IT Can Wait On The Future



by Dirk Paessler

IT departments and technology vendors have two very distinct viewpoints. IT is laser-focused on “right now,” working diligently to assure business processes and providing services to end users. Technology vendors are in the futures business, constantly selling IT (or, as is often the case, investors) on how to solve “next generation” problems. The disconnect between the two is that in many cases, rank-and-file IT employees do not have next generation problems – they have “right now” problems.

The latest and greatest from leading technology companies promise IT a brave new world, but that doesn’t help an IT department fix a server hangup, improve VoIP call quality or right-size a virtual machine. Technology thought leaders have done a fantastic job winning over venture capitalists, public markets and media, but the IT departments, especially at small businesses, are left behind to do much of the heavy lifting themselves.

IT pros need technology companies that are in their corner, ones that understand the issues they face and have ready-made solutions that are available, not “in the pipeline.” Anyone in the trenches knows that it’s the everyday problems that keep IT up at night. As with many problems, it is important to be proactive in solving them. IT infrastructure is increasingly complex and needs to be operational 24/7. The only way to truly ensure services is to deliver a healthy dose of preventative medicine – the kind that comes from infrastructure monitoring. Outages and crashes are incredibly costly to repair, but preventing them is often times a matter of identifying a minor issue before it becomes a major problem.

While many technology companies are focused on tomorrow, infrastructure monitoring firms are focused on today, helping to solve the problems that IT departments struggle with on a daily basis.

Identifying hardware issues before they happen

IT infrastructure needs constant review, but short-staffed departments do not have the resources to manually check everything that needs attention on a consistent basis. And yet, there are a variety of ways to extract data from hardware systems to gain a deeper understanding of everything from why applications are running slow to the temperature of the servers. Through infrastructure monitoring, IT can get a grip on current trends and understand how resources are used, which makes it easier to prevent unexpected events like server outages. Improving access to the most important details of IT infrastructure is critical.

Less hardware, more problems?

Virtual machines are out of sight, but are never out of mind. It is difficult enough for IT to right-size and provision VMs when they deploy them, but they then have to maintain network speed and performance. Virtualization provides tremendous flexibility, but with that comes the real need to keep track of VMs, how they are used, CPU and RAM, and more. Technology has given IT incredible power through virtualization, but more needs to be done in terms of helping IT tame that power.

Failing Windows Services and Server Hang-Ups

For better or for worse, email drives businesses and most businesses run Outlook. Unfortunately, Outlook issues are one of the most common problems IT has to solve, and they are often time sensitive – lost productivity means lost business. In many cases, the easy fix to Outlook issues is to simply reboot the server it’s running on, which may sound simple, but if email hosted in New York goes down for a company that does business, or has offices, around the world, it’s a major problem. Giving IT the power to set customized alerts and receive them through email, SMS or push notifications gives them immediate notice when something is wrong and, more importantly, time to fix a minor issue before it becomes a major problem.

Spotting attacks and keeping data safe

It has become clear that antivirus alone is not enough to defend against the threats businesses face, but at many small businesses, antivirus is all they have. Yet, there is an enormous amount of network data available that can tip off IT to a cyberattack. Visibility into networks can reveal the types of behavior associated with malware, whether its uncommon traffic, CPU spikes, or brute force login attempts. IT needs all products, not just security products, to provide the kind of visibility that will let them address malicious behavior as well as run of the mill performance issues.

Being a friend to IT – even the little guy

The explosive growth of IT has not, and likely will never be, matched by an explosive growth in IT staffing. Especially at small businesses, IT professionals have to learn to do more with less. While technology vendors can’t change that, they can do more to support them. By focusing on everyday problems, infrastructure and network monitoring companies help IT proactively solve problems and keep an eye on the entire infrastructure, even when they can’t. It’s easy for technology companies to cast an eye to the future, but when it comes to what keeps IT administrators up at night, solving “right now” problems is just fine.

Dirk Paessler is the CEO and founder of Paessler AG, makers of the PRTG network monitoring software.

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