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Inefficiency, wasted time and effort, stretched to capacity – even just reading these words gives most businesses a bad feeling. For most companies, a smoothly running IT infrastructure is a critical business requirement. Historically, only large companies felt it necessary to monitor bandwidth and availability in their IT infrastructure, but today, more mid-sized companies are using network monitoring solutions to support services such as email, websites, databases, or online shops.

Small businesses are central to the Australian economy, making up the majority of the country’s 2.14 million actively-trading registered businesses. Three in five Australian businesses are sole traders and don’t employ any staff, and only one in ten businesses employ more than 20 workers. The IT landscapes of these midsized organisations can be just as complex as those of large companies, just on a smaller scale. A good monitoring solution allows small teams to get on with managing the network and wider business, taking on the role of lookout for potential bottlenecks, failures and IT interruptions. Network monitoring tools free up time for admins, allowing time to be spent on other tasks, such as network upgrades and rollouts. So with small IT teams or even a single administrator or business owner leading the charge, how can Australia’s SMBs ensure they select the right monitoring tool for them?

Get up and running quickly: SMBs typically have fewer resources available to be able to test and implement monitoring applications compared to large organisations, which can typically dedicate an admin to the task. SMBs, therefore, need a monitoring solution that is simple to test and quick to deploy and manage. Tools that can be easily configured, with features such as auto discovery, can get businesses up and running in just a few minutes. Monitoring tools should have a “set and forget” capability, which once configured correctly, can run in the background and send alerts when issues are detected. This also means configuring the tool to only generate alerts when truly required instead of overrunning the admin’s inbox with unnecessary information.

Simplicity is key: Small or midsized businesses are also best suited for solutions that are easy to manage and require little customisation. This ensures that applications or software are not only simple to deploy, but also that another person can easily pick up the monitoring tool and understand the data it provides in the event of an employee leaving. Contemporary network monitoring solutions may also offer corresponding apps for mobile devices that enable users to confirm alarms or call up information using graphs and maps while on the go.

Avoid complicated licenses: When it comes to selecting the right IT tools, pricing is always an important factor. Even more critical, however, is avoiding potential cost traps. Many providers offer nontransparent licensing models with hidden costs. Systems that seem inexpensive at first glance might not have the ability to grow with your business. It’s important to look beyond the cost of basic installation and consider the potential costs of integrating new locations and devices as well as adding on new services. There should be a clear pricing model that allows for painless addition of extra monitoring scenarios or devices, without requiring additional funds.

Network monitoring plays an important role in keeping SMBs one step ahead of potential issues. The software constantly looks for issues before they have the opportunity to become major problems, allowing businesses to work more proactively. When an issue does occur, admins can quickly drill down to the root cause and develop a solution within seconds, instead of hours. This means more time to spend on developing new business solutions, instead of putting out fires.

About the author:

Andrew Timms, Sales Manager, Australasia, Paessler AG

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