Friday, December 20, 2013

A Hammer for Every Nail

I spend a lot of time at Home Depot. A lot.
You know how it is: every time you start a new project at home, you go out of buy a whole new set of tools specifically for that job, right? The hammer you bought to hang those picture frames can't possibly be used to attach wheels to a pinewood derby car. Or maybe advances in hammer technology have made your old hammers obsolete, so you're compelled to purchase a new one every few years. You still keep the others around, though. Just in case.

Note: Only insane people do this.

Tools perform tasks, not projects

You buy a hammer to drive nails, not just nails for a single project. When another project comes along, you use the same tools, as long as those tools are suited for the job. You certainly do not buy a hammer for every nail you drive.

Now take this approach to tools, and apply it to enterprise monitoring.

In large organizations, it's common for each application, service, or portion of infrastructure to have its own monitoring tools. Exchange is monitored by Exchange monitoring tools. Storage is monitored by storage monitoring tools. And so it is with all of the technologies in use. Each project has its own hammer. And thanks for institutionalized silos (both organizational and cultural) tools shall not be shared.

This doesn't sound so bad. Is this bad?

I took the photo of hammers at Home Depot to prove a point. Yes, if you are so inclined and well funded, you can absolutely buy a hammer for every nail. Load up a shopping cart with 100 hammers and go through the check-out. (On a side note, if you actually do this, please please please send me a picture.) Use each hammer for a single nail.

Or at the office, go ahead and buy a monitoring solution every time you stand up a new service. Load up your budget with Tivoli, BSM, SolarWinds, ManageEngine, Quest, and whatever else you can find. Total up the costs and get your manager to approve it. (On a side note, if you actually do this, please please please send me a picture.) Use each monitoring solution for a single service.

What's the point?

The point is this: if you approach enterprise monitoring differently for each service, you're doing it wrong. If you currently have a spreadsheet of the 40-50 "enterprise" monitoring tools you have in your environment, you're doing it wrong.

Instead, survey the services and applications that your IT department provides to your users. Build out requirements for a true enterprise monitoring solution (which will likely be a combination of tools, yes, but the combination should be intentional and complementary). Invest in a tool to monitor your enterprise. That's the perspective you'll want to have. You'll reduce costs and complexity by relying on fewer, more powerful tools.