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Purchasing network monitoring gear is a substantial investment of both the company's budget and the credibility of the individual making a purchasing recommendation. You want to have peace of mind when you're making that investment, an iron-clad guarantee that the gear purchased is a high-quality, perfect-fit solution to your company's monitoring needs.
But network monitoring is a highly technical and specialized field. Unless you've made network monitoring your life's work, you'll want to have the advice of an expert you can trust when planning your monitoring system.
For most purchasers of network monitoring gear, the only technical expert they have to turn to is their equipment vendor. It's scary to rely on the advice of someone who is selling you something. How do you know you're getting the right advice? How can you select a gear vendor you can trust?
As the client, you have the power to select the vendor that best suits your needs. You don't have to accept anything less than the best gear, service, and support. Here's a checklist of features you should look for in a vendor that will ensure your needs are met.
First and foremost, look at how your prospective vendor does business. Does the vendor put your needs first? Does the vendor even know what your needs are? You need a vendor that is aware of the issues you face. Look for a company that is willing to conduct a thorough analysis of your network, and give expert recommendations on creating a complete monitoring solution.
Check whether the gear is guaranteed, the length and coverage of warranties, and the amount of client support offered after the sale. Ask if the vendor offers technical support, training, and maintenance.
Most importantly, look at how the vendor sees you. Are you treated like a sales prospect - or a partner? You need a vendor who will make a long-term commitment to supporting your network.
You don't face an easy choice in selecting a vendor, because no one company clearly dominates the industry. But even in this competitive market, some companies have established themselves more firmly than others. Ask your prospective vendor how long the company has been in business, how many clients they serve, and how much they have grown.
Always check for testimonials, and ask prospective vendors for references from their clients. Reputation, whether good or bad, tells volumes about a company. The vendor's other clients face the same problems and have to make the same decisions you do. A recommendation from a disinterested third party means more than any amount of advertising.
No two networks are exactly alike. The combination of variables is virtually unlimited. In most cases, an off-the-shelf monitoring solution will not meet all of your needs. Look for a vendor that has the engineering resources to develop a perfect-fit solution.
You're purchasing business-critical gear. You shouldn't have to pay for an unsatisfactory solution. Always look for a money-back guarantee for all gear and services. If the vendor doesn't have confidence in his product, neither should you.
A complete network monitoring solution consists of three layers: alarm collection, alarm transport, and alarm presentation. Without all three in place, your network monitoring solution is incomplete. Does your prospective vendor provide solutions for all three layers? If not, is the gear compatible with the other layers?
You shouldn't be expected to make a major business investment sight unseen. Before you buy, a vendor should present a complete proposal of your solution, including diagrams of the applications and an invoice of all gear needed. Getting it in writing is one of your best guarantees of getting the monitoring solution right for your needs.
Financial stability means more in the technology sector than ever before. You want to be sure you're dealing with a company that can continue to support you for years ahead. Consider the history and stability of your prospective vendor by asking these questions:
Are they VC funded? Companies that are supported by venture capitalist investment are not as dependable as privately-owned companies. If your vendor runs into trouble, VC backers may decide the company is a bad investment and shut him down.
Who runs the company? Is the shape and direction of your vendor company determined by an anonymous investor, or is it run by a small group of partners who built the company from the ground up? A company that has a cohesive direction and a deep commitment to the network monitoring industry will go the distance.
What are the design and manufacturing capabilities of the company? Who's really making the gear you buy? Is your vendor merely a design house that outsources the actual manufacture? If so, how can the vendor guarantee quality? A company that has complete engineering and manufacturing facilities is much better equipped to create a perfect-fit solution for your monitoring needs.
Does the vendor overcome your objections by slashing prices? Being too willing to offer a bargain is a warning sign that a vendor can't meet all your needs. Network monitoring is such a crucial capability. A network monitoring system that cannot fully protect your revenue-generating network is no bargain, no matter what the price.