IT Monitoring used to be a relatively bounded term. That certainly has changed with the increased size and scope of IT infrastructures and the accompany applications.
By recognizing their biggest IT Monitoring challenges, those that are held accountable for application availability and performance can do a better job of selecting the most appropriate IT monitoring technology.
In some respects, selecting the right IT monitoring toolset is a bit like the Goldilocks fable, IT is looking for that “just right” combination of functionality, usability, and cost.
IT Monitoring Challenges
Complexity – We continue to add layer upon layer of technology. IT monitoring now encompasses a wide array of problem areas: network, server, physical, virtual, on-premises, and cloud. Taking this even further, it is ultimately about the application and the end-user. Think of the number of levels of abstraction there are ingrained in most applications.
Volume – With so much to monitor, the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming. How does IT properly triage, track, and attack problem areas? The challenge is about receiving meaningful information so that IT organizations can readily identify, investigate, and solve performance and availability issues.
Liability – The need to detect and address IT issues before management and end users are aware is paramount. Organizations rarely give IT organizations their due, even when all is well.
When there is a problem, especially one that affects the bottom line, IT is then put under a microscope.
Questions arise like “How did this happen?” or worse yet “How did you let this happen?” The challenge is to head off problems before anyone knows they occurred in the first place and avoid finger pointing.
Compliance – Measuring and quantifying performance and availability can be a frustrating exercise. While availability is often binary and easier to measure, agreeing on what constitutes proper performance (i.e. the difference between good verses degraded behavior) can be a challenge.
The question IT needs to be ready to answer – “Can you show how well you are meeting IT performance and availability objectives?”
IT Monitoring Attributes
Single pane of glass – Alerts and anything problem related must be displayed in a cohesive single dashboard. The information coming in should be real-time or near real-time, minimizing the latency between problem detection and notification. Color coding alerts also enable IT to quickly identify and escalate problem areas.
Minimal Installation – An agentless deployment is ideal as there is no client to install. Agentless data collection is ideal for the hybrid cloud because there is no technology to deploy or maintain on virtual machines, monitoring overhead is negligible, and deployment is quick and painless.
Longitude is agentless and relies on a variety of API’s and protocols to “pull” key performance and availability metrics from the IT infrastructure and the accompanying applications.
Alerting - Means communicating problem information to the right people and at the right time. Keeping the problem information relevant and timely goes a long way towards a monitoring strategy that saves time rather than takes time.
Proper alerting requires the ability to notify staff via a number of mechanisms such email, SMS, and webhooks. Initiating corrective actions is also part and parcel to alerting. For example, if a corrective action can mitigate or even fix a problem before users are affected, then the alerting can be limited to IT staff - and broadened only when a quick resolution isn’t in the cards.
Reporting – It is about measuring and quantifying past health and, when possible, predicting future health. Ultimately it is about being able to provide an objective measurement of performance and availability.
Reports on performance, capacity, and alerts not only help keep the entire organization informed but also help amplify the effectiveness of IT.
IT monitoring need not be complicated or burdensome. It should be simple to configure, alert proactively, deliver real-time dashboards, and provide clear reporting to IT and their constituents.