Small company finds network monitoring service to fit its size

Small company finds network monitoring service to fit its size.

Amerivault Corp. makes its money as an online backup service for corporate data. If its network goes down, so does

its business.

Tom Perry, IT manager for the Waltham, Mass.-based storage provider, said nothing is more important to Amerivault's customers than the reliability of the company's network. "Because of our service-level agreements with customers, we need to have our systems monitored 24/7," he said.

When searching for a network monitoring service, Amerivault considered a few different options. Systems like HP's OpenView were too expensive and required too many staff people for his company's size, Perry said. With only 30 employees spread across three locations, Amerivault could not set up the network operations center that these systems required.

The initial start-up costs and the expensive hardware and software required also put these systems out of reach for the small company. For a while, Amerivault worked with the defunct NetWhistle, which provided an outsourced service. But it simply did ping tests to determine whether servers were responding. Perry said he was looking for a system that would provide a broader range of service.

A system that works on both sides of the firewall

Amerivault then looked at a number of outsourcing options that provided more detailed information than it was getting from NetWhistle. What it ended up with was a system from Waltham, Mass.-based performance monitoring service provider, Coradiant Inc. The company's system is primarily designed as a Web performance management tool. But it can work on both sides of the firewall, said Alistair Croll, Coradiant's chief strategy officer.

The system was simple to set up, Perry said. A probe was installed on Amerivault's network that enables Amerivault and Coradiant to monitor the network 24/7. "Other companies want to install software and equipment," Perry said. "That has more up-front costs and is a more invasive approach than we want."

There were only a few hurdles to getting the system up and running. Perry had to create a VPN tunnel in the firewall to get access to the probe and had to install some additional software to enable the system to work with Amerivault's Dell servers.

With the Coradiant system in place, Amerivault can now conduct ping and packet tests. It can monitor the servers. System administrators can monitor network traffic and throughput.

"Before we had Coradiant, our downtime was minimal; now it is even better," Perry said. Coradiant also provides 24-hour monitoring and troubleshooting. Now, Perry said, if there is a problem, he is paged the minute it happens, even if it's the middle of the night.

Third-party proof of performance

In addition, Coradiant has helped Amerivault bring in customers, Perry said. With the reports that the system provides, Amerivault has proof from a third party of how well its network is functioning.

That is one of Coradiant's strengths, Croll said. The system provides data that can be used by many different interests in a company. The marketing department can deliver SLAs with confidence, the engineering department can better maintain the network and the finance department can make better spending decisions, Croll said. Coradiant's OutSight Performance Network costs between $5,000 and $25,000 a month.

In addition to network monitoring, Croll said Coradiant uses the same product for monitoring Web performance, which constitutes a great deal of the company's business.

Andrew Schroepfer, president of the Minneapolis.-based research firm Tier 1 Research, said the type of service Coradiant provides is something that is necessary for any company that does business on the Web.

"To me, this is what allows you to have a successful Web presence," he said. "All Web companies depend on quick responses form applications. This pulls all of the elements together and allows you to see what went wrong."

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