Today's complex IT environment brings with it a broad collection of device-specific tools to populate asset catalogs, monitor system health and performance, send alerts, manage devices, and provide a visual representation of the environment. Larger organizations consolidate much of this information into a monitoring and management framework, with hooks into, and data out of, device-specific tools. But these frameworks are often beyond the budget of smaller IT organizations.
In many smaller organizations, systems and network administrators have often relied on spreadsheets to keep track of devices, and have relied almost exclusively on device-specific tools for health and status. As a result, they often lack an end-to-end view of the environment.
The broad deployment of server virtualization software and the more dynamic application deployment and movement that is enabled by leading virtualization suppliers, however, creates a more challenging monitoring and management problem for network administrators. Discrete tools and spreadsheets will not typically be sufficient to meet the needs of network and server administrators in highly-virtualized environments.
Recently, agentless consolidated tools that leverage the broad support for SNMP have become available. These consolidated tools are simple to deploy and maintain. Although they may lack some of the automated management of larger frameworks and the ability to integrate with device-specific tools, they typically provide a solution that is affordable by smaller organizations and offer a sufficient level of monitoring and alerting for most devices in the environment. These tools can eliminate much of the need for device-specific monitoring tools, allowing organizations to reduce training and provide more complete, end-to-end monitoring of a dynamic virtual environment.
Terms in existing management software license agreements may limit the initial savings and simplification that may come from consolidating into a single network management framework. Some device-specific tools may still be needed when SNMP doesn't provide the level of detail needed. In those instances, an agent-based monitoring tool may be necessary. That said, having a consolidated tool that can eliminate the bulk of device-specific tools offers savings in contracts management, licenses fees, training, maintenance and support and enables a simplified foundation for maintaining and managing service levels for applications.
Action Item: When it comes time to consider consolidation of management, it is often best to under-promise and over-deliver. In order to properly set expectations, the individual responsible for selecting a comprehensive management tool should:
- Assemble a team with representatives from server management, virtualization management, network management, storage management, and contract management, strategic sourcing, or IT procurement.
- Create a comprehensive list of current tools in use and the level of asset detail, monitoring, and alerting provided by each of the tools.
- Review each of the current management software licenses for license expiration dates and maintenance renewal periods.
- Select dates for implementation of new tools and retirement of legacy tools, recognizing that all tools may not be replaced at the same time.
- Provide an opportunity for specialists in each of the disciplines to maintain device-specific tools, when necessary to provide more comprehensive levels of monitoring, alerting, and management.