Seven Arguments Against DIY Server & Network Monitoring

Midmarket companies should consider a remote monitoring service for their networks and servers, especially in a down economy.  Viewed holistically, remote monitoring not only serves as an insurance policy for business operations but also creates real business value.  Unfortunately, the incremental spend often causes businesses to overlook the tangible returns on investment, or doing it yourself seems like the cheaper option.

Here are the seven most frequently overlooked areas of business value versus doing it yourself or not at all:Numero-7

1. No additional software and hardware expense…plus avoid hidden costs – A managed remote monitoring service requires no additional software and hardware but delivers the same value.  Often lost in the buy vs. outsource equation are the hidden costs of server and software selection, training, configuration, maintenance, physical and storage space, and power.  These soft costs add up and do not disappear over time. You may not need additional hardware now, but you will now need hardware sooner! If budgets are tight, the upfront cash or financing required might make the investment impossible altogether.

2. Prevent costly downtime – Your business productivity matters now more than ever.  You cannot afford to be disconnected from customers and suppliers, to have your billing process interrupted, or to be flying blind about your business operation.  Many remote monitoring service providers provide not only alerting of critical errors, but also valuable reports, analysis and recommendations that can help your business reduce downtime by preventing problems before they happen.

3.  Less on-call time – Implementing an internal monitoring solution does not guarantee service levels.  Service levels require technical staff to be on-call after hours, on weekends, and during holidays.  Today, many companies are asking more from their staffs and requiring more work hours and greater flexibility.  Using a remote monitoring provider means your employees can sleep easy unless the problem is truly critical.  This improves both employee morale and retention.

4. Avoid configuration errors – Many businesses miss critical alerts when the in-house monitoring package is misconfigured, meaning that alert thresholds are set too low or disabled.  Often, this is overcompensation for an initial configuration that was too sensitive and generated too many alerts.  Managed service providers have experience configuring monitoring and alerting thresholds and escalation rules that make sense for each business.

5. Reduce risk associated with doing it in-house – By using a third party service provider, you insulate yourself from risks specific to your business. Those risks include hardware failure on the monitoring server, service interruption by your Internet or power providers, and poor employee performance or worse.  Using a service provider can give you peace of mind, which otherwise would only come by having a large staff and redundant providers – luxuries few can afford right now.

6. Holiday, vacation, illness coverage – Avoid paying overtime or taxing your already lean staff with on-call coverage during holidays, vacations or when staff is out sick.  Ensure continuity when you experience staff transitions, such as resignation, terminations and/or layoffs.  Network monitoring service providers provide coverage 24/7/365.

7. Proactive business planning –  Wouldn’t you like to know about future technology needs, such as when to purchase new hardware, memory, disk space or  virtualization software such as VMWare?  Third-party server and network monitoring providers can supply you with information and analysis to better prioritize and plan your cash flows.

Remote monitoring services are both affordable and prudent.  During this challenging business cycle, every hour of productivity is critical. Midmarket businesses should consider remote server and network monitoring as a service they can’t afford to be without.

9 thoughts on “Seven Arguments Against DIY Server & Network Monitoring

  1. These are very good points. Add to the fact that a dedicated remote monitoring service will have staff 24/7 which will analyze alerts as they happen, and you are sure to catch important events in the middle of all the traffic. Automatic systems generate a lot of false positives, and these alerts may not require immediate critical action, but will grab the attention every time of inhouse on call engineers. They will get burn down, and will not perform adequately their daytime job, which is to deploy more infrastructure.

    Finally it does need to be expensive, you can outsource it to any place in the world. We have started this kind of business from Fiji, it is closer to the west coast of the USA than anything, in terms of timezone (4 hours) and speed. Usually I don’t see the difference of being in Fiji or in California when accessing data centers in California.

    And you can come teach us about your systems and carry on vacations 😉

  2. The whole software as a service (SaaS) and managed service is the new ‘right’ IT decision for many businesses. High value, low cost and all the reasons stated above.

  3. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  4. Franck, Business trips to Fiji! Who wouldn’t see that as a value-add? I agree with your points. We definitely see misconfigured alerting thresholds and I too suspect that the root cause is to minimize false positives. A good managed service provider will instead set the thresholds appropriately and investigate the positives.

    AJ, I’m glad to see you agree also. The economics are very compelling so long as clients understand and acknowledge the hidden costs of delivering support in-house. A discounted cash flow model with the appropriate cost of capital would demonstrate that the up-front investments and opportunity costs in the short term are far more expensive than the recurring expense over the long term. Then layer on the fully deductible operational expense versus the capital depreciation of hardware and software expenses … no brainer. Perhaps that’s a topic for another blog post.


  5. My company got shut down a couple of days ago by a massive traffic spike from Yahoo. We caught the problem right away, but it took us nearly an hour to ramp up capacity. Any advice?

  6. Demian,

    I’m very sorry to hear that … although I hope the traffic was welcome and not an attack of some sort. Knowing that you’re down typically is not the problem … at that point it is too late … knowing well-enough in advance is the challenge.

    I’d ask what monitoring and alerting is in place to identify capacity issues before they happen? Most any IP device can be monitored and thresholds set so that the proper resources are alerted when when peaks or averages exceed a threshold. If the answer is none, then you should go down the buy vs. outsource path. If your company has monitoring software, then it may be misconfigured or not fully utilized or perhaps it doesn’t support all of the areas where failure could originate. If you have a provider monitoring for you already, then it is time to ask for a credit on next month’s invoice!

    I know that you understand that excess capacity can be quickly absorbed by outlier spikes. As such, there is always the possiblity that monitoring and alerting wouldn’t have helped.


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