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Web Informant
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David Strom is a networking and communications consultant based in Port Washington, NY. Along with Marshall Rose, he co-authored
Internet Messaging: From the Desktop to the Enterprise (Prentice Hall).

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Check out these past articles by David Strom hand-picked by the staff at Mappa Mundi.

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» Making Beautiful Music on Your PC
» The coming broadband congestion
» I’ve Been Hacked
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By David Strom, Web Informant Archives »
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Using CNN for network management

Web Informant #167, 7 September 1999

      The best way to keep your web site up and running reliably may not be to invest in lots of fancy network management tools, load balancing products, and other web switch gear. Instead, how about using CNN? Lest you think this is some new computing acronym, I am talking about the 24-hour cable news channel.

      I got the idea from Carol Sliwa’s article in Computerworld last week talking about network reliability. In the piece, she interviews the folks who run eSchwab. One of the Schwab execs mentions how “The press is happy to call me whenever I have a problem.”

      When you start to thinking about it, the Schwab exec has a point. The CNN notification system has lots of advantages over the traditional network management path. Look at what they can deliver. The TV network can usually provide timely notification of outages, downtimes, or sluggish response times of your public web site, just like those million-dollar tool sets. But unlike the tools, you don’t need to install a great deal of network infrastructure and other gear. Indeed, you don’t need to install much of anything, outside of a cable-ready TV set in your network operations center. You don’t even need to pay your users to report problems, since they will talk to the press free of charge.

      Think about all the savings in effort and energy plowed into developing alert systems, problem escalation routines, pager notification, and other stuff. Many network management products require their own servers, router upgrades, and special software to deal with the flow of data to monitor your network health. Who needs this? Turn these servers into more productive uses, such as delivering new web applications. When you start to look around, you could probably cut out some other things that could deliver big savings.

      Granted, no IT professional wants to see their systems mentioned on the news, especially for reliability problems. But really, these days there is no such thing as bad publicity. Look at the troubles with eBay, Victoria’s Secret and (maybe) MCI: all that press over their respective downtime woes ended up bringing them more business, more web site traffic, and more customers. So you could say that the CNN notification system is a good thing indeed.

      So turn off your old fashioned ways of managing your network. Tune in to CNN, and save a pile of dough in the process.

“Self-promotions department”

      The fall conference season is upon us. Next week I’ll be in Atlanta at Interop, giving a series of three talks. First up is a special lunch-time speech on “Home Networking: How You Can Provide Tech Support for Your Family and Friends and Still Keep Your Day Job,” going over my first-hand experience with using many of these products. I’ll also be moderating two panels entitled, “What Parts of E-Commerce Should You Consider Outsourcing?” and “Delivering Web-Based Customer Support.” If you are coming to show, do stop by during these times.

      I am also organizing a special one-day eCommerce event with the week-long Internet Security Conference, held in Boston for the first time beginning October 11. I begin the day with a keynote on the state of eCommerce and have put together a series of panel discussions related to various security issues with running a web storefront, including payment systems, database integration, encryption alternatives and more. If you are interested in Internet security and want to soak up a great deal of high-quality education from the leading lights in this field, this is the place to be. It is a small conference but packed with loads of good sessions and I highly recommend it.

      Also, I’ll be in Boston is a special keynote for the Information Technology Services Marketing Association entitled, “Internet Marketing in the New Millennium: Friend of Foe?” scheduled for October 5. Links to all these speeches, along with the web pages of the conferences themselves, can be found at my web site:

      Turning to my published articles, my latest Executive Technology for Computerworld is entitled “Scanner Smorgasbord,” and reviews several different kinds of document scanners including the HP CapShare and Correx CardScan.

 Copyright © 1999, 2000

      Web Informant copyright 1999 by David Strom, Inc., reprinted by permission
Web Informant is ® registered trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
ISSN #1524-6353 registered with U.S. Library of Congress.

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