Tool Sprawl? MSP Monitoring without the Chaos

Too Many Tools
Birmingham-based TekLinks is one of the top managed service providers (MSPs) in the world. A long-time LogicMonitor customer and partner, TekLinks owns and operates three data centers and services more than a thousand customers, making it a true enterprise. The success and rapid growth of the company, along with business acquisitions and individual software procurement resulted in a classic case of “too many tools” for the sophisticated MSP.

MSP monitoring solutions need to do more than just provide visibility. They need to extract and deliver powerful business insight to drive results. For TekLinks to grow to the next level successfully, they needed to simplify their toolset, consolidate vendors and empower users within the organization with insight into how their entire IT infrastructure was performing….from data centers to devices and applications. The combination of a thoughtful approach, considered processes and the implementation of LogicMonitor, resulted in a very successful tool consolidation project. They were guided by three steps to get there:

#1. Create a single source of alerting for internal operators and customers
TekLinks had multiple monitoring systems in place prior to consolidation. Some solutions provided text alerts, others sent alerts exlusively via email, and some didn’t alert at all. There was no single way to have visibility into all the systems by everyone on the team. And the lack of key platform features like role-based access control and multi-tenancy meant their customers had no visibility into the systems being managed.

The requirement seemed simple: allow every team and individual in the organization to have access to the same information to address issues, and allow customers access to the same information, securely. But did such a solution exist? None of their existing monitoring solutions fulfilled this basic requirement.

#2. Identify services architectures
TekLinks needed to understand all the various services architectures and their dependencies to truly understand the scope of the monitoring that needed to be deployed. In some cases, TekLinks had hardware that operated in a silo, and the monitoring system needed to see into every layer of the hardware stack. Additionally, in TekLink’s case, every customer needed its own security zone, so the chosen monitoring tool could not be deployed in a centralized network with firewalls and private connections to gain the needed visibility. That would be too complex.

To add to the architecture complexity, TekLinks works with some of the largest hardware vendors in the world in addition to several highly customized, open-source technologies. The deployment needed to work with everything from basic Cisco switches to temperature control systems in the datacenter. The LogicMonitor platform was the only solution that met these requirements. Beyond that, because LogicMonitor is SaaS-based, there was no need to allocate any of the existing infrastructure to run the monitoring platform. The agentless solution sits outside of the system being monitored, which means it stays running even during an outage.

#3. Understand who you want to notify, and how
TekLinks not only needed a “single source of truth” for internal operations, they also required it to provide operational transparency to customers. Thanks to LogicMonitor’s multi-tenancy and granular role-based access control, TekLinks is able to share data used by the NOC team, alerting customers to issues when and where appropriate.

Offering LogicMonitor as a single solution has helped TekLinks grow their business. Because the entire organization can view customer monitoring data, the sales team can identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities and proactively alert their customers with solutions.

The Importance of Business Outcomes
Over the course of this process, TekLinks found that first and foremost, they needed to start from the business outcomes and work backwards. Build a Policy and Procedures Statement that documents how information should flow. Make sure all stakeholders clearly understand these policies and their impact. Making a change will often require buy-in when introducing new tools and procedures. Here, too, LogicMonitor helps ease the transition by allowing product, engineering, sales and management teams see real value in a truly integrated environment.

In the end, TekLink’s consolidation project succeeded not just because they chose the right monitoring solution. It worked because the organization was willing to constantly improve their internal processes. They realized that even one of the top MSPs in the world can get better, and do more to make good on their promises.