Friday, October 19, 2012

Going beyond monitoring for true network management

Uplogix founder and CTO James Dollar was recent interviewed for a story in Via Satellite magazine on the state of network management in the satellite network world. Having been in the room during the phone interview, it was interesting to hear Dollar put Uplogix into the context of other solutions the reporter was including in the story.

Dollar said that network monitoring provides a display of the network and a historical record of what has happened, but network management also means that you can take actions. "We take in data and execute tasks, as a live person would," he said.

This key difference is critical to the Uplogix value proposition. Local Management is like the first-level support technician that would be sent out in a truck (or often in satellite networks, a helicopter), to identify root cause of issues and take run book steps to get things back to a working order. These relatively simple problems and solutions are key drivers of support costs. Being able to automate the monitoring and recovery from these issues can have a big impact.

From the article:
"The oil and gas sector is a great example of how network management systems cut costs," says Dollar. "The average cost for an oil and gas company to send someone out to fix a piece of networking gear is around $5,000. They have to find a helicopter and a guy with the right visa and bring them together. Generally that takes more than eight hours to accomplish. They also have to combine that with their cost of downtime. You can double that $5,000 cost when it comes to fixing the same problems in the military satcom sector. And that includes putting a human in harm's way, which adds protecting personnel to the list of things that the operator needs to do. There are also dangers present in the enterprise sector. Think about being responsible for sending a technician out to the middle of the North Sea in January to resolve a problem with a router or an RF amplifier. These are situations where our solutions play a strong role. We not only reduce the operational expenses, but we increase the network's uptime."
The combination of persistent monitoring at frequent intervals and the ability to take actions to remediate issues with networking and VSAT communications gear is a strength of local management. While these examples were from the satellite world, their problems are really not all that different from typical enterprise networking in civilization -- the "office" is usually just more remote.