A finely-tuned NMS is at the heart of a well-run network. But it’s easy for an NMS to fall into disuse. Sometimes that can happen slowly, without you realizing. You need to keep re-evaluating things, to make sure that the NMS is still delivering.
Consultants like me move around different customers. When you go back to a customer site after a few weeks/months, you can see step changes in behavior. This usually makes it obvious if people are using the system or not.
If you're working on the same network for a long time, you can get too close to it. If behaviors change slowly over time, it can be difficult to detect. If you use the NMS every day, you know how to get what you want out of it. You think it's great. But casual users might struggle to drive it. If that happens, they'll stop using it.
If you're not paying attention, you might find that usage is declining, and you don't realize until it’s too late. You need to periodically take an honest look at wider usage, and see if you're seeing any of the signs of an unloved NMS.
Signs of an unloved NMS
Here’s some of the signs of an unloved NMS. Keep an eye out for these:
- Too many unacknowledged alarms
- No-one has the NMS screen running on their PC - they only login when they have to
- New devices not added
What if things aren't all rosy?
So what if you've figured out that maybe your NMS isn't as loved as you thought. What now? First don't panic. It's recoverable. Things you can do include:
- Talk. Talk to everyone. Find out what they like, and what’s not working. It might just be a training issue, or it might be something more. Maybe you just need to show them how to set up their homepage to highlight key info.
- Check your version. Some products are evolving quickly. Stay current, and take advantage of the new features coming out. This is especially important with usability enhancements.
- Check your coverage: Are you missing devices? Are you monitoring all the key elements on those devices? Keep an ear to the ground for big faults and outages: Is there any way your NMS could have helped to identify the problem earlier? If people think that the NMS has gaps in its coverage, they won't trust it.
All NMS platforms have a risk of becoming shelfware. Have you taken a good honest look recently to make sure yours is still working for you? What other signs do you look for to check if it's loved/loathed/ignored? What do you do if you think it might be heading in the wrong direction?