I've been doing network engineering ever since I was knee high to a grasshopper and I'm still just as guilty as the next guy - when I see a problem the first thing I do is blame the network. Case in point, I was hosting a webcast for some of our partners today and during the presentation the demo server that I was using suddenly started timing out. My first thought - we have a performance issue on the network. Before I could stop myself I'm reviewing NetFlow statistics, running TraceRoute utilities, and trying to figure out where the bottleneck was occurring....

Actual problem - one of the applications that the demo server uses crashed and needed to be restarted. Sure, our IT departments Orion and ipMonitor servers caught this and stared sending out alerts , but I was using the application at the instant that it crashed so I was literally the first to know.

My point here is that if you don't have a good set of network management tools in place to tell you where to place the blame when issues like this occur you're asking for trouble. When the boss's secretary starts blaming you for the fact his e-mail is slow or the new exec is complaining because her favorite YouTube videos are all jittery, you need to have a better answer than "it probably isn't the network." A few years ago there were a lot of pretty good excuses for flying blind and going without network management:

  • The solutions available were way too complicated to setup and maintain
  • The products dominating the market were incredibly overpriced
  • The "leading" vendors in space didn't really understand your perspective as a network engineer

Fortunately, the landscape has changed and these things are no longer true. Sure, the old-style products from the old-school vendors still exist but there's a lot of really cool new stuff out there from people that actually understand what you're going through.

Flame on...

p.s. In case it wasn't crazy obvious, we're one of the companies offering this new-breed of network management products. Download them yourself at http://www.solarwinds.com