It’s not just about uptimes – next-generation IT monitoring explored
Any professional involved in IT likely has a virtual toolbox of utilities, monitoring apps, logfile checkers, scripts and favorite web pages that they use every day, to keep tabs on the systems under their control. From a simple rsync to push a home directory to a remote server for backup, to a full stack monitoring platform, the methods and habits of everyone will be different.
While that usually means a faster set of working processes, it’s not ideal for deployment at any scale, nor is it particularly suited to even small concerns that chop and change how their apps and services are deployed. Additionally, while command line parsing of config files might be second nature to some, at a supervisory or management level such methods will probably not be enough to create a meaningful insight into how critical systems are performing.
The role of an IT function in business has altered drastically over the last dozen years or so, with non-IT staff more than capable of creating new instances of databases or creating applications running in the cloud to achieve a specific task, or power the work of a temporary workgroup. Because of that fact, IT’s role is now one of empowering, and providing support, guidance, and protection for the business functions to continue as seamlessly and safely as possible. And therefore, the trusty toolkit, the mixed bag of choice utilities and methods that have served IT well in the past may not be up to the plasticity that’s now part of modern IT.
Additionally, the underpinning technology of adding power to, for instance, an EC2 instance is well-abstracted away from users. If business-critical applications slow down (slow is the new offline!) then adding more compute, memory or storage is usually a matter of just a few mouse clicks. And just a few hours later, automated systems may switch those services’ basis to another data center; or change the type of platform to one that’s more suited to a workload; or respond in some way according to demands for scale.
In short, the traditional methods of systems monitoring and control just aren’t cut out to handle the more business-centric methods of using IT.
In addition to the function of IT in the organization driving changes, there are also a host of changes in technology that underpin critical applications and services. DevOps now uses – or is beginning to use – technologies like containers, microservices, and continuous development mechanisms, that allow a much faster time to production for new app instances. Identifying which elements might be generating errors or which containers need constant restarting are new challenges, and additionally, the security stance necessary to protect these types of development frameworks have also had to alter.
Service users, from a single customer using a web page, to multiple third parties integrated into an application that oversees important business areas (for instance, a supply chain management system that has multiple business partners and suppliers ‘plugged in’), now expect a level of responsiveness and uptime that just a few years ago simply wasn’t there. That’s due in part to the nature of people’s lives: always-on, always-connected, with resources available at the tap of a screen. But whatever the cause, the onus is ever more on IT to cope with and oversee many different systems which are highly sensitive to even an average level of slowdown, or bandwidth throttling.
In the same vein, modeling real user behavior and live monitoring use of public-facing or internal systems are becoming part of routine IT oversight. That clearly calls for a raft of tools that go well beyond a simple binary status indication, like green = it’s working, red = it’s offline. Identifying cart drop-off abandonment points and bottlenecks in business processes caused by limited system availability are examples of how IT functions in even the smallest enterprise have new, business-focused roles to play.
Here at TechHQ, we’re looking at two providers of what we consider to be practical solutions to IT performance monitoring issues like those detailed above. Whether you’re a small concern with an online store or two, an MSP with hundreds of clients, or a large enterprise with thousands of edge installations, and multiple data centers, we’d recommend one of the following companies. From a single website to complex WANs, the latest management and monitoring platforms are available on a per-node, per-user, per-monitor and/or pre-purpose basis. These are solutions fitting for the XaaS, serverless age.
The Indian/US Zoho initially became well-known in the consumer and business sphere as the provider of the web-based Zoho Office Suite, one of the first commercial, serious contenders for a slice of the Microsoft Office market. It currently offers a range of enterprise cloud services, including project management, collaboration, messaging, billing, HRM and CRM, to mention just a few. Its position as being well ahead of the curve in cloud-based solutions is extended by its Site24x7 platform which offers enterprise-grade features for critical IT infrastructure monitoring, reporting and alerting. Interactive web apps, internal and external DNS, mail, network infrastructure, and cloud-based services can all be monitored in real time, and route-cause analysis of issues.
From simple ping, traceroute or SNMP discovery tools up to in-depth oversight of complex public/private cloud and data center operations, the Site24x7 platform gives IT sysadmin and DevOps teams a range of monitoring options that are business-focused – whether that’s keeping tabs on mission-critical systems or drawing reports regarding entire topologies with respect to system availability and the efficiency of systems that underpin complex customer journeys. The platform can also report in the framework of either internal or customer-facing SLAs.
You can read more about Site24x7’s extensive capabilities in this article.
Specifically focused on customer relationship management, Zendesk offers teams the wherewithal to assess their efficiency in the provision of customer care and support via its Zendesk Explore package.
The omnichannel customer care platform pulls together many different communication channels, so for helpdesks, customer care functions, aftercare departments and any client-facing element of the modern enterprise, the Zendesk platform means that best practices can be established. The platform achieves this through a series of dashboards that show information into which teams can drill, seeing which factors in their offerings are producing bottlenecks or pain-points, either for the organization or for their customers.
That might be the efficiency of automated bots, the integration of VOIP and SMS, or even the way that NL routines are processing emails: the ZenDesk solution means constant monitoring and oversight onto every area where customers, clients, and partners touch your company.
*Some of the companies featured on this article are commercial partners of Tech Wire Asia