Opmantek Team Easter Update

Opmantek Team Easter Update

It’s been several weeks since Easter. I thought it would be good to share some insight through a thread that we had going inside the company about what was changing and our observations.

These are our stories from around the globe from the first 100 days.

Australia – Gold Coast

Gold Coast Arial - 700

Dogs are the winners

I think that the dogs are the true winners. Where I live in Miami (QLD) I see lots of dogs being walked all the time. There are only a few reasons why we are allowed to leave our houses and exercise is one of them. So you can walk your dog. I try walk my dog with my family every day. My daughter and I take Clover to the dog park in the mornings, so they can both have a bit of a run around.

clover-Adam

All the best,

 

Adam (and Clover)

(Miami, QLD, Australia)

United States – Boston

Boston - 700

I have observed that neighbors and friends are keeping in touch more often all be it remotely.  Checking in on each other and sincerely asking, how are you keeping through all this?  Also, staying home has brought my daughter and I to spending more time cooking, walking on the beach and yes even cleaning the house (which was not the case before Covid:).  We have a black cat named Mr. Poe and spend quality time with our target light laughing while watching him chasing it all over the house.  Sharing small joys while under restriction.

 

Happy Easter Everyone!

 

Leslie

(Boston, USA)

United States – San Francisco, Marin County

San Francisco - 700

I’ve been spending time with my kiddos involved in lots of sports, working and getting ready for college (add to that my daily schedule) and things have been moving too fast for too many years. To Leslie’s points, lots of cooking, talking and catching up have all made for a welcomed slowing down for us.

Our dog has also had a lot of attention during the isolation period:

craigs-dog

All the best to The Team this Easter Weekend!

 

Craig

(Marin County, CA, USA)

United States – North Carolina

North Carolina - 700

For us we’ve had a couple big changes. During the first week of the “stay at home” mandate one of our local animal shelters reached out to my wife and I and asked if we had room in our home to help one (or more) puppies that had been abandoned at the county animal control and were slated for euthanization that weekend.

Welcome Maggie, a 5lb black lab and who-knows-what that was the runt of a litter of 11 puppies, 4 of which had passed away within days of being left with animal control. North Mech Animal Rescue took up the remaining 7 and put out a call to previous foster and adoptive parents. Maggie joins a pack with a 3-year old golden retriever, 2-year old black lab (Maggie and Sammy are in the phot below on the right), 6 cats, and a menagerie of kids, spouses, significant others, and grandkids. As soon as she completes her puppy shots and rabies vaccine we’ll be taking her on walks at the park with the other dogs.

The second shake-up in our otherwise normal routine was the decision to add in some raised bed gardens in the backyard. Originally, it was going to be just a couple rows with some simple stuff. However, it’s already doubled in size from what you see here and we’re growing everything from beans to rutabagas

(Yes – I had to look that up too! TURNIPS)

and everything in between. I am still working to figure out how to grow toilet paper and hand sanitizer – if anyone has seeds for these please send my way. While it has only been a little over a week since we planted the first seeds, everything is up and growing and looking healthy.

 

Mark

(North Carolina, USA)

Australia – Brisbane

Brisbane - 700

I have observed so much in the last four days, a few highlights would be:

The air seems to be cleaner (view of Brisbane CBD from Mt Gravatt), taken while recovering from the ride up.  Looking South I could see the Gold Coast skyline as well (80km away, that is not normal).

Our House is appreciating the attention, having rehung all the art in our bedroom including finally putting up this beautiful piece, created by ArtiSue, https://www.artisue.com.au/, also been getting through many other tasks, including fixing fences, making big red buttons work and voice activated television.  However the Cat is a little confused with all of us home all the time interrupting his sleep.

 

The arts and sports are really having a hard time, being a keen cyclist I have seen the pros doing what they can to stay in shape and are competing online using Zwift and the other sports startups with online racing (is that e-sports?).  The top level pros will be ok, but what about all the up and coming professionals, I am guessing they are not getting paid.

 

Really sadly the Paris Roubaix which is a famous and long running race in the Spring Classic series has been postponed, previously only wars have caused it to be cancelled.

 

Out of sports loss, comes art, Graham Watson https://www.grahamwatson.com a famous sports photographer, created this collage of his favourite Paris-Roubaix photos (won by a few Aussies), an amazing piece of work.

 

Keith

(Brisbane, QLD, Australia)

Australia – Gold Coast

Gold Coast Arial 2 - 700

It has definitely been a major change of perspective for me and a reevaluation of my priorities.

One major factor has been the friendship community that I have and the reliance I have on them and they have on everyone, we have made sure we have at least one zoom catch up a week where we have a beer/wine, talk recipes and also pass along new stories from the week;

 

The transition with working from home has been tough in a small apartment with two other people, but it has been successful. I built a desk and a screen mount, rather than buying one, because I have the time to do so;

But there is always a need for a second office and it is great to be outside a lot more;

Health and fitness is important to me as well, my gym has transitioned to online training with zoom, it has worked surprisingly well too, the environment is different, but the community spirit is still fantastic.

All in all, it has been a transition, but I feel that there has been some new connections with people I wouldn’t normally have, I am enjoying how everyone is discovering hobbies they never had time to try and I really like seeing everyone working together on this. I am lucky to be here, with Opmantek and most of all, living in such a wonderful place;

 

Dan

(Mermaid Beach, QLD, Australia)

Australia – Melbourne

Melbourne - 700

The main thing I’ve noticed is the number of people out simply taking a stroll at different times of the day.

And complete strangers simply saying HELLO randomly everywhere.

We were due to go camping this easter weekend. SO we went camping – in the backyard.

 

Nick

Melbourne, Vic, Australia

Australia – Gold Coast

Burleigh Heads - 700

With my twins in lock down in London and Mermaid Beach, we have been helping my London girl with an ‘emoji guess the movie challenge’.

memes

So far we have answered 22 from 25.   We are missing answers for 10,16 and 25.   All help appreciated .

Also happy to provide you with the answers we have once you have burnt out trying to get them.

 

Graham,

Gold Coast, Qld, Australia

Australia – Brisbane

Brisbane 2 - 700

We couldn’t go on our camping trip with eight other families, but…I wore my camping shirt, we burnt a mozzie coil, we ate slow cooked meat, we drank beer & rum and we had an outdoor fire. Zoom got a workout with multiple families tuning in for “happy hour”.

I guess that’s as close as we’re gonna get this year. It has made us and our group of close friends appreciate how easy we normally have things. We have made a group resolution to get out more when this is over.

 

What we would rather have been doing…

Mark

(Brisbane, QLD, Australia)

Spain – The Island of Tenerife

Spain - 700

An update from Spain. I live in a small village in the island of Tenerife. After 5 weeks in lockdown, it is a bit exhausting sometimes, but I feel very lucky to have a job that I enjoy, an outdoor space, where I can have some chickens – I’ve never though they could be so funny -, the cat (and me) can run and my partner can grow some fresh vegetables (we are starting with tomatoes).

I’ve just discovered that the chickens are better hunters than my cat . They love lizards.

Routines have changed. I’ve changed the gym for new exercises routines, I’m learning new recipes – they say the yeast is the new gold in these times – the beers with friends are now online, and every day at 19.00 we have an appointment in the windows and balconies to clap for some minutes for the sanitarians.

The lockdown is quite strict. We are only allowed to go out for buying some food, go to work – only the ones allowed, as sanitarians – or emergencies. The police and militaries are watching the streets, penalties are applied. The future is still very uncertain, but is time to be positive, and learn new things! To appreciate what we have, and to appreciate that our family is healthy.

Also, the weather has changed. The pollution is much lower, – We had the biggest drought this year – but now, it is raining almost every day. The earth is breathing.

 

Josune

(The island of Tenerife, Spain)

Mexico – Mexico City

Mexico - 700

I hope you and your families are doing fine, even though these days have been difficult, it is very important that we learn to adapt and take advantage of the situation.

Sergio-dog

Currently the security measures are very strict and we can only go out for basic things.

My routine has changed a lot, here at home I have tried to keep exercising and it has been much more comfortable to exercise from home.

Dogs are happy to keep me at home all day, although sometimes they also require their own space.

Sergio's Dog - 700

I think the best thing we can do for now is to stay safe and try to take things positively, greetings to all!

 

Saludos Cordiales,

 

Sergio,

(Mexico City, Mexico)

How to set-up the whole family to work and learn online from home

How to set-up the whole family to work and learn online from home

The world is changing in many ways as the global Covid-19 pandemic upends the way we live, learn and work. We have lots of adults and children now working or schooling from home and using video conferencing and other collaboration tools to do so. For some, this may be an easy adjustment, but for most, the transition to remote working is challenging.

In this post, we will discuss how to deal with multi-users in a home environment operating on lower bandwidth (5MB to 20MB).

Collaboration and learning tools

The sudden rise of remote working and education from home has caused the popularity of learning and collaboration tools to explode. Video conferencing software Zoom’s share price has more than doubled in the past month, and Microsoft’s cloud computing SaaS Azure and collaboration tool Teams has seen an astonishing 784% rise in use!

However, the challenge at home is when your family connects several desktops, laptops and phones on one network, making it difficult for Mum to make that all-important video conferencing call. With Dad streaming Netflix, daughter Jess studying her next curriculum online, and little Danny uploading his TikTok masterpiece, and you might soon have some Wi-fi wars breaking out in the homestead, which is the last thing we need right now!

The answer here is to downturn all these applications by changing their bandwidth use and quality. As a result, you will improve your quality of service (QOS).

What is QOS?

Quality of Service is an excellent, and often unknown, tool that allows you to train your router to distribute your available bandwidth between applications. With smart QoS rules, mum’s Zoom conferencing video call won’t stutter while Jess uploads her assignment online. However, managing QOS on routers can be technically hard. For the not-so-tech-savvy, adjusting the bandwidth use and quality on the applications themselves may be a more straightforward solution.

For example, Zoom video conferencing allows you to adjust the priority for Zoom traffic on their network (Source). Likewise, streaming platforms such as Netflix also have the option to adjust your data usage settings by following the steps here. Ultimately, most applications will allow you to down-turn use and quality to determine which takes priority for the home user.

If you find yourself having trouble keeping the whole family connected and happy, check out your application settings and adjust their bandwidth.

How RMM Solutions Can Prepare Enterprise Teleworkers For COVID-19

How RMM Solutions Can Prepare Enterprise Teleworkers For COVID-19

COVID-19 has caused a wide range of employers to reassess their workplace arrangements. More workers than ever before are being asked to ‘telework’ but many don’t have experience in this kind of work or don’t really understand what it means. Basically, teleworking doesn’t just relate to using the telephone. It is a remote style of work from home that utilises automation solutions, internet, telephone, and email resources. Now, most workplaces are trying to quickly adapt to teleworking arrangements, and there are many RMM solutions that can prepare enterprise teleworkers for the realities of COVID-19.

 

If we cast our minds back, in 2018, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 24 per cent of USA employees did some or all of their work from home. This figure was slightly higher in Australia, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting around 30% of Australians telecommuting for at least part of their working week. In light of the global pandemic, now almost all workers who are still able to work are being asked to work from home.

 

Harvard epidemiologist William Hanage recently said that “everyone who can work from home should work from home”, and workplaces are undertaking rapid workforce planning to make this happen. Scalability and flexibility are key during these uncertain times, as no one is certain how long these measures are likely to last, and whether businesses might be expected to take their entire operations online for extended periods.

 

That’s where RMM solutions come in. RMM (Remote Monitoring and Management) software is a kind of software that has been designed to assist in managing IT services remotely. Basically, this means a computer or network can be managed from a remote location by installing software and monitoring or managing activities over a secure network. As COVID-19 continues to place strain and insecurity on global markets, it is important to understand how RMM can prepare employers for what is ahead.

 

Scalability and Control

An SaaS-based RMM system will give scalability and control as organisations’ working conditions change under COVID-19. Under this kind of system, management configuration can be adjusted as the size of the network increases. That means if the number of remote workers increases, the network will able to cope and teleworkers won’t be subject to unnecessary interruptions. Software like Opmantek is deployed either from the cloud or on-premises, but ownership of the database and control over its architecture remains with the client. So even if the situation worsens and network strain increases, adjustments can be made and the quality will remain stable.

 

Flexibility of Integration

Right now, few of us know what will be happening tomorrow, let alone in the coming months. RMM software gives flexibility in integration so that not everything within the network environment needs to be replaced at once. Network environmental diversity is possible and allows for a gradual rollout of teleworking within an organisation with a range of integration options and support.

 

Unlimited Scalability

Switching to an RMM system will mean that teleworkers will not only be prepared for COVID-19, but for the inevitable digitally connected future ahead. Many organisations will likely find teleworking to be favourable to their business once implemented, and an added bonus of software for MSPs (managed service providers) securing unlimited scalability. The number of connected devices is undoubtedly going to increase in the near future for most businesses, so the ability to grow and scale to meet operational needs is imperative.

 

It’s clear RMM has unlimited potential for assisting teleworkers to adapt their working habits and should be part of any remote workforce strategy. To better secure the success and increase the readiness of your business’s operations during these unprecedented times try Opmantek’s RMM solutions.

Why networks are essential for real-time healthcare

Why networks are essential for real-time healthcare

Many healthcare providers have begun to transition to a highly connected, patient-driven, real-time healthcare system (RTHS). Such systems typically combine digital and cloud technologies allowing healthcare professionals and patients to communicate, collaborate and streamline their workflows more effectively.

But as providers roll-out new data-intensive applications capable of connecting multiple sites and devices, more strain is placed on already congested networks. If left unchecked this can lead to many challenges which can undermine the reliability and effectiveness of real-time healthcare systems.

 

What challenges do today’s healthcare providers face?

Network reliability – Healthcare professionals need to access Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and critical real-time data wherever they are on site. Many legacy systems are simply not capable of providing reliable access to the volume of data today’s real-time healthcare systems demand.

Quality of Service (QoS) – Healthcare providers have unique requirements when it comes to implementing QoS. Different applications, data and services must be prioritised according to their importance. To do this effectively organisations need the ability to differentiate and prioritise data in real-time.

Security – The confidentiality and security of patient data is paramount, but with the accelerated adoption of public and private cloud technologies come increased network and data security risks. Healthcare providers need the ability to monitor users if they are to manage the risks effectively.

Scalability – As more medical devices and applications are connected to the network, the more data needs to be transmitted between them. This creates issues for legacy network equipment which is already struggling to cope with the volume of data being transmitted.

If the efficiency and productivity benefits of RTHS are to be realised, healthcare organisations need to ensure the above challenges are met without compromising patient confidentiality and the ability to effectively monitor healthcare systems.

 

Solving today’s healthcare system challenges

There are several measures healthcare providers can take to help overcome these challenges. The most important thing is to make sure the network is designed properly from the ground up. Secure private WANs should be created to connect major healthcare sites and hospitals, with smaller sites.

Larger sites should also look at implementing private/hybrid services leveraging the existing network infrastructure with new cloud networking technologies. This can help create a more agile and cost-effective solutions without compromising the control or security of the network.

 

Intelligent network management software

But network infrastructure is only part of the solution. Organisations should also look at implementing robust and integrated network management software to manage and monitor the network in real-time. Such systems should be capable of monitoring infrastructure at scale and providing active data management to prevent outages, reduce bottlenecks and maintain QoS.

By implementing a solution such as Opmantek’s Network Management Information System (NMIS), network admins get real-time information about the current state of the network infrastructure and the data transmitted on it. Information about the health of specific devices can then be relayed to engineers allowing them to see precisely what impact a single device failure is having on the wider network.

But NMIS goes much further than basic monitoring. With automated health live baselining, the software can monitor the availability and response time of devices and compare that with a previous baseline period. This gives network admins early warning of impending failures allowing them to fix issues before they impact network performance.

 

Distributed poling for easy scalability

As with the underlying network infrastructure, any network monitoring solution deployed should also be capable of scaling to meet the demands of an ever-expanding number of devices. With more on-demand services and internet of medical things, (IoMT) devices and the number of nodes on the network is  increasing. So, any network monitoring solution deployed must be capable of seamless scalability.

To prevent such issues Opmantek’s opHA with NMIS uses distributed polling, this allows for infinite scaling while also adhering to stricter security policies that may be in place. Using distributed polling allows network admins to move from monitoring single devices to gaining a full picture of the entire network infrastructure on a single pane of glass.

Opmantek software is also designed to be a plug-and-play solution, in normal networks no configuration changes are required after the initial setup. The software currently supports more than 30,000 vendors with new devices automatically identified and added to the system without the need for coding.

Harnessing network efficiency across hospitals, clinics, data-centers and offsite facilities is crucial for the healthcare system to transition into a real-time model. By leveraging network management solutions like Opmantek, your organisation gain agility and flexibility without having to glue together monitoring systems. In providing the opportunity for clinicians and healthcare administrators to gain greater visibility into their operations and resources, they will be better equipped to improve patient care quality – do more with your data.

Understanding the NMIS KPI interface

Understanding the NMIS KPI interface

What is a KPI and why is it relevant it for network monitoring?

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were introduced into NMIS to provide insight as to why the health of a node was getting better or worse.  As discussed in the article on NMIS Metrics, Reachability, Availability and Health, NMIS is tracking the health of a node and providing a single number which indicates what the health of a node is, this is called the Health Metric.  To make up the Health Metric, NMIS is tracking many aspects of a node’s health including:

  • Reachability – Node availability or pingability
  • Availability – Interface availability
  • Response time
  • CPU Utilisation
  • Memory Utilisation
  • Interface Utilisation
  • Disk Utilisation
  • Swap Utilisation

NOTE: Not all nodes have disk and swap, so for some nodes these values are blank, e.g. a Cisco Router will have no value for disk and swap KPI’s.

NMIS has a history of being a Network Management System, the generation of the Metrics and KPI’s is something that makes NMIS more than a Network Monitoring System and helps IT professionals by providing better information about their environment to help with their decisions. By giving users more information about devices, troubleshooting or improving the health of devices is much easier, this can even be extended further by adding opTrend, which gives metrics using machine learning to build time-based device expectations.

As of NMIS 8.5G, we started storing the individual KPI scores so that it was possible to see the health metric break down over time.  This is now shown at the top of a node view panel in NMIS8 and looks like the image below.

NMIS KPI - 600

KPI Scores

You can think of the KPI Scores like a report card, the student (node) has received 10/10 for English (reachability), 10/10 for Maths (availability) and so on. The KPI Scores in the screenshot above come from the polled data and are scored out of the weighted value, this weighted value is a percentage, so in the configuration file, it is 0.1 which means it is 10% or a maximum possible KPI score of 10/10.  The table below shows the configuration value and the resulting KPI Score value.

KPI Item Configuration Item Configured Weighting Maximum KPI Score
Reachability weight_reachability 0.1 10 (10%)
Availability weight_availability 0.1 10 (10%)
Response weight_response 0.2 20 (20%)
CPU weight_cpu 0.2 20 (20%)
Memory weight_mem 0.1 10 (10%)
Interface weight_int 0.3 30 (30%)

Because they are not present in all node types, there are two additional KPI values which overload onto the Memory and Interface KPI values these are, Swap and Disk, these split the weighting of each into half and track that separately, e.g. Interface KPI by default is 30%, so when the Disk KPI is present the Interface KPI gets a value of 15% and the Disk KPI gets a value of 15%.  So the table would like like this when all 8 KPI’s are present, as they are for Linux Servers.

KPI Item Configuration Item Configured Weighting Maximum KPI Score
Reachability weight_reachability 0.1 10 (10%)
Availability weight_availability 0.1 10 (10%)
Response weight_response 0.2 20 (20%)
CPU weight_cpu 0.2 20 (20%)
Memory weight_mem 0.1 x 50% 5 (5%)
Swap weight_mem 0.1 x 50% 5 (5%)
Interface weight_int 0.3 x 50% 15 (15%)
Disk weight_int 0.3 x 50% 15 (15%)

The result is that all the maximum KPI Score for a node will be 100 or 100%.

Interpreting Health and KPI Values

So you are looking at the main NMIS dashboard and you see that a node has a Health score of 92.2% as the example below, there is also a red arrow beside that, which is the result of the longstanding NMIS feature for auto baselining, this red arrow is pointing down, meaning that the health now is lower than the last period. So WHY is this node less healthy now than it was before, clicking on the node will reveal the KPI scores and you can start looking at what is changing.

NMIS KPI Group View - 700
You see this KPI summary again, you can see the overall breakdown of the health metric represented in the KPI values and you can see that the MEM KPI has a red arrow pointing down, the auto baselining is showing us that the Memory score is lower than previously with a score of 2.04 out of a possible score of 5.  If we look at the graph for the last 2 days, we can see that the average value for the MEM KPI is 2.28%, showing us that the memory utilisation has increased a little.
NMIS KPI Markup - 600
If you want to know WHY the health from the front page is 92.2% we can look at all the KPI values, like the Disk KPI of 10.50/15, CPU KPI is 19.98/20 and SWAP KPI is 4.75/5, we can take 100% and subtract the remainders so:
KPI Item KPI Score/b> Remainder Calculation Health Remainders
Reachability 10/10 10 – 10 0
Availability 10/10 10 – 10 0
Response 20/20 20 – 20 0
CPU 19.98/20 20 + 19.98 0.02
Memory 2.04/5 5 + 2.04 2.96
Swap 4.75/5 5 + 4.75 0.25
Interface 15/15 15 – 15 0
Disk 10.5/15 15 – 10.5 4.5

Adding together the Health Reduction results and subtracting from 100 gives us: 100 – (0.02 + 2.96 + 0.25 + 4.5) = 92.27%

The difference between the result and the displayed numbers are rounding precision.

Advanced Concepts

Analyzing this data will provide you with a lot of insight into your network behaviour. The metrics are designed to compare periods and work out if the current period (default 8 hours) is performing better or worse than the previous periods. We are comparing apples to apples in this scenario, but there is still deeper analysis that can be performed.

Benjamin Wong Apples - 650
opTrend is a commercial module that can add a deeper layer of trending analytics to what NMIS offers, it will use 6 months worth of data to build a baseline, that is a true representation of a device, factoring into account the time of day and also the day of the week. This builds an accurate snapshot of what your system should be doing at a given time and assists in identifying outliers that aren’t considered normal.
opTrend Analysis - 700

The graph above demonstrates the power of the application; the blue lines are the expected ranges, the green is the overall mean, and the black is the recorded value. The graph indicates that on December 6th, the system was in heavy use, but it was expected and not considered an outlier, this may be due to a scheduled system back-up for instance. However, from December 9-13 there was a significant increase that is not regarded as normal and would need to be investigated.