Identifying the best system to monitoring your IT infrastructure

Oct 24, 2012 Technology

Choosing a suitable systems for monitoring your IT infrastrucure is a difficult process, but to make this a considerably easier task, there are several key factors that you can take into consideration…

Initially, and critically before you do anything else, you need to identify exactly what you want to achieve from your system.

You need to run an internal audit to analyse your existing systems that you have in place to ascertain how many servers you are running, what software is running on them, the amount of data that is being stored on them and what is being shared between users including shared files and databases, and the equipment running across the network includes shared devices. At this point you will be able to determine whether or not you currently have any processes in place to accurately oversee the use of the systems you have in place and monitor the load on the network.

One of the major concerns clients report when dealing with any IT provider is the lack of a proactive support mechanism. There is nothing more frustrating for clients to have to report faults themselves when they are easy to identify and diagnose remotely. As an IT support provider, you must be able to identify and rectify problems before the client experiences them.

When conducting your audit, if you are currently montoring the existing structure that is in place, you need to ask yourself the question about what exactly it is that you are using. Are you dedicating too many resources in terms of staff to monitor the infrastructure and are you using too many dedicated pieces of software to do this and can it be done more efficiently?

Finally, the key point to consider with any current system is current satisfaction levels (including those of your clients that you are serving). Are you happy with the results it is providing? Is it giving you real value for money for the outcome you are receiving and is it an affordable solution?

While this may sound like a mercenary approach, cost is a key factor to consider. You need to get value for money from whatever system you implement and it must fall within whatever budget you have available.

So when it comes to assessing the financial outlay that you will be looking at when choosing a new system, there are issues you will need to look at here as well.

Identifying the technical requirements for your monitoring system are crucial. The load on this system will be dependent on the number of devices that are attached to your network, whether they are PCs, printers, network hard drives or other shared devices and the more of these that need to be monitored, the greater strain will be placed on your monitoring system and in turn, the greater cost. Other expenses that can’t be overlooked as part of your budget are your initial set-up costs, ongoing costs for support charges that you may need to cover for software or hardware, and you also need to make an allowance for development of your staff to be able to administer the monitoring system.

One thing that should never be the deciding factor in choosing your monitoring system is the cost. What is most important is ensuring that your system is up to the task at hand and what you expect your system to need in the future should the size of your network grow and your software and data requirements expand accordingly. some future-proofing will need to be incorporated but there is no need to budget for a system beyond your immediate and projected long-term needs.

So in terms of selecting the best possible monitoring system to puchase to meet your needs, the functions that it would need to be able to successfully manage would be:

Continuously analyse the hardware that is running across the network as a whole throughout the entire business to ensure that they are operating at optimal efficiency, with a minimal amount of system failure and with sufficent resources to avoid any impact on business effectiveness

Effective monitoring of the hardware that forms the business’s data centre. All data storage devices need to be assessed constantly to ensure that there is sufficient shared storage for all staff across the business, and that the core business servers are performing adequately to cope with the staff demands placed upon them and are operating without risk of hardware failures (eg. without risk of overheating).

The number of staff using the system should be under constant observation to again ensure that the system is not overloaded. Performance speed of both software (in terms of response time and accessing data from local and network hard drives) as well as performance of hardware itelf needs to be assessed regularly to ensure that business isn’t being affected. Where the business operates in an online environment, care must be given to ensure that the network can cope with the amount of business expected and and that all enquiries and orders can be processed effectively without any bottlenecks being caused by an underperforming system.

Most importantly the system should allow you to be in a position to reduce the level of technical support that you need to offer to staff on an ongoing basis purely because you are reducing the amount of software running (which will naturally improve reliability). With continuous monitoring, you will also be able to aim for a significantly increased level of service uptime all year round to all staff.

There are ample monitoring systems available on the market that can provide companies with everything they need to achieve their goals to maximise performance of their IT infrastructures. Whether this means using an off-the-shelf package or opting for a high-end bespoke system, each has its own advantages and disadvantages but closer inspection will allow you to find out which is best for you.

Once you’ve reached the decision as to what your needs are with regards to the technology side of things to match your existing infrastructure, the next step will be to identify how you put this monitoring system in place and ensure that all staff are fully versed in running it effectively.

One thing that isn’t always the case when it comes to monitoring systems is that the more expensive the system then the better it will be. Traditionally, the more you pay for a system, the more complex it is likely to be to install and as a result the longer it will take to train all of your staff to any degree of competency. While it will no doubt be the most effective option for your business and certainly the most powerful, you are just as likely to have ongoing additional costs associated with it and greater resources needed to operate the system in the first case.

In contrast, mid-range systems will still meet the needs of the majority of businesses and offer the added benefit of being significantly faster to integrate into existing networks as most are readily available to purchase in an off-the-shelf format and only require a minimal amount of configuration to be up-and-running. However, while there are a wide range of freely available open source packages available, it is advisable to avoid these. While many may be well written, safety concerns have been raised because of the nature of their open development so a large number of companies refuse to use them.

The final thing that you will need to bear in mind before your system goes live (but the infrastructure is in place and ready) is exactly what you should do if or when things go wrong? Afterall, technology isn’t perfect and no matter how well trained your team are, people are only human.

Common sense should prevail here and before you sign any agreements to purchase any software or hardware for your monitoring system that a competent support structure is in place that meets your needs. Both in terms of hardware and software requirements, you need to keep downtime to an absolute minimum and as a result you need a support network that is available 24 hours a day all year round and your providers has to give you some form of assurance that this will be the case. If not then your it’s your client who will ultimately suffer.

About the author
Anastasia Usmanova

Anastasia Usmanova is a Project Manager at Devellar. Her beats include Web Development, eCommerce, Conversion Boost and a sprinkle of Marketing on top. You can find Anastasia on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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