Monitoring costs: buy cheap, buy twice
This post is also available in: Spanish
If you’ve been working in IT for any length of time you’ll have come across a multitude of software at very different price points. Normally software is specialized, and each kind of software has its own market and a specific end-user in mind. However, there are sectors that include freeware and Opensource options alongside licensed and Enterprise software. In this specific case we’re going to talk about the monitoring sector and monitoring costs, both quantifiable and unquantifiable.
How can both options coexist in a sector whose principal clients are large and medium-sized companies? Let’s analyze some of the key points of this software to find out what the real cost of monitoring software is.
Firstly, while not all companies are the same, either in size or resources, they all have the same need for monitoring software that allows them to know if their machines are working at 100%. Multinational companies working in the IT sector employ thousands of people and have a huge amount of IT material. Logically the larger the company, the larger the budget and the more they can invest in monitoring software. However, both kinds of companies, large or medium-sized, depend heavily on their IT assets and need to know what their status is at any given moment and to be able to act rapidly in case of incidents.
But if a medium-sized company can cover their technical requirements with free monitoring software, why don’t all companies opt for this? The short answer is exponential workload growth. This is the question in a nutshell, but we can break it down into five points to help us understand the real cost of monitoring software:
– The time factor: the first of the hidden monitoring costs. Monitoring software is not so easy to use correctly; it requires a certain amount of advanced technical knowledge, which can result in a large investment of time for the person in charge, and more so, if that person does not have the necessary knowledge. This clearly implies losing time, and Time is Money.
– Depending on internal personnel: as we’ve noted, monitoring is not simple, so we need a specialist in charge, but placing your monitoring in the hands of an individual entails many inconveniences; people are people, and they get sick, suffer from stress, need holidays, and sometimes leave your company to go and work for another one. Alternatively, you could employ a whole team to make sure you are constantly covered, although this implies spreading your budget a little thinner to cover those extra manpower costs, another hidden monitoring cost.
– Support: the lack of a personalized support service provided by the supplier is directly related to the previously mentioned problem of having a single person in charge of the monitoring tool. Having a support service gives you the peace of mind that comes from knowing that, behind your own IT staff, there is a team of experts who can respond quickly to any doubts, questions or incidents that can come up, helping to not only save time, but also guaranteeing the stability of your monitoring installation.
– Adapting to change: in a sector like IT, where everything advances and changes at breakneck pace, monitoring software is constantly adapting to new and different concepts and needs. If you’re relying on a free tool, you’re going to have to perform a series of updates and developments in order to cover your requirements, and you’ll need some advanced technical knowledge in order to keep your software up to date. In the end you can find yourself dedicating as much time to maintaining your monitoring tool, as to monitoring the rest of your IT network.
– Customized development: if you’re using license-free software, you’re going to discover that there is a lack of custom developments, meaning that your IT people will need to develop them themselves, implying a further drain on your resources and a more complicated update and maintenance program, not to mention an added complication when it comes to identifying problems or working around incompatibilities.
Taking these points into account, you can imagine for yourself the monitoring costs of a tool and how problems can multiply exponentially when that tool is deployed in a large IT eco-system with hundreds of machines to monitor. The cost and time required become incalculable: can you imagine deploying a MySQL monitoring script to provide cover for 200 servers, developed in-house, without also requiring a deployment system integrated in your monitoring service? Your DBA and your boss might have something to say.
Investing in Enterprise software, backed up by an organization, guarantees that these problems are dealt with. The professional service provided by the supplier guarantees specialized service support, ensuring regular and planned growth and updating of your chosen software and the custom developments that keep you covered. It provides guarantees regarding extra features, such as software deployment, centralized management and administration, without needing access to the machines themselves, or to options like clusterization, HA or disaster recovery. Enterprise software includes all these options and you won’t need to rely on different applications to cover each task separately. Enterprise software also includes certified training in the use of the product, solving the problem of over-dependency on a single IT guru.
Evaluating these points can help you to understand the real cost of free monitoring software, when compared with an Enterprise product featuring a real-time support service. To paraphrase; there’s no such thing as free software, everything comes at a price, and ours is there from the first minute on the web, in black and white, without complications or 50% off, last-minute “discounts”, or supposedly free things which end up costing you more than you imagined.