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Unix Enterprise by Harris Kern & Randy Johnson

Metrics: How to really manage your enterprise

Martin County, FL shows you how its done

April  1997
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Do you have metrics to test your network? Without them, you have no baseline and no way to determine if things are improving or not. The IT department in Martin County, FL now knows what it's metrics are and can determine whether changes are beneficial or not. Here's what Martin County's IS team found. (1,300 words)

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Our relationship with Martin County, FL, began when R&H Associates was asked by IS Director Kevin Kryzda to come in and perform an infrastructure assessment. One of the areas that needed immediate attention was in establishing metrics to determine the county's cost for services. In government more than any other industry, cutting costs are problematic, since politicians are always slashing budgets. These same politicians focus on return on investment and threaten to outsource.

If you can't measure it, you can't manage it
In the enterprise, metrics are more important than ever before. In the past, your entire company's computing infrastructure was under one roof or, shall we say, one glass house. In that legacy world we used to track and measure everything and then some including:

We think you get the picture. Our former vice president of IT, Mike Graves, used to tell us that if you didn't know the numbers in your area then who does? You have to know those numbers! You need to measure everything! How can you improve unless you benchmark. All you propeller heads thought it would go away with the undisciplined world of client/server. Wrong! The only way to improve service and customer satisfaction is to benchmark.

We've been telling people for years that the reason mainframe computing was so reliable was not because of the box but because of the surrounding disciplines. Metrics is a major part of disciplines.


Thinking of outsourcing?
Sooner or later, every corporation talks of outsourcing. The most talked about and vulnerable area is that good old internal MIS shop where the perception is that it's outrageously costly to maintain with little return on investment.

We've mentioned in previous articles that IT better get it's act together as quickly as possible (become cost-effective, efficient, and flexible) but as we travel around the globe, we find that no one is listening until it becomes too late.

But it's more than just getting your act together, once you do (and we haven't seen it in many places), then you need to measure your cost of service. How much does it cost for you to provide infrastructure services to your customers? What are your network costs, data center costs, and desktop costs, and how much does it cost to support your mission critical client/server applications? You need to know these numbers, but most companies make the mistake of stopping there. Once you get those numbers, compare them to those outsourcing vendors such as EDS or CSC. Be ahead of the curve and let your CFO decide from a menu -- take ours or theirs. I'm sure we don't have to tell you that your costs need to be lower.

Here's an excerpt from a report we developed for Martin County depicting metrics, cost of service, and service-level agreements. Remember to keep everything simple.

Fundamental to any state-of-the-art client/server computing environment is the network...The IS Department (ISD) at Martin County designed, implemented, and maintains a state-of-the-art wide-area network. This network consists of a 100-megabit fiber backbone, 10-megabit LAN technologies, and 100-megabit switching capability. It is installed at the main administration building and seven remote locations. These remote locations have LANs that are connected via ISDN and Frame Relay to the main LAN. Users not at the county administration building or one of the seven networked facilities can dial into the network via modem.

The physical network components (cabling, routers, hubs, switches, and terminal servers) are current state-of-the-art technology. Most of the network devices are from a single major networking hardware vendor, (Bay Networks). Older, obsolete devices from other manufactures are scheduled for replacement. The ISD also provides the voice network to multiple county facilities, currently supporting more than 1,200 phone numbers.

The most important performance metric for a physical network is availability. Availability measures the aggregate users' ability to connect anywhere in the network at any moment, measured as the percentage of time a connection is possible, compared to time that a connection is supposed to be possible. The metric can be measured by tracking network downtime as reported to the help desk (see below).

For example, if a network has 1600 physical connections (ports) and somewhere in that network a 16-port concentrator fails, that network is for the moment only 99 percent available (1 percent is unavailable). If the outage lasts eight hours, then for a 24-hour reporting period, the network was 8/24ths of 1 percent unavailable, which is 99.67 percent availability [100 - (16/1600) * (8/24)].

Service Level

  1. The Martin County physical computer network must be operational 7 days a week, 24 hours a day.
  2. The network can never be brought down intentionally Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  3. Any intentional downtime (installations, maintenance, and repair) must be announced to the users at least 24 hours prior to the outage.
  4. Any unplanned network outage occurring Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. will be corrected within 4 hours of its being reported.
  5. Any unplanned network outage occurring any other time will be corrected by midnight the following regularly scheduled work day.
  6. Excluding planned network outages, the network must be available 99.9 percent in any 28-day period.
  7. All open help desk problems attributed to the network service are handled in accordance with the general help desk service level.

Cost of service
The cost of service analysis will only consider the computer network; the voice network is not included in the following numbers. The size of the physical network is best defined by the number of network ports (device connection points) and the speed of these ports (measured in megabits per second). The existing network has:

Table 1
Port Type Qty
10 megabit 986
10 or 100 megabit 192
dial in 144
Total 1322

The Martin County network has approximately 300 devices (PC, workstations, and servers) connected to the available ports. The fixed costs associated with maintaining this network are:

Table 2
Description Cost
Telecommunications service (ISDN, Frame Relay) $230,000.00
Hardware Repair & Maintenance $116,000.00
Salary of Telecommunications Manager(%60) $30,000.00
Salary of a Computer Network specialist (%60). $27,000.00
Salary of PC support Technicians (%5). $4,000.00
Salary of System Administrator (%5) $2,000.00
Total $409,000.00

This yields a cost of approximately $309 per port in recurring annual cost to maintain the physical network. Another way to view the cost is per user, which works out to $1,363 per connected user. The general consensus in the computing community is that a WAN-connected PC incurs between $1,150 and $2,000 in annual recurring costs to maintain. Martin County is at the low end of this range. The fact that the Martin County physical network is only at approximately 25 percent of capacity bodes very well for efficiency with which the ISD delivers physical network services. Many more devices could be accommodated with minimal impact on costs, thereby driving this metric even lower.

In the nineties and beyond -- for IT survive in your company -- don't tell us you don't have the time to develop the metrics. We're sure the other vendors -- your outsource competitors -- will do it for your CFO upon request.

A special thanks to Kevin Kryzda, IS director of Martin County, Fl, for allowing us to showcase one of the best run and cost effective IT organizations we have ever seen.

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About the author
[Harris & Randy photo] Harris Kern ( is Sun's Open Systems Migration Consultant for NAAFO Market Development. Randy Johnson ( owns R&# 38;H Associates, a full-time rightsizing consultancy in Boulder Creek, CA. R&H Associates helps people worldwide in implementing and supporting client/server infrastructures based on their proven methodologies. © 1997 Harris Kern and Randy Johnson. All rights reserved.

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