IT Monitoring Spurs Innovation and Results

By Samuel Greengard Print this article Print

A new study reveals that innovative business models depend on a strong foundation of IT monitoring.

By Samuel Greengard

Clouds and big data are transforming the enterprise. However, a new study conducted by CA Technologies and Forrester Consulting, "Evolve Infrastructure Management Into Service Assurance," has found that achieving maximum performance requires more than a well-defined strategy and the right combination of IT systems. A strategic service assurance portfolio underpinned by infrastructure management is essential.

Forrester, which surveyed 150 IT leaders in North America and Western Europe, found that a number of problems and challenges exist, and organizations must find a way to elevate infrastructure management to a core competency. Many problems are self-inflicted and revolve around ownership, fragmentation and a tendency to find vendor scapegoats.

In fact, the lack of a consolidated and focused vision leads to myopic investment priorities. Only 27 percent of North American firms reported "good" to "excellent" ROI for infrastructure management and monitoring tools.

"Infrastructure monitoring has long been considered passé as newer, sexier technologies such as virtualization and cloud computing have grabbed the spotlight," says Forrester principal analyst Glenn O'Donnell. "Monitoring is in a poor state despite extraordinary investments over the past 20 years." In order to succeed at newer initiatives such as clouds, mobility and service management, monitoring tools must be solid and stable, he notes.

Fragmentation of infrastructure destroys value and is estimated to cost the business community upward of $350 billion over a 20-year span, Forrester reports. The study found that isolated tools are typically a poor investment. Too often, owners view these tools as secondary considerations, and poor integration results in an inability to deliver visibility into the behavior and availability of services.

Overall, 30 percent of North American executives reported that primary domain experts "own" infrastructure management and monitoring tools;12 percent said the task falls under the umbrella of a consolidated tools team; 31 percent indicated that both share a large portion of ownership;, 14 percent designate the task to a service management processes team; 10 percent report that ownership is highly fragmented or unknown; and only 1 percent occurs at the business unit level.

While convergence is taking place, many organizations struggle to overcome internal political challenges. Most early consolidation efforts haven't yielded integrated capabilities, O'Donnell says.

Thirty-two percent of respondents noted that their organization has placed consolidation tools into a unified portfolio, but they admitted "we're not there yet." Twenty-three percent said the tools are consolidated into a unified architecture, but end-to-end visibility is limited.

Finally, Forrester found the way in which a business purchases tools affects how those tools can be integrated. Single- vendor portfolios aren't a panacea, but neither is a fragmented best-of-breed approach. Ideally, organizations use a "shopping mall" approach that focuses on an anchor vendor,  augmented with boutique-type applications and capabilities.

O'Donnell says that organizations must look beyond technology tools as a "silver bullet" for solving IT management and monitoring challenges. In the end, it's necessary to build a sound architecture for the management software portfolio, gravitate toward an anchor-centric model, focus on economics rather than technology and consolidate tools and people. "The biggest issue is people," he concludes. "It's essential to empower and fund the right people to achieve more complete service visibility."

This article was originally published on 2013-05-01
Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.
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