Prioritizing Proactivity in a Complex IT World

Posted 6/10/2016 9:02:18 AM by RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor

Prioritizing Proactivity in a Complex IT World
As a business’s technology infrastructure grows in complexity, IT teams struggle to take a proactive approach to infrastructure monitoring. Furthermore, the C-suite is placing more emphasis on IT’s responsibility to drive the business forward, adding additional pressure to the need to get ahead of performance problems or system outages before they occur. 

We sat down with Comtrade Software President Simon Taylor to talk about these topics, and how IT teams can prioritize monitoring to save time and ensure that business critical applications are highly available.

ADM: How can companies use enterprise frameworks such as Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) to increase their monitoring capabilities?

Taylor: Enterprise frameworks like SCOM offer a holistic monitoring experience that gives you deep visibility into the state, performance and health of your data center in a single, consolidated view. An enterprise approach allows you to use the same framework for every application, at every level of the stack. 

It’s also more affordable to go that route than to use traditional point solutions for two big reasons: You don’t have to buy various software products to manage different levels of the stack, and you don’t have to invest in staff training for each piece of software you implement, since it all runs through the framework with which your team is already familiar and comfortable. 

When you can plug monitoring tools into a system that’s already part of an IT administrator’s typical day, there’s little to no friction involved.  

ADM: What are management packs, and what benefits do they bring?

Taylor: Management packs (MPs) plug into enterprise frameworks – like SCOM – and supplement existing monitoring capabilities. At the surface level, SCOM monitors basic OS-related services, but MPs can provide deeper insights into things like SQL servers, Microsoft Exchange, Skype, SharePoint, etc. 

Management packs can help IT teams predict issues, and ensure everything in your data center is running smoothly. MPs empower IT pros to address potential problems before they impact the end user and cost the company revenue in the form of system delays or unplanned downtime. 

ADM: Why is monitoring the entire IT stack crucial?

Taylor: IT infrastructure is incredibly complex, and growing more so every day. This complexity comes from a combination of new technology being built up around legacy equipment, an increased emphasis on what IT is expected to drive in the business and what is needed to power that responsibility. 

You can imagine that with all this complexity, it can be extremely difficult to pinpoint what’s causing an application lag or network outage. The only way to definitively point to root causes is to gain a holistic view of the overall system health, allowing you to identify where the bottlenecks exist. Full stack monitoring eliminates the guesswork and the associated “blame game” by getting to a quicker time-to-resolution. 

Holistic monitoring helps IT teams identify when additional resources may be needed and provides automatic notifications on issues that can impact business critical applications. 

ADM: How do monitoring tools like management packs promote enterprise mobility?

Taylor: We are living in a virtual world, and many businesses have remote employees across the globe who expect their mobile device or laptop to perform optimally no matter where they’re located. 

Management packs can help companies handle this dispersed workforce; for example, Citrix offers MPs to enterprises using application and desktop virtualization so they can ensure end user performance while boosting productivity, protecting data and reducing costs. 

Obviously, the mobility trend is going to continue to grow, and companies need to be able to empower their workers to function remotely without potential security risks or performance issues.

ADM: What are the consequences if business critical applications are not highly available?

Taylor: The consequences of performance issues can be incredibly impactful in terms of lost revenue. For example, if you’re a retail business, and your website takes longer than a few seconds to load, most users will move to another site without making a purchase. 

And no matter what industry you’re in, if your employees are struggling to access the applications they need to do their jobs properly, it can result in countless minutes of wasted, unproductive time – not to mention frustrated employees. It may not seem like a lot, but if you multiply the impact by the number of users in your company and the number of days when a performance issue occurs, the dollar figures can be stunning.  

Of course, applications can be unavailable for a number of reasons, and increasingly, cyberattacks are the culprit. Cyberattacks can put a website offline and impact application delivery performance, which can result in a flurry of IT support calls from end users. 

Management packs can help extend cybersecurity capabilities by alerting IT teams if an application is under attack and providing details about the attack type, including geolocation of the hacker. Monitoring solutions help IT administrators pinpoint which server was attacked and when the incident happened, which ultimately leads to a safer environment and reduces app unavailability.

ADM: What products have you rolled out lately, and what’s next?
Simon Taylor

Taylor: In Q2, we released our Nutanix MP for SCOM that provides deep levels of application awareness, giving IT pros the ability to understand how applications like Citrix use compute, storage and virtualization resources while visualizing performance trends, device health and usage. 

We also issued a new release of our F5 BIG-IP MP that allows IT administrators to ensure BIG-IP devices are working optimally and to correct any system hiccups. It also monitors the application security management (ASM) layer to identify if an application attack is in progress and visualize attack history.

Our focus is to work with our partners to continually identify gaps in the IT ecosystem, and bridge those gaps with new technology. 

Editor’s Note: Simon Taylor has more than a decade of experience in product marketing, go-to-market strategy development and channel sales management. An MBA graduate, Simon has worked with leading companies such as Comtrade Software, Forrester Research, Putnam Investments and Omgeo. He is currently the president of Comtrade Software, where he is responsible for the overall vision, strategy and execution of Comtrade’s business and technology roadmap.

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About the author: RICHARD HARRIS, Executive Editor

As the Publisher and Editor for App Developer Magazine, Richard has several industry recognitions and endorsements from tech companies such as Microsoft, Apple and Google for accomplishments in the mobile market. He was part of the early Google AFMA program, and also involved in the foundation of Google TV. He has been developing for mobile since 2003 and serves as CEO of Moonbeam Development, a mobile app company with 200 published titles in various markets throughout the world. Richard is also the founder of LunarAds, a mobile cross-promotion and self-serv mediation network for developers. He has been a featured presenter at trade-shows and conferences, and stays active with new projects relating to mobile development.

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