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Network Monitoring, the Value Behind the Numbers
By Andrew Timms, Sales Director for APAC, Paessler AG
Australia’s IT focus has changed due to the digital revolution and IT departments are now increasingly tasked with keeping up with transformational changes. Like never before, each activity needs to be justified in its return on investment (ROI) and how it relates to ensuring the business stays ahead of its competitors.
Whether you are considering implementing network monitoring, or currently have a system in place, you may be asked to define its value from time to time. When looking at determining its value for enterprise networks and data centres, you need to consider several factors – upfront and ongoing cost of the software, and its value over time. The first response is naturally to look at the data;however, there are many soft factors to consider that can be more subjective and difficult to quantify. Therefore, while data is helpful, there’s no simple way to quantify the ROI for network monitoring. Instead, businesses should review the benefits to glean a broader, more complete picture.
The Reality and Detrimental Cost of Downtime
There is tremendous value in determining the ROI of network monitoring – from assessing hard costs which include things like licensing, hardwareand maintenance costs, to soft costs such as salary and benefits for the IT staff.
“According to a report by EMC, in 2014 network down time cost organisations in Asia Pacific and Japan an estimated US$34 billion, with Australian businesses alone contributing US$5.7 billion.”
One of the most significant and painful factors is no doubt the cost of network downtime and failures. It is important to consider the damage and costs that will occur if a mail server or an e-commerce site crashes, or how much it will cost the company if its network goes down for even two hours. Yet, it is virtually impossible to give an exact number – an outage at an online retailer during the holiday seasons is substantially more damaging than an outage on a Friday afternoon in August. Nevertheless, industry experts have made estimates that convey the harsh truth – downtime can incur staggering costs.
According to a report by EMC, in 2014 network downtime cost organisations in Asia Pacific and Japanan estimated US$34 billion, with Australian businesses alone contributingUS$5.7 billion. During the course of one year, over 60 percent of companies in Australia experience either data loss or downtime, with the average business experiencing more than three working days of downtime. These disruptions led to a 54 percent reduction in employee productivity, while revenue took a 44 percent hit.
Don’t Forget the Soft Costs
The cost of downtime can be significant, but there are more factors to look at to determine the true value of network monitoring. Quantifying soft costs is a near impossible task. For instance, if a website becomes unavailable, depending on the website and how it is used, it can have different impacts and costs. For web-based or online-only companies, it may be more concrete and measurable, as it’s their only channel for generating revenue. For a branding or image-focused website, there is lost marketing value or brand damage that could result from an outage. These things are hard to estimate, but the impact can be detrimental and long lasting.
On the flipside, internal soft costs can also have negativeimpact onemployee productivity and morale.An early-morning email server outage on a Friday may cost an entire workday, while poor network performance during the workday creates additional frustration for employees, lowering morale and, in some cases, making them look for new opportunities. It may seem rash, but if an employee can’t get their job done because of network freezesor crashes, they are not going to be happy.
Forget the Instant and Look to the Long-Term
While costs and failures are important, looking to the long-term, strategic benefits of network monitoring in the enterprise is also key.
Firstly, by reducing the workload of IT staff and making them more efficient is beneficial. When troubleshooting a network issue, most of the time is spent trying to find where the problem is versus actually fixing the problem. The automation and intelligence of network monitoring tools enables IT staff to spend less time searching for the source of small outages. If an IT administrator spent an average of four hours a week looking for small outages, which amounts to 10 percent of their work time, which means 10 percent of their annual salary too!
Along withtime savings and efficiency of IT teams, there is the added benefit of long-term IT optimization. By reducing the time spent on routine problems, IT teams can now spend more time onstrategic projects that can make a positive impact on the business. At the same time, IT staff maybe more satisfied with their work when they are spending less time on routine troubleshooting and more time on strategic projects. In turn, this satisfaction may lead to better employee retention and talent attraction.
Lastly, network monitoring also allows you to compile long-term data to analyze how and where hardware and bandwidth resources are being utilized. For example, rather than having a server running at 10 percent of capacity, you may be able to virtualize it to use more of its available capacity and get better utilization.
Ultimately, while numbers can be impressive, you need to look beyond thatand factor in your own experience with outagesthat could have been prevented. This will helpdevelop acomplete picture of the benefits of network monitoring.