by Cathy Fulton
For any technical mistake, there’s usually a technical solution. Losing time while a problem persists is embarrassing, but you can recover from such delays. Much bigger problems occur when you try to change the workflow of the people who use the software. That’s when IT projects become difficult.
It’s extraordinarily difficult to get people to change the way they’ve been doing things. If you deploy an expensive piece of software in the expectation that people will automatically change the way that they normally do their jobs as a consequence of the switchover, you will greatly reduce your chances of success.
In terms of performance management, one of the biggest and most widespread challenges companies face comes from a shortage of experienced people who are used to managing application performance from the top-down or end-to-end performance perspective. Instead, their people are used to managing network availability, so that’s what they know and the first approach they take. The challenges this poses reflects the hard truth that the world of performance management is dramatically different from fault management. Most agree that it makes sense, the challenge is in making it happen.
The scale of the data, its ranges, and the actions you take (the potential solutions, I mean,) all illustrate clearly that performance is a rich and diverse discipline when compared to managing fault or even security. Looking on the Web you can see tons of articles in IT publications and blogs dedicated to how to make a network more secure. I think that by now, network professionals have an idea how to address security issues. They may back away from some recommended solutions because of cost or complexity issues, but they have a pretty good understanding of security.
But there are only a handful of Web sites dealing with Network Performance – this is one of them. And this is a shame, because most network techs don’t understand the many powerful and informative technologies and techniques available to them in the field of performance management. So they either go unused or get used badly. That’s a challenge we faced when we started up – finding people who had this knowledge. We thought it was more widespread than it actually was. We had to educate and train our own people because this knowledge is not out there, even in places you expect.
Another challenge–network training is very vendor-specific, and it will not necessarily have a performance management component. This is one of the drivers behind the vendor-neutral or agnostic training offerings NetQoS has introduced including NetPerformance.com’s NetAnalyst certification. These offerings are focused more broadly on how you manage for performance and how can you optimize the return on investment on your infrastructure.
You might think of a few companies as performance experts, when they might be troubleshooting experts. But, troubleshooting is very reactive. If you want to knock the wind out of the competition today, you have to be strategically proactive. That’s what’s missing right now in IT.
Here are a few blogs that touch on Network Performance:
Alderson’s On the Wire
- Cisco Blog
Hamilton’s Network Earth
- Network Dictionary
Blog (user-submitted networking definitions)
The Way We See IT
Cathy Fulton is the CTO of NetQoS.