Sergey Nivens - Fotolia
How to build a network monitoring business case
As network teams construct a business case for a new network monitoring tool, they should include a cost comparison of alternative tools and a strong defense for the selected tool.
Businesses must always firmly justify the purchase of any capital expenditures. For those network teams seeking more satisfactory network monitoring, they must make a business case that supports the need.
In this article, we discuss how network teams can convince IT decision-makers that a network monitoring tool is necessary and valuable to the IT department and entire organization. To do this, teams should look at the four following areas:
- how modern network monitoring tools can help businesses;
- shortcomings in alternative monitoring tools and methods;
- how to prove they've performed the necessary research to find the monitoring tool that best fits the business; and
- ways to prove ROI.
1. Ways network monitoring tools can help a business
No one can doubt that the underlying network infrastructure is a critical part of almost any enterprise organization. As such, it should be easy for teams to point out ways network monitoring can reduce downtime, prevent data security issues, save time and reduce unnecessary spending.
Here are some examples of how network monitoring tools can help businesses in both the short and long term:
- reduce network outages by quickly identifying exactly where network faults occur;
- stay ahead of network bottlenecks by identifying them before they affect the business;
- justify where and when performance upgrades are needed;
- identify performance and security misconfigurations; and
- provide end-to-end visibility across the network, even when some of the business's infrastructure migrates to public or private clouds.
2. Deficiencies with alternative monitoring tools and methods
When making a pitch to buy a new network monitoring tool, network teams should expect questions such as "What's wrong with how we monitor the network today?" Likely, the network already has some type of monitoring -- whether it comprises monitoring network device logs, deployment of open source tools or proprietary monitoring features that are built into networking products.
While these tools and features offer some monitoring and alerting benefits that a fully dedicated network monitoring platform provides, it's important to point out the shortcomings of current monitoring methods. These shortcomings include facts such as the following:
- They lack true end-to-end visibility.
- Some monitoring capabilities are proprietary and compartmentalized.
- They lack professional support.
- Management of proprietary or decentralized monitoring features is complicated and time-consuming.
3. How to prove you've found the right tool
When teams pitch the idea of purchasing a network monitoring tool, they should already have a product in mind. When asked how they concluded that a specific product is the right tool for the business, they should be ready to defend their choice.
Here are some examples of ways teams can prove they've done their homework:
- show market research evidence comparing similar tools;
- provide use case scenarios detailing tool benefits within similar market verticals;
- highlight which capabilities and features will benefit the business the most;
- show support options for the selected tool and how they align with the level of support required for the business without going overboard;
- highlight how the selected tool integrates well with existing networking hardware and software; and
- construct cost vs. capability comparisons with alternative tools.
4. How to prove ROI
Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, teams will need to prove that an investment in a network monitoring tool will pay for itself in the long term. To do this, it's best to focus on how past events have caused unexpected or unnecessary outages and costs and how a network monitoring tool could have prevented those incidents, which translates into either more business revenue or cost savings.
Some examples of how you can prove ROI for network monitoring include the following:
- review network outages in the past, and show how the troubleshooting and root cause analysis could have been sped up to reduce time and money;
- review security and configuration incidents that caused business outages, which could have been avoided with the proper tool;
- show instances when the IT department had to scramble to perform an unexpected upgrade that network monitoring could have preemptively identified; and
- point out situations where network monitoring tools could have better identified network usage patterns that the team could use to better right-size future network component purchases.