Every enterprise business IT department knows and understands the value and importance of a monitoring system. Solutions like Microsoft System Center, IBM Tivoli, AVG Managed Workplace, HP Remedy ad ManageEngine are the backbone that link the hardware and software of the business with the fast, effective support and automation that proactively minimizes down time and ensures things are available when needed.
Ensuring systems are available by minimizing downtime is equally, if not perhaps more important in a small or midsized business environment. With fewer resources and places to turn when things go wrong, keeping things running smoothly is critical.
Most IT people understand the value of effective systems monitoring and often look to implement some sort of solution on their own. Below I have outlined 5 reasons why this is not a good idea.
1. Free or open source solutions don’t make the grade
Small businesses cannot afford the licensing and maintenance costs of the best of breed solutions mentioned above. This leaves open source or low cost hosted solutions as the only viable option. While these tools can provide a subset of functionality, integrating them with your IT introduces a wide range of risks that include but are not limited to performance degradation, privacy concerns and security.
2. Your IT person doesn’t have the expertise
It is very rare to find an IT person that has the skills and knowledge to correctly implement an in-house monitoring solution. Take this from someone with 25 years of experience as an IT person. In the enterprise it takes a team to plan, deploy and effectively utilize a monitoring platform. Simply deciding what processes or services should be monitored and how alerts should be handled draws upon many skills.
3. Your IT person doesn’t have the time
Your IT person is tasked with a number of things, supporting end users, performing maintenance on your systems, taking care of backups and security and likely proposing and implementing business solutions that help you drive growth and profitability. Correctly implementing a monitoring solution is a time consuming project that will draw a considerable amount of time away from these tasks. This presents a problem, the more time spent on this project the less time for the day to day tasks.
4. Monitoring systems need nurturing and care
I have visited many businesses where monitoring systems have been put in place but are not providing the expected return on investment. This is because for the solution to be effective it needs to be updated, improved and managed on an ongoing basis. This is not a set it and forget it type of tool. Alerts need to be analysed, patterns recognized and improvements made for real results to be seen.
5. Monitoring is only part of a larger picture
Let’s say that your IT person has implemented a monitoring system. It has eyes on your critical systems and alerts are being generated when problems occur. Monitoring is only part of the solution, alerts need to generate appropriate response. In a mature enterprise system this could be to execute scripts that initiate a set of automated processes to correct the issue. In other cases it might open and populate a service ticket that would be assigned to a technician with appropriate skills to resolve the problem. This means additional development time and more time your IT person will be unable to focus on higher-level work that will help you grow.
In conclusion, a properly configured monitoring solution offers the same benefits to a small or medium business that it does at the enterprise level. Productivity improvements, reduced down time, the ability to identify and proactively prevent problems are all very real advantages. The problem is that small businesses generally do not have the resources to implementing and maintaining their own solution.