What is our primary use case?
We have been using it to monitor our data center services, including servers, storage, and all our security appliances. We have a 24/7 NOC operating at our data center and they have been using Infraon IMS extensively for network and data center monitoring.
We also are using Everest Infraon Desk to manage our assets, our incident management system, and our ticketing system, and it's helping us to achieve our ITSM rules.
It's on our own private cloud.
How has it helped my organization?
We were using a lot of open source products to manage our ITSM. We didn't have asset management. We needed to have a network monitoring solution and we needed to have a system monitoring solution. We were using a lot of tools in our data center. That meant that our NOC and system guys had to maintain all these different kinds of devices, and maintaining those products was a headache. With Everest, we have a single, consolidated view of our system, our network, and even our ITSM requirements, like asset management, change management, and incident management. We are even using their ticketing system for our organization. It's been a great help for us in terms of managing our ITSM policies.
In addition, it has helped us to achieve our ISO certification targets for which we need to maintain all incident management and incident reporting. We can also find an SLA report for our appliance.
We have also tested the workflow management, to try to find dormant VMs, machines that haven't had any traffic or that are not being used by customers; or if there are any VMs that are using very high CPU or memory or choking our network bandwidth. We're also monitoring NetFlow to see the traffic behavior of the VMs: What kind of traffic have they been using? We're using these workflows and NetFlow monitoring tools to zero in on the VMs, if there are any infections going on or if there are any management activities going on that have been using our infrastructure.
What is most valuable?
What I really like about it are the details that it provides whenever we click an icon or any of the objects on the dashboard. We get a detailed description. We're running 200-plus VMs in our infrastructure. If I click on any of the symbols I can see detailed information about a VM: the traffic, the resources utilized by that VM, and whether the SLA is being met by that VM and the services. That is visible on the dashboard. It's just a few clicks and you get all the details as required.
There are role-based access policies defined for our employees. For example, at the L1 level, we define the policies that they can view and the devices they can access. They can only view them, they cannot edit. Our higher-level guys can edit, add devices, and they can create multiple dashboards as required. This is important because each person in our NOC or our data center has specific, targeted goals. Some of the network admins only require seeing network traffic utilization. Some will require port utilization. They may require specific ports and specific devices to monitor a single application.
For example, we have a database system and we need to monitor the underlying network infrastructure related to it, as well as the application related to it. We created a customized dashboard and handed it to the application custodian or database custodian of that system so that he can get an overview of the condition of all the infrastructure that he is using.
We have set a role-based access policy for network admins and network operators so they will only be monitoring VPNs, network device connectivity, and all the tunnels. We are connected with multiple internet service providers, so we can monitor which of them is using a lot of traffic and where the traffic is coming from.
The role-based dashboards provide data points and charts and topology diagrams in a single window. It's like a spider web, where the application, connectivity, and everything is defined for each user of those applications.
The granularity that Infraon IMS provides to us is really spectacular. If we see a VM in what may be an unhealthy state, we drill down and see what the issue is, whether it's a memory issue or a CPU issue, what time it was triggered, and how it was recovered. All these kinds of measurements are available via drill-down from an events list base.
In addition, the GUI is very interactive and customizable, because the dashboards are customizable. There are two parts to the GUI. One is the operation part where we can see reports and customize them. The other is the admin part where you can add devices. That has to be very quick because we are adding new devices every day, and it is very helpful. We are pretty satisfied with the GUI.
We were also amazed by the reporting capabilities. Previously, we were using open source monitoring systems, like Nagios and Cacti, and we were having a hard time with them. You need to customize each and every module and every parameter to generate an intuitive report view and a summarized query. So getting analytics or doing capacity planning was difficult. With Infraon IMS we're happy with the number of reports and the granularity. And its summarized view of the infrastructure helps us in planning.
What needs improvement?
In terms of improvements, I would like to see an integrated view of Infraon IMS and Infraon Desk. It would be very helpful if that were integrated into the solution.
In terms of additional functionality, a feature they may have but that I haven't been able to find is the ability for a manager to see all the tickets of his subordinates. It would be good if a manager could see every incident ticket, even those not assigned to him. That way, a manager could see every incident ticket that has been opened in the organization and assign them to individuals.
For how long have I used the solution?
We've been using Infraon IMS for more than six months.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I have not seen any hiccups since the deployment. There haven't been any issues.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
We have not scaled it that much, but per the information that I have, and from what we have seen in the infrastructure and system, increasing resources or trying to add modules is not too difficult. Because we were not previously using NetFlow monitoring, we added a small module for NetFlow monitoring, and the system was scaled out for the database sizing to retain the NetFlow sizes. It was straightforward.
Regarding expanding use of the solution, because we are providing services to our customers, we want to create a type of tenant-based model and sell it to our customers.
In addition, as of now we are only monitoring the infrastructure that we are handling, like data center services, meaning our infrastructure. We're planning to enhance it so that all our data center colocation customers can also have their own ITSM tools.
How are customer service and technical support?
As far as I know, the experience with their technical support has been very wonderful. Whenever we have had any queries, they have responded promptly. The technical guys are in touch with our project team all the time. Whenever they need any plugins or tweaks, they have been helped by the Everest technical team.
Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?
We were using open source tools, like Cacti and Nagios, and we were using another solution for our ticketing system. We decided to switch because there are limitations with open source. We had to have a dedicated team assigned to the open source solutions and that team had to manage the system. There was a lot to tweak with open source, per our organization's requirements.
We had Cacti for network monitoring to provide a graphical representation. For SLAs we needed to maintain a Nagios system where we had to add all our devices and network monitoring tools. We were also using a separate asset management tool which was not fully functional. It was a separate system and we needed to train our guys on multiple systems. It was a pain for the operation team, and the NOC team also had to look at different consoles and different solutions to find any compliance issues.
And the ticketing system also created a lot of impact, because previously we were using a plain vanilla ticketing system that was open source and not very feature-rich. It was just a basic ticketing system, and generating reports to get any analytics on incidents required a lot of manual work.
With Infraon IMS what we have found is a single pane of glass to view all our network monitoring requirements for our NOC system.
How was the initial setup?
The setup was pretty straightforward for our team because Everest sent a guy who helped us to develop the infrastructure and that helped a lot when it came to the initial deployment.
They required some VM cloud infrastructure information, like space and sizing. We had to prepare those machines before deploying the solution.
We had our guys trained on it within a week or so. They understand the architecture, as there are a lot of components built into this solution. There are databases, collectors, and some network connectors. But it's pretty easy to learn Infraon IMS because there aren't too many components that you need to set up.
Within a month or so our ticketing and NMS were already deployed.
As of now, our whole NOC team of 10 to 15 guys is using the solution. Our system team, which has about another eight people, is also using it, as are the executives to generate asset, compliance, and SLA reports.
What about the implementation team?
We assigned two of our staff to the deployment, one from the network team and one from the system team, and the Everest guys were aligned with that. They helped our team to get it deployed and, in the next month, we rolled it out to production.
What was our ROI?
We have not done an ROI calculation yet, but I'm seeing a lot of impact as a result of the deployment of this infrastructure, with our guys needing less time to manage the NMS solution itself. We have a technical pool that manages our system and the operations of the data center. When they need to spend all their time managing the NMS system, we're losing all that time. Now, they don't need to focus on the management tools. They can monitor another customer and do other work. It's saving a lot of time for them, something like 20 to 30 percent of their time.
We had a lot of tools and products in the data centers and we were getting bogged down. All these solutions required resources and our guys needed to be trained on them. Whenever someone would leave, we needed to train the newer guy. It was creating a lot of havoc.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
The pricing is reasonable, given the features that they provide. There have not been any additional costs beyond the standard fees.
Which other solutions did I evaluate?
We looked into ManageEngine, PRTG, and other tools. But for our infrastructure and our scale, we required something that could be scaled out and something that was customizable. We also needed something to provide us with ITSM tools, a help desk with workflow and a ticketing system.
We also evaluated Zabbix about a year and a half ago but the deployment cost was very high. It was going to take more than two months to deploy. Our guys were not so aligned with or trained on Zabbix. They would find it very difficult to manage all the plugins. So we opted not to go with open source.
With Infraon, we get a one-stop view of all infrastructure and every ITSM requirement that we have, from a single vendor and solution. It had good reviews in the international market also. We came across it because we had proposed it to one of our customers and we saw that the customer was very happy. While managing the system, we found that it is a very helpful tool.
What other advice do I have?
We don't use Infraon IMS to automatically trigger processes to help resolve issues when it detects compliance violations, but we have triggered reports. We don't want any automation as of now, so we are only using manual intervention to take any actions. We need to be sure about our workflows. Once the actions are tried and tested then we will put in the automation.
The biggest lesson I have learned is around the consolidation of all our NOC and ITSM requirements in a single solution. We were only looking for an NMS solution, but they provided us with a workflow, automation, a ticketing system, and an incident management system. It has been a revelation for us.
Overall, it's a wonderful one-stop ITSM solution for infrastructure.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?