By Joe Kim, SolarWinds Chief Technology Officer


We all know that network monitoring is absolutely essential for government IT pros to help ensure IT operations are running at optimal performance. That said, with so many tools available, it’s tempting to monitor everything. But be careful: monitoring everything can quickly turn into too much of a good thing.


Having an excessive number of monitoring tools and alerts can result in conflicting metrics and data, overly complex systems, and significant management challenges all working together to undermine an administrators’ ability to accurately identify true network problems.


Understanding why, and for whom, systems are monitored, will help IT pros implement the needed tools and be the most useful for enhancing agency IT operations.


The Importance of Monitoring


Remember, monitoring is critical. The cost of downtime alone makes monitoring operational metrics a necessity. In fact, the value of monitoring is sometimes the driver for “over-monitoring." Some IT pros may think, “The more tools I have, the more insight I get.”


The countless number and type of monitoring tools available have increased from monitoring bandwidth, security systems, servers, code management, and implementation metrics, all the way to high-level operational metrics.


Unfortunately, most of these tools work independently, and agencies will patch several tools together -- each providing different metrics -- to create a massive monitoring system. With this complex system, monitoring becomes a task in and of itself, taking up IT pros’ valuable time instead of providing a seamless foundation of accurate and actionable monitoring data.


Agencies must make smart decisions to remain nimble and keep pace, and that means avoiding mammoth, costly monitoring systems. Solutions that neatly aggregate an agency’s preferred metrics deliver better availability, security, and performance.


Find an ideal monitoring solution by evaluating the response to two questions:


For whom am I monitoring? Are metrics more important to the operations engineer, the project manager, or agency management? There may be a wide array of monitoring needs, even within the engineering contingent. Determine in advance your monitoring “customer.”


What metrics do I really need? What is required to keep things running smoothly, without drowning in alerts and data? Too many alerts and too much data is a frighteningly common problem. Even worse, investing in a separate tool for each is costly and inefficient.


In a nutshell, agencies should identify the most valuable audience and metrics to avoid the need for multiple tools.


Focus on the Data


Remember, the point of monitoring is to inform operational decisions based on collected data. This should be the point that drives monitoring decisions, and the reason to consider investing in a comprehensive monitoring tool.


With an increasing demand for a more digital government, maintaining insights into the infrastructure and application level of the IT operations within the agency is critical. Focusing on the audience and the agency’s specific needs will help ensure a streamlined monitoring solution that that helps drive mission success.


Find the full article on Government Computer News.