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Integrated Network Management Is A Critical Asset

It seems almost too basic to state, but managing a network begins with understanding the traffic and activity moving across the network. When the company's business includes managing networks for hundreds of other companies, the monitoring functions become more critical and far more complicated.

Perot Systems is one of the largest system integration and operations firms, building IT systems and continuing their operations for hundreds of clients. Perot had used a number of different applications to manage the networks under its control, but they wanted to bring greater simplicity and functionality to its systems. "We wanted tools that would fit our client base and the needs of our company," says Steve Jacoy, Perot systems' director of network services. "Consolidating tools, increasing functionality, and better ease of use were the main drivers in the decision."

There were, of course, additional considerations. Jacoy says that the increasing expectations of the client base played a major role. "Being able to prove SLAs and show the things the client felt were important was critical. Reporting was another issue -- we need granular reporting," Jacoy says. He explains that Perot has considerations in their tool choice that might not apply to every company as it looks for solutions. "There are a lot of tools you can deploy and achieve certain expectations, but we have a collection of networks. Even as we try to drive standard services, we have to have a degree of flexibility," he says, noting that the individual concerns of their customers must be addressed by any tools they deploy.

Asked about the process that Perot went through in order to find the best tool or tools to meet their needs, Jacoy says, "We did a traditional bake-off. We developed a set of criteria that followed our requirements: What tools allow us to consolidate the various elements, provides reporting and gives a more granular view into the network?"

Meeting compliance targets (and proving that the targets have been met) and custom reporting to clients or regulatory agencies are equally important to take into account. These are among the common tasks that, according to Jacoy, vary widely in implementation from customer to customer. Still others include basic network performance measures. "Trend utilization and performance sound straightforward, but they weren't easy to achieve without third-party tools and probes," Jacoy says. He says that the basic measures are at the top line of information that's required before drilling down into more complex information required to insure that SLAs are being met.

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