Anyone who says don't be afraid of things that go bump in the night doesn't have 316 frame relay data circuits,...
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50 DSL lines, and 2,500 end users on his back.
Mike Harmon, manager, senior network engineer at Randstad, an Atlanta-based temporary staffing agency, knows all too well about bumps in the night and the damage they can cause.
Randstad's network, which incorporates dozens of branch offices nationwide, was prone to outages. Frequently, one of the data circuits would suffer what Harmon called a "bump in the night" -- it would go down for no apparent reason. During those bumps, IT likely wouldn't discover the outage until morning and "may or may not even [have been] aware there was a problem."
Needless to say, Harmon and his staff "don't want to wait until the office opens to fix the problem."
Sherry Triebert, Logix Resource Group president, called the monitoring and management platform a "software-as-a-service" model. The company's services are typically sold through VARS and resellers, and are used by most customers through their carriers.
Essentially, Logix monitors the network, and when it notices a problem, it automatically opens a trouble ticket and notifies the carrier. The carrier initiates testing to see where the problem lies and then opens another ticket once the problem is found. From there, the proper procedures are followed to quell the problem, Triebert said.
Logix, based in Norcross, Ga., also offers LogixNMC-Flow Reports, a hosted service that provides customized, ad hoc reporting for management application performance.
According to Logix, Randstad uses the services for 24/7 network monitoring, network management and performance reports, bandwidth utilization reports, XML bonding to the carrier for automatic trouble ticketing, and SLA reports, which are automatically generated to receive credits from the carrier.
"The nice thing about it is the fact that it's automated," Harmon said. "It gives us the upper hand."
Harmon said Logix lets his staff monitor and ping each router in the network to check that it's operating properly.
"It doesn't require us to physically monitor the sites," he said.
And having the network looked at 24/7 not only adds peace of mind but ensures that any downtime will be minimal. It also eliminates the need to call carriers and service providers to get a trouble ticket started when a problem does arise.
"A lot of times, when you have a problem you spend 45 minutes to an hour on hold waiting," Harmon said. "Right off the bat you save 45 minutes from not being on hold."
SLA reports also come in handy. With a click of a button, Harmon, through Logix, can generate SLA reports that can save Randstad thousands.
"They're a real time-saver and a financial godsend," he said. "To do it manually, it would take five to six hours examining all of the tickets. I just did one, it took less than two minutes to generate the report and submit it to [the carrier]."
Harmon said the amount of the SLA credits varies month by month, depending on the number of problems the network experienced, but he estimated that SLA credits could total $4,000 to $5,000 during a busy stretch.
Harmon said he's also using Logix to generate bandwidth utilization reports, which can pinpoint which offices are under-utilizing bandwidth. If one site reports latency, he can check how much bandwidth is being used and determine whether it is lack of bandwidth that is causing the trouble.
"If the bandwidth isn't an issue," he said, "we can look in another direction."