Why you should automate network monitoring

Brien Posey

For decades, conventional wisdom has told IT shops to do whatever they can to minimize the helpdesk calls. The basic idea behind this philosophy is that there are costs associated with every helpdesk call, and minimizing helpdesk calls translates directly to reduced cost. Although the actual cost of a helpdesk call varies considerably from one organization to the next, they are commonly estimated to have an average cost of somewhere between $30 and $40 each. These costs are most often associated with lost productivity.

234411550In recent years, much of the effort around reducing the volume of helpdesk calls has centered around providing users with self-help capabilities. For example, many organizations now allow users to reset their own passwords. Although such features can conceivably reduce helpdesk call volume, self-help features do nothing to address the problem of helpdesk calls resulting from endpoint malfunctions.

Historically, IT’s response to endpoint malfunctions has been purely reactionary. A user is unlikely, for example, to report a hard disk problem until after the hard disk fails. At that point, the end user is unable to do their job and the helpdesk must immediately diagnose and correct the problem so that the user is able to get back to work.

In some ways, this approach seems antiquated. After all, mechanisms for assessing hardware health have existed for many years. It has not been until more recently, however, that leveraging endpoint health information has become practical for helpdesk environments.

It is clearly in an organization’s best interest to engage in endpoint health monitoring. Doing so offers a few different benefits to the organization. The most obvious of these being that it allows the helpdesk staff to move away from the reactionary response model, while also reducing endpoint outages.

Imagine, for example, that a user’s PC was able to report a hard disk fault to the helpdesk before the hard disk actually failed. Rather than the end-user suffering an outage, the hard disk replacement could be scheduled for a time that is convenient for both the user and for the helpdesk staff. This approach could conceivably prevent the loss of productivity that normally follows a hard disk crash, and may also prevent data loss. Furthermore, it allows the helpdesk to function more efficiently because hardware repairs can be scheduled as opposed to having to be addressed immediately.

Another benefit to helpdesk hardware monitoring is that it allows an organization to spend its IT capex budget more wisely. Monitoring software may be able to collect hardware inventory and/or performance information. That information can then be used to determine which users would most benefit from hardware upgrades. In doing so, the organization is able to ensure that the money spent on endpoint hardware is used in the most effective way possible.

As your organization searches for endpoint monitoring solutions, your goal should be to look for a solution that has the potential to make hardware issues much less disruptive for the helpdesk staff and for the end-users that they serve. A good monitoring solution should allow the helpdesk to transition from a reactionary response model to a model in which the majority of hardware issues are dealt with preemptively, before an outage can occur.