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Four reasons to start with system-wide visibility

John Gentry.

IT professionals are struggling to understand the health, utilization and performance of their infrastructure, writes John Gentry, vice president of marketing and alliances for Virtual Instruments. 

From national security to transportation, our nation’s most critical functions are powered by IT, but what happens when that technology is not performing up to the public’s expectations? Imagine trying to identify and prevent a cyberattack, only to find your IT system is experiencing latency issues. When IT infrastructure performance affects the well-being of a nation, subpar performance is not an option.

Government agency application infrastructures are made up of myriad components that are built over time, creating highly complex heterogeneous environments. While modern layers of the stack may have some basic device management built-in, these tools are incapable of monitoring systemwide performance. And the legacy components that have been present since the 1990s do not have these self-monitoring capabilities at all, resulting in a frustrating amount of time being spent on reactive IT troubleshooting as problems arise.

These system compositions leave IT professionals struggling to understand the health, utilization and performance of their infrastructure. Without incorporating independent, proactive monitoring and optimization technologies that can handle these complex environments, performance and availability management is just a guessing game.

To top it off, administration mandates are causing agency IT teams to migrate their applications and infrastructures to cloud and hybrid cloud environments, but with such complex systems already in place, this transition is especially complicated. The challenge becomes monitoring and responding to IT performance across the entire ecosystem, from the network and storage layers to the applications, in such a way as to ensure guaranteed availability for critical information in sensitive circumstances – a guarantee that government agencies must prove they are meeting on a regular basis. Executing on this requirement has to begin with granular visibility into all aspects of data center activity.

Why is systemwide visibility into infrastructure performance so important? There are four key reasons:

  • It ensures the performance outlined in your service level agreement: As more agencies move into the cloud, they are banking their performance metrics on agreed-upon SLAs with their cloud providers, but often have little in the way of accountability or external confirmation that these deliverables are being met. These performance rates are not intended to be aspirational, so if end users cannot be sure they’re being upheld, that should be a major concern. Agencies need guaranteed performance and insight into any issues so they can quickly resolve performance problems and have full confidence in the output of their cloud environments. Without guaranteed performance levels, end users can experience a variety of problems, including slow application response.
  • It enables efficient data center consolidation: Agencies are collapsing, migrating and operating consolidated infrastructures in an effort to improve operational efficiencies and modernize outdated IT assets, ultimately reducing costs. Holistic visibility before, during and after migration helps teams to anticipate and diagnose problems quickly, easing the stress of consolidation and accelerating the return in these initiatives.
  • It enforces the enterprisewide application model: As a direct result of the aforementioned mandates, agencies are in effect being required to lead the charge toward enterprisewide applications, such as CRM and email. The success of the enterprisewide application model depends on an agreeable experience for the end user, so any performance issues in this area can undermine an agency’s efforts. While agencies may not have a choice about whether or not they make these IT moves in the first place, they can take the steps to ensure such moves go smoothly by incorporating independent audits and systemic optimization, resulting in a positive outcome for all parties.
  • It ends the internal IT blame game: Traditional agency IT teams are siloed based on which area of the infrastructure environment they support. For example, the relationship between database and storage operators is usually hallmarked by opposition, as each team passes the responsibility for outages and performances issues to the other. Holistic visibility takes the guesswork out of performance issues, eliminating the finger-pointing and encouraging cooperation and problem-solving. The end result? More innovation on the IT front.

Infrastructure performance management enables government IT teams to transform monitoring data into the answers and situational awareness they need to keep things running smoothly and predictably. Using real-time analytics to understand the issues that live within a data center environment, IT teams can identify emergent issues before they become problems,  and often prevent outages altogether.

It’s no secret that the federal government is tasked with executing at a high level with limited resources in an effort to make prudent use of taxpayer dollars. With this in mind, government IT can use IPM to help save an average of 50 percent on infrastructure and related costs. At the same time they can shift forever from endless cycles of reactive troubleshooting, to proactively ensuring the health, utilization and performance of their IT infrastructures — and accomplish their mission of driving the highest performance at the optimal cost and lowest risk.

About the Author

John Gentry is vice president of marketing and alliances at Virtual Instruments.

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