Winston Churchill once said, “To improve is to change. To be perfect is to change often.” Whether the impetus for change is driven internally, or imposed on organizations by external factors, the reality is that business organizations are constantly changing and evolving. This includes Managed Service Providers (MSPs) as well. Whether the transformation is at a macro or micro level, the IT infrastructure will invariably be impacted given the critical role IT plays in enabling and executing business processes today.
This clearly has implications on your network and IT monitoring software, given that your management tools have to be capable of assuring the effective performance of your and your customer infrastructure as changes occur. There are a number of factors that need to be accounted for to ensure that your IT monitoring and management systems are able to keep up as your business grows and evolves. Most importantly, you need to make sure you minimize the resource costs and lead-times to keep pace.
To begin with, your monitoring software platform has to be agnostic to the type of performance data being gathered and analyzed, and have mechanisms to capture data from a variety of sources. Although the initial deployment may be focused on monitoring the health of a say set of Windows servers using WMI, a need may arise down the road to capture metrics from a security appliance via SNMP Traps, and at some point processing of system logs for a new custom application may become necessary. Common event management, notification, visualization, dashboard and analysis capabilities will also enable seamless inclusion of new IT components.
The monitoring software should provide intuitive UIs and workflows for quickly supporting additional components as the IT infrastructure expands. The ability to define and use templates, leverage pre-existing monitoring profiles, as well as clone current configurations, all shorten the process of dealing with expansion, whether in your infrastructure or that of managed services customers. Having the facility to centrally handle configurations and push these out, or restore them, further simplifies and streamlines your administration processes within a dynamic infrastructure.
Supporting flexible rules and thresholds for generation of events / alarms is becoming increasingly important. As business needs may vary going forward, the criteria, conditions and context for what should be considered a performance degradation warning versus a critical actionable event may change. A “one-size-fits-all” approach that was okay early on may no longer be tenable, especially if your customer base is expected to become more heterogeneous in terms of size, characteristics or geography.
Assuring the performance of IT infrastructure is a key element of delivering quality, reliable and value-rich managed services. Given that business change is inevitable, and the knock-on effects on the IT infrastructure are unavoidable, you need to make sure your IT and network monitoring software is ‘built for change’.