Consideration 2 of 3: The value of first impressions – Can you get past the dreaded Operations Manager?

In part one of this series for product managers at network equipment providers we discussed the importance of management interfaces for new networking products. Now let’s look at the PM’s role in creating first impressions.

It’s true that management interfaces historically have not been viewed as direct competitive advantage. But experienced product managers know that feedback from customers will be based on first impressions and management interfaces play a crucial part in creating that initial experience. If you don’t think about this factor up front, then the first impression is likely to be bad because even if you have amazing features and functions getting there will seem hard.

The biggest challenge comes when moving from proof of concepts or lab trials to actual operations. Product managers need to keep in mind that while the core functions of the device will be vetted from every direction, the next wave of interest will come from the network operations team. The device may be able to skip rope and dance, but operations will have another list of requirements for manageability.

As the product lifecycle progresses and trials turn into operational deployments, the expectations for manageability increase. If your device can’t talk to the systems that monitor it, it won’t deploy properly. It’s not uncommon for operations to require at least one and often three management interfaces be added over the life of the product. Reasons for adding management interfaces can include:

  • Adding a Web UI to meet the real needs of non-technical users
  • Adding support for the NETCONF protocol to meet the requirements of large service providers that want to automate configuration changes
  • Adding SNMP to meet the requirements of operations teams using common management platforms

By demonstrating that your developers can meet the customer’s manageability challenges in a timely fashion your product can survive into large scale production. The operations manager is a likely roadblock for which you can and should easily prepare.

Learn more about how network equipment providers are using ConfD on-device configuration management to get past operation manager’s objections by eliminating configuration and operational inconsistencies across different management interfaces: here.

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