Observations from Gartner Datacenter conference

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde – there is only one thing worse than having no monitoring. And that is having monitoring. Or at least that can be the case when you have too many monitoring systems.

LogicMonitor was recently at the Gartner Data Center conference in Las Vegas. The attendees were somewhat larger enterprises (think General Motors) than the majority of our customer base, but shared many of the same goals – and problems – of smaller enterprises. One problem smaller enterprises do not share was the degree of proliferation of monitoring systems, and the problems this causes. Some companies had over 40 monitoring systems in place (more than one hundred for a few) – and all the commensurate silos that go with them. This means for non-trivial problems, resolving an issue often means getting many people into a war room, so the issue can be investigated and traced across the many monitoring systems, by the many people in all their fiefdoms.

There was an informal consensus that when a problem involves multiple silos, resolution was at least 3 to 4 days, as opposed to hours when it didn’t.  This makes running multiple monitoring systems (which help create silos of operational people) a very expensive proposition. At LogicMonitor we often help companies consolidate from 10 or 12 monitoring systems to LogicMonitor plus one or two others, but the benefits in consolidating 40 or more walking dead monitoring systems would be huge.

Some of the other more interesting observations from the conference talks:

96% of IT budgets are spent keeping the lights on – running or upgrading datacenter servers and infrastructure. Only 4% of the budget was for innovation of systems and processes.  The recommendation to improve this was to adopt SaaS applications, which will free up infrastructure and its associated costs and management, allowing much more focus on innovation. (Otherwise those next 5 servers you need to add to your application housed in your at-capacity datacenter will cost you a new datacenter, as well as 5 servers.)

The end state that most enterprises foresee is the hybrid cloud. Some core systems will never be run in the cloud. 17% of enterprises regard their biggest challenge as formulating a strategy to guide, deal with, monitor and manage the cloud, hybrid clouds, and private clouds.

I.T. will continue to be responsible for their customers’ experience with applications – even if those applications are entirely cloud based, or built using cloud services as components. Cloud services initiatives will fail frequently unless IT is involved in procurement to discuss security, life cycles, performance, SLAs.

So, to summarize – Enterprises will continue to hold their key IT assets close to their own chests, while requiring that their staff become proficient in managing, monitoring and consolidating the growing use of cloud based infrastructure (such as EC2); services (such as Dynamo DB or Twilio) and applications (e.g. Gmail, Salesforce) in order to wrest efficiency from their own operations.

Sounds like business as usual for enterprise IT – everything is changing, again.  We live in interesting times.