It’s not uncommon for IT departments to spend more time reacting to problems than trying to identify them before they cause disruption. But for IT departments to run at optimal performance and prevent errors proactive infrastructure monitoring is essential. Firstly not all problems are immediately visible and tend to build up over a period of time. Secondly if you’re not monitoring the health of your IT environment how can you ensure you are providing an efficient and consistent service to your end users?
Having total visibility of your infrastructure is paramount in preventing issues and helps you to make informed decisions to shape the future of your IT environment.
1. Enable data driven insights and decisions
IT monitoring is more than just ensuring that your IT infrastructure is working as it should. Monitoring is a vital element in creating and shaping your overall IT strategy. Your IT environment should deliver optimum performance for your end users. But as technology changes and business needs evolve, how can you be certain your IT estate is performing and delivering what it should?
As a CIO you’re expected to demonstrate how the IT environment is performing and what you are doing to minimise risks. Infrastructure monitoring enables you to benchmark your performance. It’s impossible to know what your normal IT environment behaves like if you don’t monitor it.
Monitoring your infrastructure efficiently means you have access to critical information that is valuable for not only the IT department but other internal stakeholders. Company directors have very little knowledge about how their IT environments are truly performing. The only time they are aware is when there are disruptions and the business is at risk. Monitoring your environment ensures that you can reduce risk and proactively manage systems.
2. Detect problems early to prevent disasters
Proactive analysis of your IT system means that you have a better chance of preventing major disruptions. Monitoring failure patterns and regular health checks of your infrastructure means that you can identify any discrepancies within your systems and understand correlations. If you aren’t monitoring your systems how do you know if they are running out of capacity? The answer is you don’t, you only find out when it’s too late and an issue occurs. Monitoring your networks ensures that any disruptions like network congestion are detected and resolved before it impacts end users.
If you are continuously monitoring your systems you are more likely to pick up on any warning signs and can step in before the problem escalates and affects the end user. Not only is this approach more productive for end users but it relieves the strain on the IT department. Focus can be shifted so you are working to prevent outages rather than fighting fires.
3. Improve productivity and performance
IT monitoring doesn’t just involve measuring the current performance. It’s important to identify areas where improvement should be sought. This means you can fine tune your infrastructure so your system performs as it should. Close monitoring helps your team to understand how the network works and how your systems interact with one another. Rather than waiting for problems to occur before you realise there is a problem, you can proactively identify any areas that are vulnerable. Pin-pointing potential problems helps to prevent future down time and disruption to end users.
4. Plan and budget for IT upgrades
As with all software your IT assets have lifecycles that need monitoring and tracking. How do you know if these tools are working effectively if you aren’t monitoring them? The performance of these assets will change over time, likewise so will your strategy. Not only is it important to have an inventory of your technology assets and when they require upgrading, but it’s equally important to monitor the ongoing performance of these tools.
5. Prevent and reduce downtime and business losses
Downtime not only affects your end user’s experience and productivity, it ultimately affects the company’s bottom line. Monitoring the health of your IT environment can help you identify trends and patterns that occur within your business that cause disruption. Taking a proactive approach to monitoring involves more than taking information at face value, just because your network is functioning it doesn’t mean it’s running efficiently and future problems won’t occur.
Monitoring your IT environment is equally as important as testing your applications. Many businesses think that regular testing is enough. But are you carrying out tests on a variety of thresholds? For example how do you know if your network is ready for the introduction of new software if you’re not testing if your system can be overloaded or if the usage allowance is sufficient?
CIOs are constantly under pressure to deliver seamless performance and improve efficiencies. Learning what the patterns are and the characteristics of your infrastructure means you can detect problems before they impact your business. This also means that you can learn from previous behaviours and trends so you are always running at peak performance. Regular management of your IT environment will help you to answer these questions so you can make informed decisions.