A few months ago my car needed a lot of tender loving care. As part of a routine oil change, my mechanic discovered that the car needed a new air filter, tail lights, battery, trunk handle, and tires. Now, some of these things seemed easy enough. I figured I’d go the DIY route and do it all myself. How hard could it be? All I had to do was watch a few videos, buy parts, and a few hours later I’d be done.
To my surprise, it took me an entire weekend. I had to take the car back to the mechanic to fix the trunk handle, and AAA would have to install the battery. I would have been better off having the mechanic take care of it all.
Free Tools: the DIY Approach to Network Management
Why am I telling you all this in a technology blog? DIY has many parallels in technology. IT pros have numerous free tools and open source tools at their disposal to get their job done. A simple Google search will show free tools for monitoring, asset management, and more. In other words, a DIY approach to IT management. This can be perfectly fine for some IT pros who have few other options.
Free tools and open source tools can be good enough to address a specific need or two. However, there are some important considerations that IT pros should look at before going the DIY route:
- What level of effort is required to get free tools up and running?
- Is there any documentation and support?
- Do your free tools have any security flaws or malware hidden inside?
- Is it licensed to use commercially?
- What is the developer’s roadmap to keep up with the rest of the infrastructure?
From what I have seen, free tools and open source tools are often a stepping stone to something more advanced. Many IT pros see the value that comes from monitoring aspects of their networks, servers and apps. And they are left wanting more. My recommendation is to consider a very affordable set of network monitoring tools, with tech support and a development roadmap.