Is your IT infrastructure healthy?

Unless your business is one of the only 10 percent that has an infrastructure management tool, you have no idea how healthy your IT environment is

Is your IT infrastructure healthy?

From my experience, if you look at 200 or so companies, you’ll find approximately 10 with enterprise tool sets for infrastructure management, six with middle-of-the-road packages, and four with home-grown solutions. That’s 20 total, just 10 percent. To make matters worse, the enterprise tool sets tend to be difficult to install and use, so system admins fail to use them as much as they should.

Based on my observations, most businesses do not have a good read on the health of their IT infrastructure. They need a cost-effective, practical solution to monitor their IT environment so they can manage it more efficiently.

Preventing Murphy’s Law

IT infrastructure management tools can help to prevent slowdowns and downtime, thus help you to avoid the firefights that occur when Murphy’s Law strikes. That, of course, should be a priority. After all, when you have three people hunting down a problem for a week, each spending perhaps 10 hours on the problem, you waste 30 working hours.

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It’s not just the cost of their time that matters; it’s also the opportunity cost. The staff members who troubleshoot the slowdown are unable to devote time to creating new systems that could increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your organization.

Doing more with less

You can also use an IT infrastructure performance management solution for more than managing day-to-day performance. It can also help you use IT assets more efficiently.

For example, you may have 10 servers that are coming off maintenance. Without data, you might think, “I have 10 servers, so I’ll replace them with 10 servers.” Based on data about your server utilization, however, you could discover you are currently over-provisioned and can reduce your server count to four.

That insight enables you to reduce capital and operational expenses. With fewer servers, there will be fewer requirements for management and less need for floor space and power.

What will get the job done?

If you’re ready to ensure your IT environment’s health and efficiency, then you need an IT infrastructure management solution. What should you look for?  

Find a solution that your admins and system architects will use and find useful. Usually, IT staff like visually appealing dashboards that distill the most critical information and provide insights at a glance. Thresholds should tell them which technology assets are trending toward a problem, enabling them to prioritize their efforts in shoring up the health of your infrastructure.

Also, no matter how easy your solution is to use, you also want your vendor to have subject matter experts on hand who will walk you through the data and offer advice as needed.

In addition, your solution should be easy to install, manage and support. You don’t want one that requires a full-time employee to run it. And, of course, stay away from a tool that monitors excessively; it may cause more problems than it solves.

To get the most out of a tool, it needs to offer comprehensive oversight, both broad and deep, of your IT assets. That means it must monitor servers, storage, SAN and applications of all brands 24/7/365 whether they are on premises or in the cloud. It should offer a high degree of granularity, so you don’t get misled by skewed data, and it should allow you to drill deeply into data to determine root causes. Also, make sure you can keep historical data for as long as you like. Long-term data trends help in planning your infrastructure and in backtracking for causes when troubleshooting.

For the planners in your IT department, you’ll want a couple of extra features. That’s because they’ll want to be able to separate out technology, for example, for data migration and cloud migration analyses. For that, you’ll need to be able to tag and group assets, as well as create “what if” scenarios without drowning in a sea of Excel spreadsheets.

Hold off on hiring

When instituting a program to manage your IT infrastructure performance, you might think you need to hire more employees to support it. However, if you have the right solution, you won’t need to do that. That’s because your current team is going to spend less time on non-value-added activities, such as troubleshooting.

To see the program's impact on your department’s workload, try the tool you’re considering before you make hiring plans. You may discover the solution allows you to free people up, enabling them to tackle that mountain of technical debt—such as upgrading systems and decommissioning technology that’s unnecessarily consuming maintenance costs.

Efficiency and cost savings

Most companies need a comprehensive IT infrastructure performance management tool, and a large majority are soldiering on without one. If, however, they look for the right solution that is comprehensive, easy to use, gentle on resource requirements, and offers advanced analytics for the planners, they will realize benefits of increased labor efficiency and decreased technology costs.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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