To Monitor or Not to Monitor? Is That Really the Question?

November 22, 2016 Uncategorized

Should we monitor our IT systems? If so, what should we monitor, how often, and to what level? Our IT systems have become highly integrated parts of our businesses. They increase our productivity, our ability to communicate, and in some instances, the ability to conduct business at all. They have become critical parts and their continued operation is necessary; as such I will spend the next 2 blog posts covering this subject. In this one, I will discuss the matter of monitoring. In the next post, I will break down what to monitor.

The answer to the question of should we monitor our IT systems is a ‘yes.’ If it were that simple to convince management, then this blog post would end here. However, we all know better than that. I aim to arm you with some solid reasons to monitor to help you make a good case in order to make you look like the IT hero that you are. We will explore the following reasons to monitor your IT systems.

  1. Maximizing Uptime
  2. Optimizing Your Network

Every organization wants their IT system to be available 24 hours a day with no interruptions. We also know that this isn’t always possible. Monitoring can help us maximize uptime by preparing us for problems, anticipating outages, and allowing us to plan ahead. Let’s explore each of these.

How does monitoring prepare us for problems? Have you ever wished you knew that a piece of equipment was down before the CEO or a client called you? With monitoring, you can. When the CEO calls, you can let them know that you are already working towards resolution. When properly setup, most monitoring systems will continuously check pieces of equipment to make sure that they are up and operating. These keepalive pulses are essential. They tell us when a piece of our network has stopped working or has stopped responding. Another great way monitoring prepares us for problems is that we can measure uptime and the time between reboots. If a piece of gear is operating for 365 straight days, we can proactively prepare to reboot it.

This brings us to anticipating outages. As stated earlier, we can set alerts for uptime and set a rebooting schedule. We can also tell when equipment is not operating effectively or in a degraded state. Things like CPU processing power, heat, and bandwidth utilization can all be viewed and thresholds can be set to warn us. It’s almost like you can tell what is going to happen before it even occurs.

We can also maximize uptime by planning ahead. Monitoring allows us to do this by giving us key information about usage and busy times. We can plan an outage when the device is least utilized and minimize the impact that the outage will have. This is key information when it comes to keeping consumers of the equipment happy.

Monitoring can help in optimizing your network by: tracking line traffic, tracking quality and usage, identifying protocols in heavy usage and tracking active connections to identify usage and abnormalities.

Line traffic, quality, and usage can all be monitored. These key elements will allow you optimize your network by identify heavy usage, poor quality and viewing types of traffic going across. If you notice that every time you make video calls that the internet screeches to a halt, your monitoring could tell you it’s time for some QoS adjustments, increasing bandwidth or even considering a separate circuit. Without monitoring, all you know is that your internet connection stinks!

Identifying protocols in heavy usage will allow to best determine when to do certain tasks. For instance, you may want to do data transfers in the middle of the night because it bogs down your connection. Or, you made need to increase bandwidth because of the new CRM system. Without monitoring, you have no data to confirm or deny your conclusions.

Lastly, tracking active connections to identify usage and abnormalities will help you maximize your network by telling you where to look for issues. Is Kevin in accounting surfing the internet too much or has a botnet taken over his computer? Proper monitoring will detect this for you. Did you know that Jim in inside sales is transferring tons of data afterhours? Maybe this is ok because he is landing a big deal. If you do not monitor, you won’t know which connections are gobbling up your bandwidth and slowing your business down!

In wrapping up, I hope I have given you some salient points in favor of monitoring your IT systems. Today’s systems are way too complex not to keep a vigilant eye on. In my next blog, I will cover some key elements to monitor.

jeremy-niedzwiecki-1A proven leader, Jeremy Niedzwiecki has over 20 years in the IT industry. As the Director of Customer Support at ABS, Jeremy works to ensure that the ABS Customer Support team continuously provides the highest levels of support possible ABS clients.