Application Performance Monitoring

Too Many Tools? Too Complicated.

Today’s tale from the front lines of network monitoring comes to us from Edgar, a systems administrator at a bank in Northern Europe. Edgar has been at the bank long enough to know the systems inside and out, but his expertise was challenged each time the bank acquired a smaller bank or merged with a rival. The new banks had different systems and plenty of custom applications.    

Since Edgar was the trusted expert in IT, he was expected to deal with the toughest problems at all the banks. But as the number of different systems grew, so did Edgar’s stress. Naturally, the monitoring tools at each bank were a hodge-podge of software, some of which he didn’t know and didn’t have time to figure out. And since everyone used different products, the reports they created were inconsistent and hard to sort out the solid data.

toolbox-1The last straw came when a new admin in Latvia asked him for help creating a network map with SolarWinds. Never mind that Edgar didn’t speak Latvian. His experience with SolarWinds network maps had been disappointing. It didn’t make sense for the banks to have separate – and unequal – network mapping abilities, especially since accurate maps were needed for regulatory compliance.

Tired of the headaches caused by too many different tools, Edgar convinced his boss that it was past time to standardize on one product for monitoring across all the banks. Edgar decided to have a bake-off between WhatsUp Gold, which he’d been using for network monitoring for years, SolarWinds and Paessler. To be as open-minded as possible, he called each company and asked for a demo, with a particular emphasis on mapping, dashboards and reports.

For his final demo, Edgar called a WhatsUp Gold Sales Engineer and challenged him to prove that he should propose WhatsUp Gold as the new standard. The Sales Engineer gave Edgar a demo of the newest version including Application Performance Monitor (which Edgar hadn’t seen before). Not only were the maps better that in the competing products, the out-of-the-box reports were just what he needed. And Edgar was blown away that WhatsUp Gold’s single dashboard also included all the data from the Application Performance Monitor, so the staff wouldn’t have to switch interfaces to work with different parts of the IT environment. gbbakeoff

Edgar didn’t need long to decide that WhatsUp Gold was his answer. It wouldn’t help him speak Latvian, but perhaps now he wouldn’t have to.

Lessons learned:

  • When companies merge or acquire, the variety of monitoring tools can create a headache for IT
  • Standardizing on a monitoring suite saves time and reduces complexity and frustration
  • The ability to monitor applications in the same dashboard as all the infrastructure made every admin’s job easier
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