How to Select the Right Network Telemetry System

Picking telemetry technology to monitor your network is very important - and most companies don't seem to recognize it. It's all too easy to ignore remote monitoring when you're busy rolling out new network sites and services.

Telemetry equipment is quite a bit like insurance. Most of the time, you think it's too expensive. When you have a problem and it's too late to react, you'd pay almost anything for it.

But you have to make the right choice. Not all telemetry gear is created equal.

Make no mistake. Your career will be strongly linked to the success or failure of a telemetry system you specify. This is a major purchase for any organization. You need to choose wisely.

In decades past, it was hard to know which to choose. Salespeople trying to sell you something had much more information than you did. Now, you can easily find reference information online like this guide:

Choosing a System: Where to start?

As with any project, you have to start educating yourself before you can select specific gear. Ironically, one decent way to do that is to sift through the product listings of specific gear. You will learn eventually, but that isn't the best approach. Different manufacturers use different trade names for the same things, which will only confuse you if you're just getting started.

It's almost always better to start with a general checklist that's manufacturer-independent. You have to establish your buying criteria before you look at specific hardware and software. Here's a checklist that will get you started:

Make sure your monitoring system supports these essential functions:

Select one of the following options to start evaluating network telemetry systems.

Essentials Checklist: Network Telemetry System

Network Telemetry System functions checklist

Here's a handy checklist of essential network telemetry system features that you should look for in your next system. Print this checklist out and use it to rate the systems you're evaluating. If a system can't meet these basic requirements, cross it off your list.

Critical alarm collection and device management functions

You can't effectively manage your network if your telemetry system can't talk to all of your equipment. Some companies are running two or more systems side-by-side to cover all of their gear. That is painful to watch. You should never deliberately run concurrent systems. Find something that is universally compatible. This includes both collection of alarms and issuance of control commands. Here are the keys to broad compatibility:

Alarm sorting and analysis functions

Your alarms must be organized to be effective. Beyond that, your telemetry system must translate individual clues into clear information you can use to take action. Here are specific functions that allow your system to handle alarms intelligently:

Key alarm presentation and notification functions

These functions revolve around showing you alarms when you're at your monitoring console and sending you notifications (email, SMS, etc.) when you're not. It's all about clarity and detail. You need to quickly determine whether an alarm requires action. Once you do, you need to know where the problem is, which technician to send, and what parts or info are required.

What happens if I don't follow this checklist exactly?

One or two minor deviations from this checklist probably won't cause a major debacle, but you certainly won't do yourself any favors. This list was designed to protect you no matter which telemetry manufacturer you choose. By following this list of functions closely, you're dramatically reducing the chance that something will go wrong.

And let's not kid ourselves here. Network telemetry solutions are a major infrastructure purchase. Your career will rise and fall with the success of the system you choose. Imagine the horror of having to scrap your first system and start over. That's an unforgivable waste of resources.

Where can I go to find equipment that does everything on that list?

You're not alone if you feel that way. Network telemetry is surprisingly complex. It has to monitor every major part of your complex network, though, so it could hardly be any other way.

This complexity is a big hint that you should choose a service-oriented manufacturer. You have a substantial project ahead of you, and buying commodities from a traditional vendor will make it very difficult. You need to work with an expert who cares about your success.

One great way to cut through the noise and find a good vendor is to choose one who is as vertically integrated as possible. Do they manufacture the equipment they sell? Do they provide their own tech support? These are strong clues that you're hiring a partner, not just buying from a vendor.

Your typical know-nothing vendor will simply be buying equipment from a distributor and trying to move it out the door as quickly as possible. You will have to be 100% of the brains for the project. The problem isn't that you don't have the brains for the job. You just don't have the time. You have a lot of other work to do. That's why you need an experienced vendor who will be your partner.

What if I need something special that wasn't mentioned on the checklist above?

Again, working with an expert who will listen to you is the key here. You can ask technical questions if you work with a company like that. They'll consider it with their wealth of experience, and give you a useful answer.

If you decide that you do, in fact, need that function, your vendor should be able to develop it for you. You might have to satisfy a reasonable minimum order (maybe 10-12 units or so) or pay a small development fee, but you shouldn't have to order thousands of units. You may have to submit a PO to get the process started, but be sure you're protected with a money-back guarantee.

Bob Berry - CEO, DPS Telecom, Network Telemetry System Specialist
"Every network telemetry system I make is backed by my no-risk, money-back guarantee. If you buy my equipment and you're not satisfied for any reason during the first 30 days, simply return it for a full refund. If my product doesn't solve your problem, I don't want you to have it."
- Bob Berry, CEO, DPS Telecom

This is just a checklist of basic monitoring functions. If you want to find a network telemetry system that meets and exceeds your requirements, select one of the options below...

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