Modern IT infrastructures consist of a multitude of different systems and services. Only with comprehensive monitoring at all levels can IT managers maintain an overview, quickly identify errors and guarantee availability. Five areas in particular are crucial.
The complexity of IT infrastructures has increased significantly due to digitization, cloud computing and the networking of devices and machines in the Internet of Things (IoT). IT managers are faced with an increasing number of IT systems and services to be managed, budget and staffing levels usually do not keep pace with the growing tasks. Among other things, this has consequences for the availability of IT systems and services, as the 2022 Data Center Resiliency Survey by the Uptime Institute shows. Accordingly, IT failures due to software, network and system errors are increasing as a result of increasing complexity. The number of problems caused by human error is also increasing due to increasing complexity.
At the same time, failures have an ever greater impact on a company’s competitiveness. Users of the IT systems and services are no longer just the company’s own employees, but also customers, suppliers and other partners. A non-functioning or unstable IT system can therefore have a serious impact on business success. It’s not just about lost sales or reduced productivity, but also about a company’s image. Availability has therefore become an extremely important asset.
IT systems must also become more and more flexible in order to adapt to rapidly changing framework conditions. Errors can easily creep in with constant modification, which in turn increases the risk of failures or loss of performance.
The five core areas of Unified Monitoring
In order to operate complex heterogeneous IT infrastructures cost-efficiently, securely and with high availability and to be able to adapt them to changing conditions at any time, companies need modern IT system and service management. It must cover the following five areas:
- Collection of all events in the IT infrastructure: In order for those responsible for IT to be able to act quickly and purposefully in the event of disruptions, the information and alarms from all IT systems and services must be collected, brought together at a central point, categorized and visualized. This is the only way to identify and analyze anomalies, problems and trends across systems and services. It is often only possible to find the true cause of a fault with this holistic view of all processes.
- Baseline analysis: Deviations can only be reliably detected if the normal state is known. The absolute values must always be considered in the context of the respective environment and application. Just as a competitive athlete has a different “normal” resting heart rate than an untrained person, irregularities in CPU utilization or latencies, for example, are to be evaluated differently on an Exchange server than on an ERP database server.
- Incident management: In the event of a fault, the troubleshooting phase must be initiated as quickly as possible. The tickets are to be prioritized and forwarded to the right experts. In the event of recurring faults, a root cause analysis is necessary in order to find the real reason for the failure. It should be possible to automate recurring processes in order to relieve IT staff or the service provider of repetitive tasks.
- Performance measurement from the user’s point of view: The best measured values are useless if the performance does not reach the user. A modern IT system and service management therefore includes application performance monitoring (APM) and a consistent end-to-end analysis of performance.
- Log Management and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM): IT systems today are exposed to a variety of cyber threats. Data theft, server encryption and DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service) not only endanger data security, but also availability. Through the collection of log data and correlation algorithms based on it – so-called detection rules or machine learning jobs based on the MITTER ATT&CKKnowledge Base, attacks can be detected and defended against at an early stage. The introduction of a SIEM is another important step in increasing IT security and availability in the company. In it, all events are brought together and correlated. In combination with the other core areas of Unified Monitoring, threats and anomalies can be detected more quickly and alarms can be triggered automatically. For an optimal detection rate, OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) and IoC (Indicator of Compromise) data should be integrated into the SIEM in addition to system events in order to be able to identify bad reputation IP addresses and domains in the log files at an early stage . For example, phishing attacks can already be blocked at the company’s email gateway.
The right way to unified monitoring
Many IT managers shy away from reorganizing their IT system and service management. They fear a mammoth project that consumes budgets and resources and lasts forever. It often makes much more sense to start small and make targeted improvements where the need is greatest. The manufacturer Würth Phoenix supports this approach with a modular structure of its unified monitoring solution NetEye . Thanks to open interfaces, existing tools can be easily integrated into the ecosystem. For example, management environments such as Jira, ServiceNow or Freshdesk can be integrated. In addition, Würth Phoenix supports companies on their way to unified monitoring with consulting and integration services.
Conclusion: With unified monitoring, IT becomes a business enabler
The times when IT was viewed purely as a service organization for the specialist departments are long gone. Today it is an integral part of sustainable business development. New business models are just as unthinkable without them as communication with customers or cooperation with partners. In order to be able to cover new tasks and areas, IT managers need a stable infrastructure that is secure, high-performance and highly available without the effort for administration and further development getting out of hand.
Unified monitoring is the indispensable basis for this. It provides the necessary perspective and provides all the tools and processes to identify, analyze and, if possible, fix problems automatically.