The Channel Happy Hour
By Kristen Stenglein, West Monroe Partners
Flexibility is the key to success as a managed service provider. We manage an increasingly complex and distributed IT landscape. This requires visibility into client environments including traditional, cloud and software-defined everything architectures; without it, one cannot effectively manage or orchestrate client technology stacks. MSPs simply cannot afford performance visibility gaps caused by rapid changes to infrastructure. As a result, performance monitoring is taking on more importance.
The performance monitoring needs of an MSP are different from the needs of an enterprise. The economics of our business requires a future-proof monitoring solution that is scalable, easy to deploy and works across a client space that varies widely by industry and geography. But what exactly should one look for?
I recently led efforts at West Monroe Partners to replace our legacy, on-premises performance monitoring solution, which had begun failing as we tested its capabilities and scaled into new client infrastructures. Our previous tool also had become our most expensive application to maintain both from a hardware perspective, and the amount of staff time it took to manage it. As we evaluated performance monitoring solutions, six criteria surfaced as mandatory for our MSP business.
- Automatically discover and monitor infrastructure. As an MSP, we monitor environments and devices that we do not pick. As clients add technologies and endpoints, we need to have the flexibility to monitor them without manual configuration and extra effort. At deployment, our performance monitoring tool should be able to scan across all client environments, automatically detect and add new devices, and auto-configure monitoring, so we can immediately begin measuring performance.
- Multi-tenancy and central data collection. MSPs need more than a monitoring tool; we need a solution that will create efficiencies and generate profit. As such, the ability for the performance monitoring tool to serve different clients with one tool is a tremendous value. Central data collection allows us to provide excellent service and coverage to clients in the most efficient way possible. The more efficient we can be across clients, the better the bottom line.
- Broad pre-built external integrations. Integration with our technology stack was critical to the selection process for a performance monitoring solution. We looked for a solution that had two-way integration with our ITSM work management tool out-of-the-box. This allows us to streamline troubleshooting by updating tickets in external systems based on alert status, and acknowledging escalations initiated from other applications so we can act quickly. If an out-of-the-box integration wasn’t available, we made sure the monitoring tool had a robust open API and was extensible, so we could build our own custom integration for our workflows.
- Granular access control. As an MSP, we need to be able to monitor infrastructure, but also demonstrate that monitoring to our clients in real-time. A performance monitoring tool should allow us to give customers role-based access to their monitoring instances, so they can also have real-time insight into their infrastructure. We needed a performance monitoring solution that allowed for granular role-based access control, that can be customized for user and client privileges including access to device groups, shared dashboards, and API data. This not only saves our teams time by decreasing dependency on manual report creation, but it also creates a greater level of trust and helps with client retention.
- Automated client-facing reports. We know our clients in the C-suite don’t generally spend time inside the monitoring solution, which meant that they wouldn’t necessarily benefit from real-time reporting that comes with shared access. We needed performance monitoring tool to allow the creation of custom reports from executive overviews to technical reviews. We needed a solution that allowed us to set and forget report delivery so that we could focus on what matters – the content of those reports.
- Next-gen benefits of the cloud. As an MSP, we want to maintain our focus on our clients’ infrastructure. Leveraging a cloud-based performance monitoring tool allows us to do that while saving time and vastly reducing our onsite infrastructure and support costs. Because the environment is already in place in the cloud, there is no hardware to purchase, install and manage, and the time to get up and running is minimal. Scaling our monitoring solution to our expanding client base is no longer something to worry about. Upgrades are automatic and do not require downtime, so clients are continuously monitored with no gaps.
Not all performance monitoring solutions cater to the needs of MSPs. My experience is that choosing a solution purpose-built for service providers is a game changer. At West Monroe, we selected LogicMonitor’s Service Provider Platform to support the next generation of technologies that our customers adopt. By making the move to cloud-based performance monitoring with key automations, integrations, and reporting, we can spot trends early—and fix them—before our clients even notice an issue.