Some network monitoring tools claim to do it all. Is it better to choose a more expansive solution with a broad feature set, or a tighter solution that focuses on meeting a few felt needs?
Let’s think about it in the context of food. You’re at a cookout with friends. The grill-master plops a steaming patty onto your plate. On the table, you see your hosts have spared no expense to provide a thorough array of choices for toppings. Ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise; cheddar, Swiss, and bleu cheese; dill pickles; grilled onions, bacon… all the typical condiments and beyond.
Network monitoring software has a lot in common with condiments. Some options, like ketchup, are a one-size-fits-all solution. Whether you put ketchup on French fries, hot dogs, or meatloaf, it’ll get the job done and taste just fine.
On the other hand, the more niche network monitoring options—ones that excel at mapping, or log data analysis, or cloud monitoring—are like the bacon, bleu cheese, or grilled onions. They don’t go with everything, but add them to the right entrée, and it’s downright delicious. Next to these specialty toppings, ketchup just doesn’t look as appealing (unless you’re five years old).
Related Content: Download the Ultimate Buyer's Guide: Network Monitoring Software in 2017.
Why the “perfect” monitoring tool is a myth
When we’re researching any new software solution, from IT operations management to infrastructure monitoring to cybersecurity, we have to decide, do I want a ketchup solution or a specialty condiment solution? Out of the dozens of network monitoring systems on the market, you’ll find both. Before you go searching for the perfect solution, you should know it doesn't exist. Sure, a "ketchup" solution will make more promises and offer more functionality. But these solutions tend to offer more features than you'll actually use—and perform them less well than a specialty tool.
Say you’re a large enterprise. You truly need an extensive feature set and can afford a higher price point. Maybe a one-size-fits-all solution is right for you. But if you just need strong functionality in a specific area, you may want to consider a niche network monitoring tool that focuses on core features—and does them really well.
The Truth about “One-Size-Fits-All” Network Monitoring Tools
Today’s IT environments are increasingly complex. Virtualization, cloud computing, and mobile technology present new challenges for network management. As networks get larger, providing adequate bandwidth and upgrading hardware that is underperforming is critical. Network monitoring systems have never been more critical to preventing network failures and ensuring business success.
In this complicated, high-pressure network environment, it’s actually more common than not to have multiple tools to solve multiple problems—as long as your tools play well together.
When you have a single network monitoring system for all of your monitoring needs:
- Getting up and running will take longer. Niche solutions are usually easy to learn and quick to install and start using right away, but more expansive solutions require more configuration and training before you can use them to their full capabilities.
- You might be able to do everything, but you won’t be able to do everything well. When a software provider broadens its functionality, it’s often because they’re trying to widen their user base and appeal to more people. But trying to do more may take them away from what they were originally good at.
- You may get nickeled-and-dimed by the vendor, as you may have to purchase add-ons or extra modules to get the features you need (along with any services or training required to use those features).
Why Niche Tools Can Lead to Better ROI and More Effective Monitoring
IT people are practical. Let’s face it—you just want tools to solve your everyday problems. During software demos, you can tell immediately if a product isn’t solid (and you’re not going to waste your time with products that aren’t solid).
You know what you need. So why not choose a solution that meets your need, and meets it really well? Another real-life example: if you need a knife for deer hunting, you’re not going to buy a Swiss Army knife, with its dinky little blade, scissors, and nail file. Nor will you buy a vegetable peeler or a Chef’s knife. You’ll buy a sharp, durable hunting blade that has a good grip and is easy to clean.
Do you need device monitoring? Application monitoring? Are you looking for a tool that can provide visibility, automation, or customization?
When you consider the features and functionality you actually need and find a tool that does just that, you’ll benefit by getting:
- Higher ROI. When you’re not wasting unused features, and the tool is actually solving real business problems, you’ll profit more in the long run.
- Better functionality. Tools that focus on doing several things really well give you a better user experience than tools that try to do everything well (but can’t do it all).
There is no perfect network monitoring tool.
Software shopping in the modern world is no easy task. When it comes to network monitoring systems, there are dozens of options that excel in various areas. Some make claims as be-all-end-all tools, but in reality, there is no perfect tool. Most tools can’t do it all well. If you have a felt problem, find the solution that fixes it, and start using it. It’s as simple as that.