossible to monitor your own network and run your business at the same time.

Your next best bet is open source and free monitoring tools. (A good list of options can be found here.) These include Monit, Ganglia and Munin but remember: these are just here for aid. Every free tool does provide different functionality, so you'll want to figure out what you actually need it for before making a signing up. And while they can help you through a lot of sticky messes with outages, you do get what you pay for, and with free tools, you're not getting the support you may need.
The most robust option, outside of staffing in-house, is outsourcing your network operations center so you have more free time and man power to focus on actually running your business.

Due to a lack of in-house IT staff who can offer 24×7 service, some small business owners have to shoulder this weight themselves. While monitoring it yourself may seem easier at first glance, it takes a lot of man power. You’ll be tethered to a computer or cell phone, constantly monitoring their business’ networks and connectivity at all hours of the day — and night. There are some open source and freeware server/network monitoring tools that can take some of the weight off, but they’re just there for aid. Six Revisions posted a great list of free tools such as Monit, Ganglia, and Munin that can be used as a starting point for your research. Each provided different functionality, so be sure to find one that offers services based off of your needs.

Still, while these tools are a great aid, you get what you pay for, and the free open-source software monitoring won’t come with the support that an outsourced provider does for you. Outsourcing this responsibility frees up man power that can be directed toward running the business. This service also ensures the business does not suffer from downtime or outages due to server crashes or connectivity problems.

Companies like iGLASS Networks provides NOC services for small business, large coporations, and cable and telecom companies. Its network monitoring services reduce your downtime, intercept bugs, and alert key people in your company before the minor issue becomes a major problem. Outsourced NOC companies monitor basic functionality and DNS blacklisting, SMTP servers, VoIP services, and even available content.

There are a number of different ways you could go to keep your website healthy, so you do need to sit and weigh your pros and cons before making a decision. Still, the most important this is getting something in place so you're not stuck with an offline website during your highest traffic period.

By Erin Everhart

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