[Case Study] Nextlink Takes Network Management to the Next Level with Opmantek

[Case Study] Nextlink Takes Network Management to the Next Level with Opmantek

This Case Study covers how we take organizations from reactive to proactive with the ability to scale and leverage more insights into the projects they’re working on. The following case study details actionable guidance that strengthened internet service provider Nextlink’s Network Management capabilities and took them to the next level. Download the asset below.

Key Points:

Who

Nextlink Internet is an internet service provider delivering high-speed internet and voice services throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Since 2012, Nextlink has become one of the largest wireless internet service providers in the nation. 

Challenge

Nextlink wanted to improve the stability of its automated provisioning system as well as its network. Nextlink’s previous monitoring system would send an alarm if one of the previously configured rules was triggered, but it didn’t provide the solution that they were looking for.

Situation

“Our fast-paced operations are growing every day, so we need something that can grow with us,” said Jordan Long, Director of Network Operations, Nextlink. “We wanted something that would not just assist with our operations center, but an automated solution that would monitor for issues throughout our platform, automate the troubleshooting tasks and make configuration changes when an alarm was raised. We also wanted a solution that could share data about our operations to drive new projects.”

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4 Best Practices For Automating Your Network Management

4 Best Practices For Automating Your Network Management

This excerpt comes from a blog originally posted on MSP Insights

Murphy’s Law states: “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” Equipment always breaks when you’re on vacation, often when the on-call engineer is as far away as possible, and with little useful information from the network management software (NMS).

 

It’s critical for a network to be available 100% of the time and always performing at 100%. Network management is a core component of IT infrastructure that is put in place to minimize disruptions, ensure high performance, and help businesses avoid security issues. Network architectures and networking products handle the brunt of the work, but management tools and technologies are essential for picking up the slack and allowing the shift from reactive to proactive strategies.

 

Network automation can automate repetitive tasks to improve efficiency and ensure consistency in network teams. Ultimately, automation will improve the meantime time to resolve (MTTR) and drive down the total cost of ownership (TCO). Network automation enables staff to gain process and configuration agility while maintaining compliance standards. It will help simplify your network and lower maintenance costs.

 

Save Time And Money With Automation

According to Gartner, “The undisputed number one cause of network outages is human error.” As humans, we all make mistakes, which is why businesses must have comprehensive automation in place. Automation can reduce the likelihood of issues being missed by ensuring consistency and reducing the need for tedious manual configuration. It also can save time, money and improve productivity. The following are four steps organizations can take to build a reliable and agile network through automation.

 

1. Implement Operation Process Automation (OPA)

OPA is about getting the right systems in place to automate repetitive operational tasks to improve efficiency and ensure consistency in operations teams. OPA delivers process automation specifically to IT and network operations teams. As well as emulating actions that network engineers take within a network management system, OPA also can perform advanced maintenance tasks, assist in the interpretation of network data, and communicate effectively with other digital systems to categorize, resolve, and escalate potential network issues. Ultimately, OPA is about improving the MTTR and decreasing the cost of operations.

 

2. Improve Configuration Management

When considering automation solutions to scale your business, a critical variable to consider is time saved through automation compared to the amount of time tasks take if performed manually. A significant amount of administration time is consumed managing configurations and firmware updates, which could be better spent on proactive tasks. Organizations looking to become more efficient should consider an automated network management tool that integrates configuration management to reduce the risk of human errors and enable easier implementation of network-wide changes. This concept is not new, and it is the fundamental basis of making impactful decisions on how your organization can scale.

 

3. Single View Multi-Vendor Support

Most networks are composed of elements from multiple manufacturers. This can create challenges when overseeing the elements of each management system. A better, more efficient approach is to find and deploy management tools that offer true multi-vendor support. This will reduce the number of tools needed for day-to-day tasks and eliminate the need for learning and maintaining multiple management tools, which will improve operational responsiveness and efficiency.

 

4. Policy-Based Management Systems

Many common network administration activities should be handled by the network management system automatically. These systems should not require repeated configuration but be configured through a policy that captures the business rules and ensures that devices are handled consistently. Automated device discovery and classification is another important aspect, automatically determining what the device is, what to monitor, and what type of alerts and events will be generated, all without human intervention.

 

Combining People And Process Automation

According to Forrester, 56% of global infrastructure technology decision-makers have implemented/are implementing or are expanding/upgrading their implementation of automation software. It’s important to note that automation does not mean the replacement of individuals. Instead, it can benefit IT workers, by transferring routine and tedious elements of managing networks to machine learning models that can reduce the noise from the vast number of alerts and notifications. For organizations that are looking to scale, a combination of people and process automation will yield the best results book a demo from our experts to learn more.

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How To Leave Work At 5 PM: Visibility, Event Management & Automation

How To Leave Work At 5 PM: Visibility, Event Management & Automation

This excerpt comes from a blog originally posted on Packetpushers.net

As organizations manage increasingly interdependent network infrastructure in an increasingly chaotic world, how can you, as a Network Operations professional, maintain control of your network without losing control of your time?

The answers are: network visibility, flexible event management, and powerful automation. All of this is possible within Opmantek’s network management platform. The software streamlines workflows and lets network engineers and operators accomplish more work with fewer distractions, allowing them to go home on time.

The Importance Of Visibility

We often hear from network engineers that they don’t know what devices are on the network or where they’re located. This lack of visibility introduces security risks and increases Mean Time To Recovery (MTTR). The ability to see as much of the network as possible on a single dashboard allows for fast response times when you and your team need them most.

The robust network visualization tools built into Opmantek’s opCharts and opEvents give you the ability to see a network and react in real-time to precisely what’s happening with confidence. That’s essential for daily operations and in emergencies. For example, did you know that storm-related outages cost the U.S. economy up to $55 billion every year? When a major storm like Hurricane Sandy blasts through your infrastructure overnight, you’ll be able to identify the points of failure and…READ ON.

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Packet Pushers: Detect, Diagnose, And Act Podcast

Packet Pushers: Detect, Diagnose, And Act Podcast


Podcast: Download (46.2MB)
Keith Sinclair, CTO and progenitor of NMIS, joins Greg Ferro on Packet Pushers

They discuss:

  • What NMIS does and how it works
  • Protocol support including SNMP, WMI, SSH, RESTful APIs, and more
  • The persistence of SNMP
  • Opmantek’s approach of detect, diagnose, and act
  • Automation capabilities
  • How NMIS uses dashboards, portals, and maps

How to Manage Complex Event Responses

How to Manage Complex Event Responses

Managing complex event responses can seem like an overwhelming task, but with the right automated network management software, the process is simpler than ever. Let’s take a look at how an automated system can help you manage complex event responses.

 

What is a Complex Adaptive System (CAS)?

Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) are made up of components (or agents) in a dynamic network of interactions that are designed to adapt and learn according to changing events. These interactions may be affected by other changes in the system and are non-linear and able to feed back on themselves. In the Australian healthcare system, for example, complex adaptive systems have been used to analyse systematic changes.

The overall behaviour of a CAS is not predicted by the behaviours of the agents individually. The past of CAS systems is partly responsible for their present behaviour and they are designed to evolve over time.

 

Event automation and remediation using opEvents

opEvents is an advanced fault management and operational automation system designed to make event management easier than ever. With opEvents, you can improve your business’s operational efficiency and decrease the workload of your staff by expanding on NMIS‘s efforts and improving automated response techniques using scientific methods.

opEvents elevates NMIS’s Notification, Escalation and Thresholding systems by blacklisting and whitelisting events, handling event flap, event storms and event correlation and supporting custom email templates for each of your contacts.

Basic event automation

In order to carry out event automation successfully, there are a few simple steps that you need to take:

1. Network management – identify the top network events you respond to frequently (daily, weekly, etc.)
2. List the steps you take – troubleshooting and remediating – when the issue occurs
3. Identify how these steps can be automated
4. Create an action to respond to the event

Let’s take a look at how opEvents handles events natively:

Event action policy

Event Action policy is a flexible mechanism that dictates how opEvents reacts when an event is created. The policy outlines the order of actions as well as what actions are executed by using nested if/then statements.

Event correlation

Setting event correlation helps reduce event storms inside opEvents. opEvents will use rules that are outlined to group events together and create a synthetic event that contains event information from all events that have been correlated.

Event escalation

opEvents allows for custom event escalations for unacknowledged events. You can set custom rules based on your business or customers.

Event scripts

Events can call scripts that can be used to carry out actions such as troubleshooting, integration or remediation.

Event deduplication

All events that are related to stateful entities are automatically checked against the recent history of events and the known previous state of this entity.

Developing a CAS system

In order to develop a CAS system, it’s essential to complete the following steps:

1. Identify an individual event
2. List the steps you take – troubleshooting and remediating – when the issue occurs
3. Decide what automated action(s) can and should be carried out (data collection, remediation)
4. Identify who needs to be contacted, when (working hours, after hours, weekends) and how (Email, text, service desk)
5. Decide what should happen over time if the event is not acknowledged (remains active)

 

If you would like to learn more about Opmantek’s event management services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team or request a demo.

5 Mistakes Evaluating NMS You Need To Avoid

5 Mistakes Evaluating NMS You Need To Avoid

So, your boss has just set up a blend of different software products or a SaaS product to take care of the network monitoring. Did your boss really do you a favour or just add to your headache? Has the situation truly improved, or do you just have more unresolved problems?

 

These are the five most common complaints we hear and solve on day one out of the box.

 

1. Too Many Alerts.

This is probably the most common problem with monitoring tools. Everything is turned on either out of the box or by the administrator’s choosing and organizations must rely on the logs to get the information they need. There is a fear of missing something but setting up alerts should be a thoughtful process, standardized amongst your team, and carefully chosen. Careful and well-considered Integrations with other tools like email, SMS, and ticketing systems are essential – but you can’t be inserting and sending out junk or it will be ignored.

 

2. The monitoring tool is indeed the resource hog and has a slow database.

Many popular monitoring tools are built on Microsoft technology using multiple on-premises servers. To scale, it usually takes building a replica of your multiple server setup and additional software licensing costs (Microsoft Server, SQL and the Monitoring Tool) every time you add a server. Then there’s the ongoing operational management of the multiple servers. With so much data constantly processed, the user experience is slow and poor.

 

3. One size does not fit all / no access to the API.

Many popular tools now are built in the cloud, and you do not own your data. Your data may be rolled up, removed, or you only have access to specific periods of your data. It is no good for longer-term trending or baseline troubleshooting. You need complete API access to your data to integrate it into your business operations.

 

4. Security.

Supply chain attacks are becoming more frequent. We all know what happened this year with many Telecommunications, Managed Service Providers, Internet Service Providers, the US Federal Government forced to turn off their monitoring tools. While patches were developed to work around the issue, the depth of what the hackers got is still not well understood. I feel for MSPs as their SLAs are destroyed. Hopefully, those force majeure clauses get interpreted favourably.

With an on-premise platform, you have to control it 100%. Complete control ensures that the product works within your security parameters.

 

5. Automation.

If you have installed many different tools, setting up some automation between them is extremely difficult. Furthermore, the automation breaks when you need to update or reconfigure one or more underlying applications for other reasons (e.g. Security). A SaaS solution may have various actions that they class as automation; however, they lack the flexibility you need for your environment.

 

Here at Opmantek, we have a strong belief that monitoring tools should be customizable. We believe this helps the overall flexibility, extensibility, scalability and security posture of your organization, ensuring that in the end, you get what you’re really after and that is less downtime!

 

Solve these five problems and more – > ask us how