Remote Management Services: Find the Right Monitoring Tools

MSP Tips

As businesses continue to focus in on their core competencies, streamline operations and ensure business continuity, the pressure and willingness to outsource a wider range of IT functions is increasing. This trend is evident for organizations of all sizes, and presents a growing opportunity for both established service providers as well as new entrants looking to expand revenues through offering a variety of services related to remote IT infrastructure monitoring and assurance.

In a nutshell, these niche service offerings involve monitoring from a central NOC location, the performance of core IT infrastructure at remote sites and offices. The devices and applications being monitored are behind firewalls, and in most cases, NAT-enabled routers. For example, for a nominal monthly fee, a service provider may offer to monitor the execution of daily automated server back-up jobs, amongst other scheduled jobs, and then alert the customer in the event the back-up job did not execute properly. Additionally, the service may involve monitoring applications and servers, such as the mail server, through querying core performance metrics or executing ‘synthetic’ user transactions and monitoring their responses.

What to Look For

These types of service offerings are enabled through implementation of a comprehensive network performance monitoring and service management system by the service provider. Whatever solution is utilized, there are some key remote site capabilities that need to be available. The ability to gather metrics securely from behind a firewall is critical. What this means is that the monitoring solution has to include easily deployable and low-cost remote data-gathering components that are able to process traps/syslogs/eventlogs and execute scripts locally against monitored devices and applications within the secure remote network. The remote module has to be capable of pushing the data to an upstream event management system, and not require inbound requests.

Another challenge that service providers will have to deal with is that of customer networks having overlapping or duplicated IP ranges. If the customers are small businesses, it’s extremely likely that all are using some parts of the 192.168.x.x network. The monitoring solution has to account for this scenario, and uniquely identify customer-specific devices without requiring that businesses re-address their networks just so that they’ll be easier for the service provider to manage.

Remote site management offers a niche, but growing revenue opportunity for service providers. As you consider expanding your portfolio of services to include remote site management, make sure that the enabling technology is capable of dealing with the unique environment of distant offices and sites.

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