2010
09.23

I just read a story about how Oracle consolidated their internal systems management   They decided to invest in a legacy-style solution based on SNMP and ping.  One of the things I noticed was that Oracle wanted to do lots of customization, be able to get access to the underneath data so they could manipulate it, integrate it, etc.

This is how not to do monitoring in a modern IT infrastructure.

In 1st year of college, we were taught about different ways you could buy software:

  1. Write it yourself: Takes lots of time/skills and has hidden longterm costs.
  2. Buy or download something cheap off the shelf that does 80% of what you need.  You spend a very long time trying to get the other 20%.  It ends up not working quite right and it costs you a fortune, especially when it fails and you have to replace it – of course, the more common approach is to live with the failure and pitch a story that it is fantastic.  I call this the “I’m in government” approach.
  3. Spend a little bit more money up front, buy a solution that does what you need, is easily customizable, and will work.

In Ireland, approach number 2 is the most commonly taken road.  Ping/SNMP cheapware is what most organizations waste their money and time on.  A server responding to ping does not make it healthy.  A green icon for a server that is monitored by a few SNMP rules that took you an age to assemble does not make it healthy.

Instead what is needed is a monitoring solution that has indepth expertise in the network … all of it … from the hardware, up through to the applications, has ana additional client perspective, and can assemble all of that into the (ITIL) service point of view.  Such a solution may cost a little buit more but:

  • It works out of the box, requiring just minor (non-engineering) changes along the way.
  • The monitoring expertise is usually provided by the orginal vendor or an expert third party.
  • The solution will be cheaper in the long term.

No guesses required to tell which solution I recommend, based on experience.  I’ve tried the rest: I was certified in CA’s Unicenter (patch-tastic!), I got a brief intro to BMC Patrol, I’ve seen teams of Tivoli consultants fail to accomplish anything after 6 months of efforts, and I’ve seen plenty of non-functional cheapware along the way.  One solution always worked, out of the box, and gave me results within a few hours of effort.  System Center Operations Manager just works.  There’s lots of sceptics and haters but, in my experience,  they usually have an agenda, e.g. they were responsible for buying the incumbant solution that isn’t quite working.  There is also the cousin of OpsMgr, SCE 2010, for the SME’s.

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