E-Handbook: Balance the power and challenges of IT monitoring Article 1 of 4

Monitoring is sometimes an ally, sometimes an enemy

Like the systems and applications they watch over, IT monitoring tools have grown in complexity in recent years. Some of today's advanced monitoring products can offer IT operations teams detailed information in real time -- or, at least, in something akin to real time.

That in-the-moment awareness helps admins swiftly recognize and react to problems. A sophisticated, real-time monitoring system is a significant and expensive installation. And, to capitalize on its features, an organization may need to identify ways to keep its IT operations team plugged into the tool around the clock. If an IT shop can't offer an immediate response, real-time monitoring may not be worth the trouble.

This handbook examines the advantages and challenges inherent in this attempt to conduct real-time IT monitoring. Sure, it can be done. What are the tradeoffs? And for what applications will it make the most sense?

In this era of distributed apps, real-time monitoring is no small feat. Certain organizations, though, will find real value here. As IT instructor Brian Kirsch says in this handbook's featured article, application-specific, real-time monitoring lets a business see what its customers see. And, if end users hit trouble, the ops team needs to know right away -- not tomorrow or next Monday after someone runs a report.

Beyond application monitoring per se, operations staff members must decipher all they can glean from their IT monitoring tools. Good monitoring tools can gather a heap of data, but they don't necessarily prioritize or make sense of that data.

This handbook offers tips on how ops teams can more adeptly walk the line between being effectively proactive and frustratingly reactive. A good strategy, the right tools and knowing which metrics matter most to your business will help to raise your monitoring game. Let's get started.