Latest management initiatives demand better tools

* Management tools today need to be better than ‘good enough’

It’s interesting how the world of management has changed. In the recent past, I’ve written about management tools that are “good enough” for some IT organizations because they don’t have the money to spend on more robust management capabilities. But there are some changes afoot in the management market that may mean “good enough” functionality is no longer good enough.

In the past, some vendors that could provide very detailed system information were scrambling to find compelling reasons to get customers to open up their wallets to purchase their robust capabilities. They had limited success.

Now with the industry focusing more on solving the problem of misconfigurations that cause operational problems and on complying with regulatory mandates, deeper configuration data is in vogue. To control the configurations of your systems, you need to know what the configuration settings are - and the basic information about a system will no longer do. Evidence of this trend is in the strings of vendor acquisitions of products that have inventory at their core - most recently, Novell’s acquisition of Tally Systems.

Add to that the increased attention that configuration management databases (CMDB) are getting. The value of the CMDB is pulling configuration data together into a cohesive view, so that it enables IT processes across management disciplines. In the past each of these disciplines had their own store of configuration data for the devices they were responsible for. With the CMDB, the configuration data isn’t squirreled away in “black holes” within the silos; it is shared across IT.

There isn’t really anything magical about the CMDB - and it’s not a panacea. However, it is a step in the right direction. The pieces of the infrastructure are all interconnected in some way - some more than others, but connected nevertheless. If you try to manage each piece in a vacuum, the result may not necessarily turn out the way you had intended. Nor is it the ideal way to handle it.

For those organizations that see the need for maturing their IT processes, in some cases “good enough” tools may no longer be adequate. They may do the job for what you need today, but will they be sufficient in the near future and the long-term?

Consider what you’re using and where your IT organization needs to go. Then create a plan for getting there. Although the cost of tools that are better than the “good enough” tools will likely be more expensive than what you have today, that’s not certain. Some tools may actually be quite reasonable in price. So don’t rule them out before you’ve investigated them.

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