In my last blog post, I began laying out the case that troubleshooting can be a challenging endeavor, especially when dealing with multiple disciplines (silos) in a larger IT organization. More often than not, it becomes a race to innocence between the groups, with each trying to prove that they are not the problem. The trouble is, nobody is trying to figure out what the problem really is. They just want to know it's not them. As I pointed out, that can largely be attributed to a lack of good tools, though that's less and less of an issue in today's world.
While many organizations have already taken steps to reduce the effect of silos on IT operations, challenges still abound; chief among them is the disparate collection of tools each group uses. Because different tools all represent data in myriad ways, even as cooperation is fostered, roadblocks still remain. Luckily, someone has done something about all of this, and is providing a tool that cuts across multiple disciplines.
Solarwinds' new PerfStack product, a part of the Orion Platform of network monitoring applications, aggregates multiple data points from across the range of products in that suite. As the Orion suite is very widely adopted, centralizing the collected data is a no-brainer. Solarwinds is already deployed in many NOCs, and having the ability to perform cross-discipline troubleshooting from within the same tool should prove invaluable.
While Solarwinds has always been on point with their solutions, and has had systems monitoring dashboards for some time, those dashboards have not necessarily been dynamic. That's not a bad thing, it's just a function of their purpose; NOC monitoring does not typically require quick changes of information displays (dashboards) on a regular basis. Frequently, the dynamic troubleshooting has been handled by various point tools. Perfstack fixes these issues, and more.
PerfStack can now create dashboards on the fly, filled with all of the pertinent pieces of data needed to remediate a problem. More than that, however, they can give another user that same dashboard, who can then add their own bits and bobs. You are effectively building up a grouping of monitoring inputs consisting of cross-platform data points, making troubleshooting across silos seamless in a way that it has never been before.
By way of example, the networking team typically fields initial trouble tickets that involve nebulous symptoms of "can't get there from here," or "something, something, really slow." That team would use whatever point tools at their disposal to look for potential issues, beginning at layer-1 with cabling, optics, etc., and progressing, as needed, up through the stack until a problem is found. At some point, assuming the problem is elsewhere (c'mon, it's never really the network) the trouble ticket gets passed off to security, perhaps, or applications, storage, wherever. But at that point all historical information in the point system is unavailable to the new team who must start from scratch. That is inefficient at best. PerfStack flips that modality on its head, and allows teams to share data from the initial investigation through to an eventual resolution.
With everything in IT connected at such a fundamental level so as to be inseparable on any practical level, the era of point solutions really should be relegated to the IT trash bin, an anachronistic relic of our past. PerfStack is one of the first serious products, built upon a proven technology platform, to usher in this new paradigm in root-cause analysis and remediation. Solarwinds was uniquely positioned to create this product, and while it would disingenuous to say that they've invented this new space, they have certainly capitalized on a need, executed a flawless solution, and dramatically accelerated the time-to-value over what I can now safely call legacy approaches.