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What’s Your Favorite Network Management App and Why?

By Brian Promes posted Tue January 10, 2023 03:42 PM


I’m going to share a story with you. It’s a story that will remind you that as much as things change, the more they stay the same. 

Earlier in my career I worked for a networking leader whose logo is modeled after the Golden Gate Bridge. One day my business unit GM stopped me in the parking lot as I was making my way into the office.  He had a last minute ask.  As he placed a thumb drive in my hand, he told me there was a US Government Customer Advisory Board he needed me to present to down the street in the main ballroom of the Marriott Hotel. 

Now how last minute was this ask?   The presentation started in 15 min.     

I raced down the street and made it into the ballroom in time.   In front of me was a horseshoe style table and chair setup, with ~20 networking and IT leaders from across the US Government, from the Social Security Administration, Health and Human Services, Transportation, and more.  Next to me was a laptop, and a projection unit to display my mystery slides on the big screen behind me.

Now I’m not a stranger to giving presentations, but this is the first time I’ve ever gone in cold.   I’m used to knowing my deck and using my deck to tell a story.  With the slides a complete mystery, I’ll admit it, I was a bit anxious about what I was about to present. 

Little did I know then, but I was about to embark on one of the most memorable moments of my career.

I got through the cover slide with ease…I introduced myself, got a better sense of my audience, and introduced my topic.   It was time to dive into the content. I hit the right arrow key to advance to slide 2.

Oh boy, was slide 2 a doozy.  On the screen behind me was a multi-layer architecture depicting the value of a model-driven network abstraction layer.  This layer was core to a series of network management and monitoring offerings we were looking to bring to market.  Lots of layers to explain. Lots of terminology to give context to.  Lots of lost eyes in the audience.  

But it wasn’t just lots of lost eyes, it was all of them in the room.   In less than 3 minutes into my 45-minute slot I had lost the room, and I had no clue what slides were next. 

Then I remembered a PowerPoint training class I had taken a few years earlier.  Think about it for a second.   When you are presenting to a live audience are they looking at you with lost eyes or looking at the screen with lost eyes?  Of course, it’s the screen.   Their eyes were fixated on it, trying to figure out the layers, trying to figure out all terminology and what it could mean for how they built and operated their networks.  I needed to bring the attention back to me vs the confusing slide behind me. 

I reached down to the laptop and pressed the “B” key. When you press the “B” key when a projecting a PowerPoint slide, it blacks out the screen.  Within a second, all the lost eyes that were staring at the screen immediately shifted to me.   This was my chance to win the room back.

I quickly admitted the slide I had up was complex.  I decided to turn the rest of the 42 minutes into a group discussion using a simple question:

“What’s your favorite network management application and why?”

The first person to raise their hand was the Director of Network Operations from the Social Security Administration.   He said, “My favorite network management app actually comes from your team.  It’s a device fault monitoring app.  When this app tells me my edge router is having an issue, I can trust there’s an issue that I need to look into further.”

He continued, “And I trust the data that comes from this system so much, that I share this data with other applications in our IT system management tool set.  I know my entire operations and engineering team is going to be making decisions based that same set of trusted data…for me and my team, that level of consistency is huge.”

That story spurred a series of active conversations about the plusses and minuses of different network management applications – easily filling my time slot – but more importantly the audience left with a better sense of what makes one network management application better than another and why.

Now let’s fast forward to just the other day.   

I was in a virtual meeting with a handful of users of IBM SevOne Network Performance Management (NPM).  I decided to kickoff the call asking these users the same question.

The first user to speak up gave nearly the answer as my audience member did years earlier.  But in this instance they were describing the value of the machine-learning based alerts from SevOne NPM:

“The network my team and I are responsible for has tens of thousands of devices.  There’s no way we can keep our eyes on all these devices.   SevOne NPM has allowed us to shift from trying to watch everything to being exception-based.   SevOne NPM continuously monitors and analyzes network performance data from across our entire network.   When a data point falls outside of our historical baseline for that device, we get notified that network performance is not normal.   Our team trusts the baseline data so much, that we automatically open trouble tickets to begin our troubleshooting process.”

Turns out the old line is still true.   The more things change, the more they stay them same. 

If you want to learn more about how the machine-learning driven baselines of SevOne NPM can help transform your network operations and engineering processes, reach out to us at:

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