IT infrastructure monitoring is the unsung hero of the modern workplace. It’s a hero because it sustains our technology systems in ways that allow them to function continuously, reliably, and seamlessly. It’s unsung because most employees don’t notice it, so long as the technologies they rely on continue to work without interruption.
However, IT infrastructure monitoring is at the core of practice for IT experts and managed services providers (MSPs). So what is it? What does it accomplish? And, as all of our technologies continue to transform in new ways, what do we need to know about its emerging possibilities?
Understanding IT Infrastructure Monitoring
In order to understand the term IT infrastructure monitoring, let’s break it down into its constituent parts. “IT infrastructure” refers to the various components comprising any IT service. Think about your own office environment—computers, printers, modems, networks, storage, and more. These are the physical and virtual elements of the IT ecosystem that many simply take for granted. Given their importance to everything we do in the modern workplace, any of these elements going offline can cause serious disruptions to business.
IT infrastructure monitoring refers to the process of continuously collecting data related to the health of your IT system—a process that can reveal problems both large and small. For MSPs, the routine tracking of this data allows them to correct minor problems before they grow into major ones. Of course, major problems can sometimes erupt without warning, in which case IT experts must monitor reactively to address them. In both cases, IT infrastructure monitoring is essential for ensuring the IT ecosystem continues to function with as little disruption as possible.
Monitoring vs. Management
This begs the question of what differences exist, if any, between infrastructure monitoring and infrastructure management. The two phrases are often used interchangeably and assumed to be one and the same. However, they actually describe different processes that relate to each other in important ways.
As indicated already, infrastructure monitoring is the collection of data concerning the computing system of a particular enterprise. Monitoring makes that data available to help identify problems. By contrast, infrastructure management involves analyzing data generated by infrastructure monitoring in order to locate, assess, and find resolutions to problems as they arise. Whereas infrastructure monitoring is conducted by a software tool, infrastructure management is conducted either by an IT expert or with machine algorithms. Clearly, both of these processes are critical to the productivity and profitability of your business. Both monitoring and management contribute to the process by which IT experts identify and resolve problems before they affect end users.
IT Infrastructure Monitoring Tools
Although it is possible to monitor a small network manually, this becomes cumbersome when it comes to larger networks. Most IT teams will therefore need to rely on infrastructure monitoring tools. Many such tools exist, so it is important to know what to look for. Several key features include:
- Availability, performance, and health status monitoring
- Flexibility for private, public, and hybrid cloud environments
- Advanced alerting when problems arise
- Customizable reports on your system
- Customer support options
Most importantly, you will want to choose a tool that meets the particular needs of your business. This means finding a provider that can customize their tools to fit your company.
The Future of IT Infrastructure Monitoring
As you begin to think about IT infrastructure monitoring, it is also worth noting how the nature of IT infrastructure monitoring is changing. As more businesses choose to transfer operations from underlying infrastructures to the cloud and elsewhere, the kind of disastrous meltdowns and data losses we feared in the past have become far less common. This new reality frees up IT infrastructure monitoring to focus less on infrastructure-related metrics and more on business-relevant metrics that can be vital to everyone in the company or organization. According to Gartner’s estimates, approximately 60% of IT monitoring investments will include a focus on these latter metrics by 2021.
Due to these developments, IT infrastructure monitoring is finally having its day in the sun. In addition to IT experts, leaders across industries are recognizing the important insights this process can provide. These insights are no longer limited exclusively to the functioning of IT ecosystems and increasingly encompass core business practices and operations.