Unless you’ve been living on a remote island for the past decade, you’ll probably know that it’s that time of year again where the entire world loses its collective mind over the silly season’s sales, once-off offers and special deals. Every year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday seem to attract another few thousand shoppers, all desperate to beat – often literally – their competition to the checkout with as much stuff under their arms as possible. Whether you’re the kind of person who books a leave day months in advance to make sure you get to capitalize on Black Friday deals or your gut reaction is to barricade yourself into your home at the thought, it’s inescapably true that Black Friday is a grisly business. If you need reminding of just how wanton it can be, just look at this catalog of the worst injuries and deaths resulting from Black Friday.
However, the rotten core of Black Friday isn’t a syndrome confined to the world of retail – it’s symptomatic of a much larger malaise within modern business: the idea that dropping the price of products or services low enough, no matter how poor it may be, automatically gives it value. In this blog, we’ll look at how this principle applies to the world of Network Management, and how to make sure that you aren’t using a Network Management System that has more in common with Black Friday than you’d like to think.
Sometimes, even in the age of the internet, things might be too good to be true.
For all the paranoia that came with the early days of the internet, it seems that we’ve lapsed into complacency in the past few years. That might be changing with the recent spate of high-profile hacks appearing in the media, but the average internet user is as vulnerable as ever to being fooled into the ‘cheaper-is-better’ trap. Additionally, the increasing popularity of Open Source Software means it’s easier for free junkware to masquerade as valuable products. Part of this comes down to the fact that the internet is a lot like being a child in a four-storey candy shop: there’s just so much out there that we end up paralyzed with indecision about which Network Management System to opt for, and end up taking the cheapest looking one as a compromise. If there’s one saying that rings true of the internet, it’s that some things are just too good to be true.
Your Network Management System might be more like Black Friday than you think.
It’s true that some Network Management Systems are better than others, and it’s also true that the price-point of an NMS isn’t necessarily indicative of its quality. However, unless you’re an active member of the Open Source community of the software you’re using, what you pay for is usually what you get. If your Network Management System promises the world but never seems to deliver, you might be a victim of the Network Engineering equivalent of snake oil. Remember, it’s not just the software itself that you’re paying for – there are a number of other features you should consider when looking at the offerings and price of your Network Management System. Firstly, consider the kind of support you’ll get from your NMS. If you’re going for a dirt-cheap solution that promises all the bells and whistles of best-of-breed NMS, you’re going to end up paying in one way or another – usually in the sense that you’ll be left totally in the dark when things go awry on your network.
How to make sure you don’t fall for a Black Friday deal when shopping for an NMS.
There are a few rules of thumb when it comes to shopping for Network Management System deals online – most of them are simple common sense, but they’re worth bearing in mind:
- Test the waters before you make your choice
There are more than enough Open Source Network Management Systems that are more than worth checking out, but make sure you do your homework on which ones will suit your environment best. There are also many proprietary Network Management System packages that offer free trial periods – if you’ve exhausted all your options for Open Source software but you’re not comfortable trying paid software, this is a good option.
- Read forums, reviews, social media pages and online networking resources
There are many portals for discussing Network Management Systems and their pros and cons. I’d recommend finding a few websites that you find useful and returning to them often for news and opinions. If you’re looking for reviews and feature presentations of some of the better-known Network Management Systems, there’s also an abundance of information on video streaming sites like YouTube.
- Don’t judge a book by its cover.
As any long-term Linux user will know, good looks aren’t always indicative of good features. Granted, the software you choose needs to be coherent enough to tell you what’s happening in your environment, but the best Network Management Systems aren’t always the ones with the friendliest interfaces – make sure you check everything out to make sure you aren’t missing a hidden gem.
To find out more about IRIS Networking Systems and our unique Network Management System, download our free Network Manager’s Guide to a Stable and Highly Available Network.