Not So Elusive: A Unified Monitoring Reality Check

RealityCheck I attended the Gartner Data Center Conference in December 2013 in Las Vegas, during which Colin Fletcher and Jonah Kowall gave a presentation titled “The Elusive Promise of Unified Monitoring: How to Monitor Infrastructure and Applications.”  The presentation put forward Gartner’s recommendation that organizations move away from client/server-era frameworks and their agent-heavy collection of acquired technologies and replace them with a unified, centrally coordinated monitoring effort that includes:

  • A unified monitoring platform that uses lightweight, agentless collection methods

  • Log analysis to help bridge enterprise silos in areas like security

  • Specialized performance diagnostic tools (such as APM) to help identify early KPI indicators, tune performance, and do complex troubleshooting or capacity planning

Given that Zenoss is one of the Unified Monitoring vendors Gartner highlighted, it’s really not surprising that I wholeheartedly agree with their assessment and recommendations.  But I walked away from the presentation thinking there was a broader – and frankly more impactful – conversation that every IT organization should be having.  Unified monitoring isn’t the destination.  It’s actually just the beginning for something much bigger:  Unified IT Operations.

Technological innovations, especially cloud paradigms, are forcing IT organizations to redefine how they are going to deliver the IT services of the future – and that means unifying how the organization approaches IT operations.  Since just about every IT Service I can think of spans multiple organizational silos, we simply can’t keep operating in silos with independent and non-integrated monitoring tools.  On the other end of the spectrum are the brittle antiquated client-server era frameworks from the Big-4 (BMC, IBM, HP, and CA).  I am relieved that Gartner is encouraging organizations to select a unified monitoring platform, move away from frameworks, and sparingly use silo-oriented specialty tools, like APM, to fill gaps.

Unified monitoring gives you a rock solid foundation to start building Unified IT Operations.  It is a platform that can take data from directly managed resources or literally any monitoring tool you have laying around – those specialty tools Gartner mentioned or others – and consolidate that data into a meaningful, accurate model of your infrastructure and services.  That is incredibly powerful instrument for getting your IT organization on the same page – or as one of our customer’s puts it, “creating a single source of truth.”

Once you understand what the reality of today really looks like, pulling together to make it fit your aspirations for tomorrow is a whole lot easier.  There’s nothing elusive about it if you ask me.