When you’re considering infrastructure monitoring, there certainly is no lack of options to choose from. From free to expensive, from targeted to comprehensive, today’s monitoring software provides a confusing assortment of features and claims.

 

So how to make sense of it all and choose something that meets your needs and is within your budget? The question “Can you afford it?” might quickly become “Can you afford not to have it?”, especially when you consider the cost of poor performance and downtime.

 

Let’s look at ways to frame the problem and help find what’s right for you. We start by thinking about what you value and are willing to pay for.

The Value of Comprehensive Monitoring

The roads and freeways around Boston are a system of interconnected components that affect each other. If there’s an accident on a major artery, traffic is affected on every access road. Knowing how the roads connect and where all the problems are is critical to optimizing your trip from point A to point B. I rely on an application called Waze, which uses crowdsourcing to deliver up-to-the-minute information about all manner of problems along my route. It offers alternative faster routes when appropriate.

 

That’s the power of comprehensive monitoring.

 

Similarly, your infrastructure is a complex system of interconnected components. You’ll be in trouble if you monitor servers, storage, and networks separately. You need monitoring software like Waze that gives you real-time updates on all the problem areas and how they are affecting the overall performance of your systems. Without that, you’ll be stuck searching for problems while your users complain.

The Value of Proactive Analytics

Continuing with my Waze analogy: During my commute, Waze knows which routes will be jammed because it learns from all the historical data. Using that knowledge, it can pick the optimal route, so I can avoid sitting in stop-and-go traffic.

 

That’s the power of proactive analytics.

 

With a comprehensive monitoring tool, you can use the knowledge of performance patterns to alert you to possible problems before they have a serious impact on your users and your business.

The Value of Making the Right Decision

When you’re getting insights from comprehensive, proactive analytics, you’re able to make intelligent decisions. I’ve learned to never doubt Waze. When I think a Waze suggestion is counterintuitive and I ignore it, I’m always wrong. All you Waze users out there know what I’m talking about!

 

And so it should be with your monitoring tool. Knowing your performance and resource needs helps you find unused resources. You can make informed decisions about what to free up and what to move to a more cost-effective tier.

 

The net-net of these values is peace of mind. And what is that worth?

 

As I’ve learned over the years, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When you’re in the line of fire and it all goes bad, you’ll be the one to pay the price. Knowing that your systems are performing at optimal cost and being aware when they aren’t is worth something. But what?

 

With corporate fear of downtime, you would think the sky’s the limit. Especially with high-profile outages making news, anything that keeps your systems up and running is worth it, right? Unfortunately, with today’s tight budgets, your boss is likely to ask: Why invest in expensive solutions when there are free or open-source tools on the market?

 

Well, a return-on-investment (ROI) analysis can be an effective way to justify your investment and to compare different monitoring tools. In looking at the benefit of deploying your monitoring tool, you’ll want to consider operational efficiency savings, reduced time to find and fix problems, and reduced downtime and outages. On the expense side of the ledger, consider the costs you’ll incur from initial purchase to installation, support, and training. Finally, consider your window of opportunity. Can your ROI be positive in days, or will it be months or even years?

 

As we’ve been working on our new SaaS monitoring tool called NetApp® Cloud Insights, we’ve given a lot of thought to how to balance the value you’ll get with the cost you’ll pay. I’d like to share our priorities in considering what factors are important to create a good balance.

Our First Consideration Is Speed to ROI

Because Cloud Insights is a SaaS tool, we’ve worked at making the deployment easy. Cloud Insights quickly inventories what resources you have, figures out the interdependencies across them, and assembles a topology of your environment. You’ll have end-to-end visibility into which resources are supporting which applications. With that data, you’ll be able to begin proactively monitoring your infrastructure.

 

All this means you can start to see positive returns in days.

Our Second Consideration Is a Price Based on a Metric That Makes Sense

Most monitoring tools charge by the size of the infrastructure estate to be monitored. This model makes sense, because the more systems and components you have, the more value you’ll get, and the more you’ll have to pay. Where most tools differ is in how they count the size of your environment. Some count the amount of storage; some count the number of servers or virtual machines (VMs). The difference mostly depends on the history of the tool. If it got its start monitoring storage, then that’s what it counts. If it got its start monitoring servers, then that’s what it counts.

 

Because Cloud Insights was designed from the beginning to monitor all your infrastructure, both in the cloud and on the premises, we needed to reflect that in our metering method. Therefore, what we meter is what we call a managed unit (MU). MUs include both compute and storage. We think using MUs is a fair way to capture the value you’re getting.

 

Are you interested? Register to be a candidate for the early preview of Cloud Insights. After you’re registered, we’ll keep you informed about our progress.

Omri Kessel