Article on IT Monitoring by Ipswitch

Looking at any organization today, one sees hard-working group of individuals tasked with the near impossible- that being navigating an increasingly complex IT environment while securely delivering virtually zero downtime. That’s today’s IT teams across companies and the software one chooses to empower teams is critical to their ability to perform. Thus is it important that the right selection is made based on the company’s specific needs.
The following ‘Top 5 Business Issues’ are directly related to the monitoring tools and approach for IT teamselect:
Reactive Management
All IT teams react to unplanned service interruptions. But some teams identify the vast majority of issues before they are reported by users. The degree to which your team is reactive versus proactive can be measured by the percentage of service affecting incidents you first learn about from users. The more reactive the team, the less they are perceived as a valuable asset to the organization.
In countless studies and analyst reports, reactive management has been correlated with silo- or point-specific monitoring deployments. The causal effect most often stems from the inability to integrate data between organizational siloes and/or gain end-to-end visibility across technology domains.
Lengthy Troubleshooting Times
Service level disruptions trigger cross-departmental meetings and conference calls in which SMEs compare the health of their individual domains in an attempt to find a likely cause. Since what passes as a ‘healthy’ condition in at one level of the service delivery stack may cause disastrous results at a higher level, cause is all too often difficult to ascertain. This ‘siloed tool’ monitoring approach often adds considerable delay to your mean time to repair (MTTR) especially in more complex IT environments.
Higher Incident Rates
“Have you tried turning it off and on again?” As time passes and user frustration mounts, IT teams often turn in desperation to the process of restarting suspected problem servers. While this approach may restore service, every IT professional knows it just adds to another ‘known problem’ to the list. Over time, an increasing number of unresolved issues resurface resulting in higher incident rates.
Lowered Service Levels
Higher incident rates and long troubleshooting times combine to reduce service levels and impact your ability to roll out improvements. A common complaint of IT teams firmly in or entering this undesirable state is that ‘too many people spend too much time troubleshooting’.
Wasted Manpower
Each management tool used requires some degree of dedicated manpower to operate and maintain. All too often, tools are selected based on the degree to which they can be customized without due consideration to the ease of customization. As the number of tools grows, this becomes a manpower drain on resources that impacts productivity. Therefore, as IT teams mature they often place a higher degree of emphasis on ease of automation and smaller numbers of tool vendors.
Advantages of a Unified Monitoring Approach
To address critical business issues, IT Teams are seeking flexible and unified monitoring tools to help them control complexity. In a typical multi-vendor environment nearly all IT components support a wide range of protocols that are used to gather data. Unified IT monitoring tools (UIMs) leverage these protocols to provide end-to-end visibility of servers, storage, networks, and applications as well as their interrelationships. This results in a number of key advantages:
A Proactive IT Posture
A single end-to-end perspective encourages a dependency-based approach to monitoring individual domain elements. For instance, knowing the scale and criticality of the virtual workload a physical servers hosts will dictate the thresholds and severity you apply to key performance indicators. When IT monitoring is based on such knowledge of dependencies it is more likely to identify potential or developing problems. Thus, organizations that use a unified monitoring approach are more likely to be proactive.
Faster Problem Resolution
Networking, server, storage and application teams are able to work together more effectively when they are all dealing with the same information. This leads to faster problem detection and resolution (MTTA, MTTR). Teams that better understand technology dependencies for the delivery of critical business applications and services are able to more quickly identify the cause of problems.
Flexibility
Every IT environment is different. Monitoring tools need to have the flexibility to handle a wide range of use cases, devices and protocols. Software licensing models also need to be flexible to support growth and changes in your environment. IT teams want to be able to monitor new devices and applications without having to buy additional licenses.
Improved Incident Rates
Of course, being able to detect developing problems and take proactive steps to avoid them decreases incident rates. So does actually being able to diagnose the cause of incidents. As causes are identified, problems can actually be fixed and the list of known problems decreased.
Better Service Levels
Perhaps the largest benefit of unified monitoring to IT teams is the impact on service levels. Whenteams are able to meet aggressive SLA’s they worry less about network availability, end-user response times and application performance and increase their focus on overall service quality factors like faster, smoother deployment of improvements.
Lower Costs
Finally, unified monitoring goes a long way to decreasing the number of silo specific tools that are actually needed. Not only does this translate to more productive use of manpower, it also means reduced costs in licensing, maintenance, configuration, training, upgrading and the associated manpower.
IT Monitoring Selection Criteria
Selecting an asset as strategic as an IT monitoring system is made more difficult by confusing vendor emphasis on the features they consider most important. In reality, there’s only one set of features that matters: the ones you need to do your job. Every IT environment is different and every IT team has different needs.
DISCOVERY/VISIBILITY FEATURES
• Automated Layer 2/3 Network Discovery: Automatically discover networked assets
• Automated Network Mapping:Automatically map and document physical servers and virtual machines, clusters, vCenter server, and VMware ESXi hosts and guests.
• End-to-End Dashboard View: Show all network components and domains in one window/single pane of glass.
• Multiple/Customizable Dashboards: Support multiple out-of-the-box dashboard configurations and makes it easy to develop customer dashboards for individual users.
MONITORING FEATURES
• Monitor Network: Monitor anything with an IP address that is accessible by standard monitoring protocols like SNMP, WMI (Windows), and SSH (Unix/Linux).
• Monitor Applications: Monitor the performance and availability of business critical applications running on Microsoft, Linux, Java and virtual environments.
• Monitor Servers: Monitor the status and performance of both physical and virtual servers.
• Monitor Storage: Monitor storage devices and report on volume utilization, analyze storage traffic load via network interfaces and detect abnormalities in the system’s temperature, fan and CPU.
• Extensive/Custom Monitor Libraries: Support libraries of SNMP objects to monitor your network attached devices, a WMI library to monitor your Windows servers and applications. Supports easy custom monitor development.
• Monitor Wired & Wireless Networks: Discover and monitor the dependencies between wired and wireless networks. Supports fast response to performance problems using dynamic wireless maps displaying clients, access points and wireless LAN controllers. Proactively addresses trends with historical reports on access point subscription, signal strength, and hardware health.
• Trend Analysis: Retain historical data in order to prove SLAs are being met.
• Continual Monitoring with Minimal Setup: Start collecting data, receiving alerts and analyzing reports in under an hour
• Role Based Monitoring: Allow for easy application of role based monitoring profiles.
AUDITING/REPORTING AUTOMATION
• Automated, Historical & Customizable Reports: Include multiple out-of-the-box reports that include historical data. Support simple customization to develop new reports. Track access and permissions changes and leverage out-of-the-box compliance reports for audits.
• Automated Inventory Reports:Quickly generate inventory reports on network assets, H/W modules, installed S/W data, warranty status and more.
• Automated Log & Event Management: Automatically collect store and archive logs. Generate out of the box compliance reports for PCI, HIPAA, SOX, Basel II, etc. Analyze logs to track access and permission changes typically required for compliance audits.
• Configuration Reports: Automatically inventory and store configuration files in a secure repository. Automate configuration changes and leverages configuration change audit trails for regulatory compliance and to restore device configuration.
AUTOMATION FEATURES
• Easy Automation of Manual Tasks: Discovery, mapping, inventory reporting, compliance reporting, etc.
• Configuration Management: Automates network device configuration including auto restoration.
TROUBLESHOOTING FEATURES
• Proactive Problem Resolution: Leverage custom dashboards, alerts and automated resolution to find and fix problems before users are impacted. Analyze network bandwidth utilization to assure critical applications and services are prioritized.
• Simple Interface: Accelerate the diagnostics process with a simple, single-pane-of-glass interface.
• Smart Alerting: Support flexible thresholding, alerting and alert suppression to eliminate alert storms for faster fault isolation.
• Diagnostic Reporting: Provide extensive reporting for diagnostics and SLAs
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