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    Improve Your NOC Operation With This One Managed IT Service.

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Fri, Nov 28,2014 @ 11:17 AM

    By most conservative estimates, 85% of the alerts being generated by your various monitoring solutions are noise. "Noise" is a term IT operators use to describe the flood of alerts that fill up email boxes, which don't require any action. To compound the problem, operators can't be certain which of the landslide of alerts need attention and which ones do not.

    The problem is that every system, device and application in the environment is alerting you to something. Constantly. And because technology is multiplying by the day and data is becoming cheaper to provide, alerting is getting out of hand. So many alerts that it can easily reach 10,000 per week in a standard mid-enterprise environment. And there are some reading this who would love such a small number.



    Alert Filtering

    How are you handling noise?


    Safe to say if you go into any IT operations group and ask about the policy for looking at and/or responding to alerts, you'll get a mixture of answers. Often accompanied with an occasional chuckle, which to me means someone thinks the procedure could be better. The point is, they're a pain to keep up with and cause a lot of lost time opening and reading alerts that require little, if any attention.

    There's nothing like a human.

    A solution we implement for our clients is a combination of Vistara, a SaaS IT operations platform and NetEnrich. NetEnrich is essentially IT operations as a service. This 1-2 punch combines technology and human intervention that in a typical scenario turns tens of thousands of alerts into just a handful of service tickets. 

    With thousands of customers' systems and networks being monitored, knowing which alerts need attention is a source of NetEnrich's success. NetEnrich, is a 300-400 person engineering company with HQ in San Jose and operations in Hyderabad, India has been perfecting the use of its star IP, Vistara (Vistarait.com) for at least 10 years. Vistara can be one of two things: 1.) the actual monitoring tool 2.) collector/aggregator of alerts generated by other monitoring tools. Or, both. With Vistara, all devices in your environment are visible regardless of their physical location. Vistara is an up-to-date IT operations tool that sees all. Now event correlation can be handled in one place.

    The beauty of the combination is this, for about the cost of a good new monitoring solution, you can also get humans to keep watch over it. Alerts are forwarded via email OR thru API integration with your ITSM, tickets are generated by NetEnrich directly into your service portal. You can add services or subtract them as time goes on. For a few bucks more you can add support like OS patching, automated run-book or even full management of an environment, including trouble-shooting, RCA and OEM vendor management. See "Scalable Workforce."

    It gets better.

    Most NOC operations are staffed by the least number of people needed to cover 24x7x365. Recruiting and keeping people who want to do this work can be challenging, particularly if you need people with skills. You might have the right number of people but not the right skill sets to keep up. When you use a share services, remote model like NetEnrich, you have dozens of people at any hour of the day with a deep understanding of every kind of technology being monitored. This means you are no longer limited by the skill sets of your own people. (8 Benefits of Remote Infrastructure Monitoring and Management)

    If monitoring or remote IT support are on your to-do list for 2015, consider a solution that not only provides unified monitoring and alerting but also has a support component that you can dial in by technology. Maybe you want more help managing Exchange than you do with your Linux servers - or the other way around. Depending upon your requirements, these solutions can be customized to your situation. More like "co-sourcing" than "out-sourcing."

    So, buy new monitoring. Or, buy monitoring with managed IT services that come with it. Dish out the work you don't want to do (or aren't good at) to remote support and focus on what you want to do. In a majority of the time, the remote operators will do it better and for less money than it costs you to do it yourself.

    Topics: Managed IT Services, Remote Tech Support

    8 Benefits of Remote Infrastructure Monitoring and Management

    Posted by Dave Bondo on Wed, Sep 11,2013 @ 09:06 PM

    Schematic of Remote Computer Support

    If you're considering ways to keep your infrastructure up and running while cutting costs AND completing your projects on time, you no doubt have given some thought to remote tech support. 

    Some while ago, I was given the assignment of growing a channel for a company offering remote monitoring. Since I knew nothing about it, I relied on my marketing background to do a market analysis and see what I could learn. I'll skip replaying the entire exercise and jump right to the part where I compared the various competitors in this space.

    There are a number of offerings out there worth considering and really there probably isn't one solution that fits all. That's why you should consider finding a partner who understands the idea of scalability. Some vendors have a "winner take all" attitude where they want your entire infrastructure and the services they offer are blanketed. Meaning, they will outline their services and that is what you must take if you take anything at all.

    So look for a vendor who truly wants to "partner" with you. Someone who will take the time to interview you to learn where you really need help. A true partner will understand that you don't really want to hand everything over. All you want is to have someone take the nuisance factor out of the day to day so that you and your team can focus more on innovation and on the new technologies that will make you money.

    But, in my opinion, here are the minimums you should expect from your remote tech support group. For reference, let's talk Windows.

    1. 24 X 7 monitoring of your Windows servers and OS - To clarify, this means physical AND virtual servers. Your new vendor should have the resources to not only monitor your environment around the clock, they should also have the know-how to react to problems, regardless of when they occur. Any time of day. Any day of the year.
    2. Alert Validation and Escalation - Noise from unwanted alerts is one of the number one causes of frustration in operations. At least 85% of alerts generated from devices or other monitoring tools are not actionable. The problem is that it isn't possible to always know which alerts you should read and which ones you should trash. You want a vendor who knows the difference and can separate the chicken salad from the chicken ----, well, you know what I mean.
    3. Run-book - If your monitoring vendor has a clue, they know that you really don't need to be bothered by every incident. Sometimes, all that is required is a simple re-boot. A good vendor will have a run-book that is your instructions on the steps to take to remediate a problem before they ask for your attention.
    4. OS Patching - A good vendor will have a schedule for reviewing the new releases on "Patch Tuesday" and for testing them, prior to installing them on your systems. As well, the particulars to your schedule need to be customized to your requirements.
    5. Anti-Virus Updates - (Yawn) which of your engineers do you really want doing this kind of work?
    6. Verifying Completion of Backup Jobs - Very simple here. You will want your vendor to notify you of the successful completion of backups.
    7. Integration with your service desk tool. Every remote tech support vendor will have their own tool for opening tickets and monitoring their progress. What you don't want to do is learn their system on top of learning your own. Your new vendor will have the expertise to integrate their ticketing system with your ITSM tool (ServiceNow for example).
    8. Dashboards and reporting - Here, you just want to be able to see whatever your remote tech support group is looking at. One window for all. Plus, weekly/monthly/quarterly reporting of the activity and potential problem areas.
    Beyond these standard services, look for a vendor who will also offer additional services, like trouble-shooting, root-cause analysis and maintenance vendor coordination.
    If you do your homework and shop wisely, you will find a good partner who will rid you of the headache of doing mundane, routine support work and free you up to do more towards getting ahead of the competition.

    Topics: IT Solutions, Managed IT Services, Remote Tech Support