Network monitoring offers an open platform for partners to do justice to the word value in the term “value add resellers”. Whilst not, perhaps, the sexiest of technologies, it offers huge advantages for partners and should be fundamental to everything they do. Rupert Collier, senior channel manager at Paessler, a unified monitoring specialist based in Nuremberg, Germany, gives three reasons why:
Firstly everyone needs it, regardless of size or industry. If a company runs on technology, it needs to know that its technology is working properly. Downtime costs even the smallest companies dearly and, although they may not readily admit it, most IT bosses know that their job depends on accurate information - and that information often isn’t readily available to them when they need it.
This isn’t just restricted to on premise assets either. In the new age of “cloudification”, where companies are entrusting critical services such as email, CRM and security systems to the likes of Microsoft, Google and Amazon, unified monitoring becomes crucial. When you don’t have direct control over your resources, the importance of performance-related data increases all the more, despite the fact your hardware might no longer reside on site.
Secondly, you help make the IT manager look good, to his boss and to the users his department serves. It helps them move away from constantly firefighting to a more pro-active, analytical approach. Network monitoring sales is a very personal process because it is most likely going to be used by the specific individual(s) to whom you are trying to sell, however senior they may be.
IT managers and directors are increasingly being asked to come up with ways to make their companies more innovative, agile and competitive. Their job description is changing, it’s now more than just to keep the lights on. To initiate POCs, grow the infrastructure and provide more agility, they need one thing more than anything else: reliable information. A good network monitoring solution provides that.
Feel the power
Thirdly, it allows channel partners to assume tenure of a customer’s IT estate. This entails great responsibility, so it better be something you are comfortable with, however, the rewards are rich. Access to, visibility of, and control over a customer’s entire network opens up possibilities to service providers that you just don’t get as a “stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” type organisation.
The most successful partners use network monitoring alerts as an early warning system – in all senses of the term. Initially, as they are designed, to provide an invaluable service to the end customer in the inevitable quest for 100% uptime. But also as the precursor for product lifecycle conversations and therefore other vendors’ deal registration programs. Suddenly your network monitor is helping to secure valuable margin and rebates on everything else you sell because you know about their requirements so much further in advance. No-one in the channel gets rich on network monitoring alone, but it gives them access to the crown jewels – the data-centre.
The term network monitoring is actually a bit misleading. Unified monitoring is a better description because the network itself is actually just the beginning.
Storage. Infrastructure. End user devices. Printers. CCTV. Bandwidth. VoIP. Data-centres and server rooms. Door entry systems. Air-con. Even Internet-enabled coffee machines if you want. All of these and more offer up critical information which a good monitoring tool will decipher, amalgamate, report and alert on, display graphically and use to ensure SLAs are being met.
The only real restriction is the partner’s and/or customers’ own creativity in what can be monitored and how. From the salinity and temperature of a prawn farm to the cheapest petrol in town on a given day, Paessler has seen the variety of monitoring scenarios become wilder and nuttier.
One company’s boss liked everyone to wear a tie in the office so the IT guys hooked up PRTG to his Outlook calendar to see when he was in the office. The days he was in, a little man with a tie would appear on the company-wide dashboard so people knew to smarten themselves up.
Technology is only becoming more pervasive and complex. Things typically managed by janitors and estate management staff are now falling into the remit of the IT guys. If you want to make yourself indispensable as a supplier, provide some clarity in this maze of IT and push down doors previously closed to you, you really should be selling unified monitoring.