There are a lot of factors managed services providers (MSPs) need to consider when helping customers—but at the core of those factors is the need to provide customers with consistent, reliable service. To achieve that goal you should not only build a strong IT infrastructure for your MSP—you should also make sure you have a high-quality IT infrastructure monitoring solution for your customers.
IT infrastructure monitoring solutions help MSPs maintain the health of their IT system so they can continue supporting their customers with as little interruption or disruption as possible. Before getting into the specific features MSPs should look for when choosing an IT infrastructure monitoring supplier, it’s helpful to first review why it’s important for any organization to monitor its IT infrastructure.
What makes up an IT infrastructure?
The term “IT infrastructure” is used to encapsulate the collection of software, hardware, services, and network resources that create an organization’s IT environment. All the elements that play any kind of role in IT or IT-enabled operations are part of the IT infrastructure. This includes everything from physical elements like computers and printers, to virtual elements like networks and cloud storage. The IT infrastructure can even include people—though they’re not the part that’s typically monitored as part of a standard IT infrastructure monitoring policy.
Since most of the work of modern MSPs is based around operations that involve technology in one way or another, a solid and well-functioning IT infrastructure is critical to the success of any MSP.
What is the role of IT infrastructure monitoring?
IT infrastructure monitoring is the process of collecting and analyzing data related to the health of your IT infrastructure in order to identify any problems that might impact performance and service. This continuous data collection is conducted with the goal of helping you capture and address potential issues within your IT infrastructure. Doing so proactively can help ensure you identify issues before they grow into major problems that can significantly impact productivity. The main benefits of IT infrastructure monitoring fall into the following three categories:
- Greater productivity: The majority of problems that occur within an IT infrastructure display some sort of warning sign, whether it’s a red “X” in an event log or alerts about the need to update a system. If these problems go unchecked, they have the potential to seriously impact productivity. Luckily, part of IT infrastructure monitoring involves checking for all those warning signs to ensure you’re able to avoid preventable disasters.
- Greater reliability: When an MSP can correct minor issues before they turn into major problems that impede productivity, they’re able to deliver more consistent and reliable service to their customers. Maintaining service continuity is something your customers will always appreciate, and it plays a significant role in brand loyalty and customer retention.
- Strengthen customer relationships: As an MSP, many of your customers are probably small and medium-sized businesses. They may not be able to recover from the financial burden of a serious problem in their IT infrastructure. A large invoice could ruin the relationship between you and your customer. By implementing IT infrastructure monitoring to help you detect and resolve issues before they become crises, you can prevent your customers from receiving that debilitating invoice. When combined with the increased reliability you and your customers gain from IT infrastructure monitoring, investing in a quality IT infrastructure monitoring solution upfront to avoid large costs later down the line is a no-brainer.
An IT infrastructure monitoring checklist
The goal of an IT infrastructure monitoring solution is to find problems within your IT infrastructure and help you tackle them before they impede business operations. IT monitoring tools do this by collecting, monitoring, and analyzing metrics in real time. They check for availability and the utilization of networks, server resources, storage, virtual machine monitors, database instances, and more.
Because these monitoring tools collect data over time, they’re able to compare current metrics to historical data and trends to find anomalies. Any IT infrastructure monitoring solution should give you greater visibility into your IT infrastructure, improve your accuracy in detecting anomalies, simplify the process of diagnosing and solving problems, and enhance infrastructure availability and reliability overall. Beyond those basics, there are several additional factors you should consider when selecting your tool:
- Scalability: Your tool should grow as you do. Although many MSPs choose their IT infrastructure monitoring tool when they’re just starting out, they’ll soon grow their roster of customers and will want a solution that can keep up.
- Ease of set-up: Setting up your IT infrastructure monitoring solution shouldn’t be a huge headache. Many good solutions offer easy set-up and supplier support.
- Ease of use: Your technicians should be able to use and understand the tool without undergoing specialized training or needing to learn new skills.
- Interface quality: The tool should have a clear, unified interface as well as dashboards that make it easy to identify the root causes of detected anomalies.
- Remote access: You want a tool that allows for remote IT management and infrastructure monitoring so your technicians can securely keep track of IT infrastructure from any device.
- Intelligent alerting: Make sure you get alerted on the metrics that matter, without being inundated with alerts about the ones you don’t need to look at right away.
- Customer support options: Research your supplier’s customer service capabilities to ensure you can get fast, high-quality support if you ever have a question about your tool.
Selecting the right IT infrastructure monitoring solution
At the very least, any IT infrastructure monitoring solution you choose should cover every point on the checklist above. However, the best tool will go above and beyond those basics.
SolarWinds® N-central® comes with all the elements above—and much more. The solution goes far beyond IT infrastructure monitoring to provide a full arsenal of tools to help you manage complex networks, all from one consolidated and customizable solution.
With N-central, automation helps simplify even the most complex tasks. The tool streamlines the problem-solving process by allowing you to set up specific automated responses. N-central can handle diverse, complex IT environments, providing quality support no matter an MSP’s size or its potential future growth. It also includes robust security features, including endpoint detection to help MSPs prevent, detect, and respond to threats.
As an MSP, it’s paramount that you make the right impression with your customers through reliable service. Doing so will help you strengthen customer relationships and allow you to continue growing your business in the future, and N-central’s built-in monitoring capabilities can help you do just that.