Whenever I go through the logs and graphs of our networks at night, my wife looks at me as if she is wondering what I see in those graphs when I ‘glance’ at them. Well, I am doing my job. Managing the networks of our clients.

There are a lot of companies asking money to maintain your network, which basically means that someone watches the monitoring tools 24/7 and start the appropriate processes, if the system tells them to do so. I think it’s not done to charge people for this passive way of maintaining a network. Only to act when the system tells them to, after the fact. It is what the monitoring tools are for; to monitor.

When I go through the logs and graphs, I look for anomalies. Because I know what to expect when I look at the logs and graphs. If I see something I didn’t expect, something might be off. Spikes in traffic for instances. When that happens, I will look for matching spikes or dips on the clients end. Maybe he is just making a backup of his system and draining bandwidth, or he just had extra traffic because there was a boost in usage after publishing a popular article. It could also mean the start of a trend: traffic that increases over a period of time. That means we might have to sit down with the client to see if he needs to get more bandwidth, to make sure the network can cope with the increased demands. Or it might be a sign of a problem and we need to act. That is what I do when I look at the graphs; I manage.

If I were only to maintain, then I would look at the monitoring tools to see if some indicator went red, instead of green. Then I would start a process to fix that. And I could ask a lot of money for it. But clients want me to manage their network! To use my expertise, spot the trends, advise them about it and act when necessary. And that is exactly why I am paid to manage a network, and not to maintain it: looking at a screen all day, waiting for it to tell me what to do seems just too passive to me.