Mar 03 2023

With Services and Solutions, Companies Have Choices for Network Monitoring

IT performance and security depend on the robust monitoring. There are many ways to get there.

A network outage could cost North American Savings Bank hundreds of thousands of dollars each hour. And for a while, its actions to mitigate the chances of that happening were not entirely reassuring: The Kansas City-based bank was relying on a mix of on-call IT employees and ad hoc contracting services to support the network.

“We were getting skills by the hour, with no service-level agreements, from contractors who may or may not have familiarity with our environment,” says Jay Duthler, vice president of technology infrastructure for NASB. “There was no preventive maintenance involved. When we had a problem, we would either have to wait for them to finish up another contract, or else pay double. We wanted to transition to a committed managed service provider.”

NASB opted to work with CDW to monitor and manage its network. Other organizations monitor their IT networks themselves with help from best-in-class tools. Whichever way businesses accomplish it, network visibility is essential for helping IT departments to ensure uptime and security.

Mark Leary, research director for network analytics and automation at IDC, says that effective network monitoring solutions and services can support mission-critical business initiatives by detecting threats, resolving problems and simplifying the user experience.

“Network monitoring solutions that do this simply, swiftly and smartly drive resiliency, innovation and, critically, IT staff value and teamwork,” Leary says. 

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Network Monitoring Services Make Life Easier for IT Teams

At NASB, CDW led a network upgrade that replaced some core and branch networking equipment while also incorporating the bank’s existing Meraki infrastructure. CDW uses platforms from vendors including NetBrain and ScienceLogic to provide network monitoring and support.

“We have multiple network operations centers, or NOCs,” says Justin Haase, director of managed services for CDW. “We have people working 24 hours a day to ingest these messages and alerts. Depending on the situation, we’ll either take action on our own to fix the problem or escalate the issue with the customer.”

Meadors full width image

Joe Meadors, vice president of information services for Indianapolis-based Gaylor Electric. Photography by Chris Bucher. 

The partnership, Duthler says, has significantly reduced the management burden on NASB’s IT staff while also providing a much higher level of service. “CDW’s monitoring systems are very mature,” he says. “If we wanted to do this on our own, we would be faced with building our own monitoring system, building our own staff and training that staff. Our overall costs would be higher, and we still wouldn’t be able to achieve the capacity that we get with managed services.”

Duthler compares the bank’s previous reliance on contracted services to a superhero swooping in to save the day. With ongoing network monitoring from CDW, he says, there is rarely a need for such last-minute heroics.

DIG DEEPER: Learn more about the North American Savings Bank.

“The model we had before was, you start making phone calls at 2 a.m., and if you get the problem fixed by 7 a.m., you’re a hero,” Duthler says. “But you don’t need to be a hero to be a good service provider. The real measure of success is that you’re able to leave your cape on the hook because there aren’t any emergencies.”

Joe Meadors headshot
Years ago, an outage wasn’t that big of a deal. Today, it brings a business to its knees pretty quickly.”

Joe Meadors Vice President of Information Services, Gaylor Electric

How Monitoring Helps Increase Network Stability

The importance of network stability has increased over the years as more business operations are depend on it, notes Joe Meadors, vice president of information services for Indianapolis-based Gaylor Electric. “Years ago, an outage wasn’t that big of a deal,” Meadors says. “Today, it brings a business to its knees pretty quickly.”

Without effective monitoring tools, IT departments must play catch-up to respond to problems, and performance and security problems can sometimes go unnoticed for extended periods of time.

“Not everybody submits a help desk ticket when something breaks,” he says. “Before we put monitoring in place, an application might have been running slow for days, and nobody told us.” Another common scenario: The company’s network would go down overnight, and no one would know about it until 7 a.m. the next day. Then, IT would have to scramble to get it back up as quickly as possible.

LEARN MORE: Why banks need more flexible infrastructure.

To solve these problems, Gaylor Electric, a provider of electrical construction and support services, deployed the SolarWinds Orion Platform, which provides network monitoring capabilities and gives the organization visibility into its virtual server and application environments.

Meadors says that the alerts from the platform give IT staffers the information they need to proactively solve problems before users run into issues that cause productive to suffer. The solution has reduced both troubleshooting time and network downtime, he says.

“This has really increased the trust that people have in the technology that they depend on to do their jobs,” Meadors says. “It has provided us with stability and made things dramatically more predictable. It’s really important that we’ve taken that question mark off the table.”


The portion of organizations that have experienced problems connecting workers to company resources over the past 18 months

Source: Cisco, “2022 Global Networking Trends Report,” May 2022

The Right Solution Monitors More Than Just the Network

American Savings Bank in Hawaii had been monitoring its network, but sought a product that could better meet its needs and was easier to use than its predecessor, says Peter Plotzeneder, server administrator for ASB.

In 2022, it shifted to WhatsUp Gold’s solution for all its monitoring. “Previously, if an application was performing poorly, we had to look at a bunch of different dashboards to figure out where the problem was,” Plotzeneder says.

The deployment of WhatsUp Gold changed that, making life simpler for the IT team and providing security for the bank. “One of the biggest challenges is finding a tool that everybody can use,” Plotzeneder says. “There are quite a few solutions out there that are great for monitoring the network, providing visibility into servers or monitoring applications. But there are only a handful of products that bundle all that into one solution.”

READ ON: How banks can make the most of their customer data.

Before selecting the solution, ASB ran proof-of-concept projects with tools from several vendors. Plotzeneder says that WhatsUp Gold stood out not only for its monitoring capabilities but also for how quickly IT employees picked up the platform. “The ability to create and share dashboards is the easiest I’ve ever seen,” he says. “Users can create a dashboard for the suite of systems they manage, and then they can generate a snapshot every morning that tells them whether there’s anything that needs to be addressed.”

This ease of use helped ASB to gain quick adoption. “You can bring the best product in the world into your organization, but if users don’t want to use it, it will never be adopted,” he says.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: How financial firms can make use of decentralized finance.

Plotzeneder says that WhatsUp Gold has helped ASB to catch potential network problems earlier than before, preventing these issues from metastasizing into something more serious. “There are applications that are used so infrequently or that are so automated, you wouldn’t even know that they were down until the problem grew to be really big,” he says. “In banking, that’s a huge problem. Network monitoring helps us to be proactive rather than reactive. And reactive IT is not good in anyone’s eyes.”

Credit: Dan Videtich

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