Tips for network infrastructure monitoring tools

If the network infrastructure of any company suffers a failure like for instance, the company’s systems are down for an average of 45 minutes, the costs of a breakdown can amount to several million dollars per company. Therefore, infrastructure monitoring tools are an important piece of equipment in any IT environment for monitoring the status of company systems.

Network infrastructure monitoring tools
Network infrastructure monitoring tools | Image by Dirk Wouters from Pixabay

These network infrastructure monitoring tools solutions are also ideal for small and medium-sized IT environments to improve their reliability. This software continuously monitors server racks, including power supply and climate control, to detect any problems and inform technicians or building security as soon as possible in the event of an emergency.

Reducing the complexity of solutions in IT infrastructure monitoring tools

At the outset, IT administrators need to make sure beforehand to reduce the complexity of the monitoring solution. Instead of using all available infrastructure monitoring services (IMS), it is advisable to focus on the key indicators around power management, availability and security-related parameters.

Network infrastructure monitoring tools (IMS):

An extension of IMS support to monitor ITIL-oriented processes will overload any medium-sized IT. Therefore, the project should be split into several complete subprojects to implement the IMS software in different infrastructure components progressively.

An important factor in increasing reliability is the monitoring of the entire power supply up to the server. Uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems, for example, have to intervene in the event of a fault and separate the primary circuit from the secondary circuit and filter out any disturbances in the network. UPS monitoring is therefore essential.

Coolers for cooling the IT infrastructure, including heat dissipation, should always be checked.

Question on infrastructure monitoring services structures

Operational concepts and responsibilities have historically grown. With the introduction of a new IMS solution, IT managers must question existing structures. By reorganizing responsibilities, cost centres can be allocated more reasonably, or alarms can be implemented more practically if, for example, building security is directly included in the alarm chain.

Currently, IT infrastructure monitoring tools can be implemented in all areas at an affordable cost. Vendors supply universal application controllers for the integration of third-party devices, e.g. home automation. Flexibly configurable protocol converters send the desired measured values to the IT control centre, unified monitoring.

Clarify security requirements

An initial assessment helps to determine the security requirements for the IT infrastructure in the company. The main questions include: Which IT systems are vital to the company? Which administrative tasks must be permanently carried out on the IT systems? Are our IT specialists constantly available? Is there only one IT location or several?

Using these and other questions, technicians can assess the security requirements in the first step and draw a concept for monitoring from it.

At a minimum, temperature, power supply, access security and fire protection must be monitored in the systems. If the water and heating pipes in an old building run through the same room as the server racks, investing in a leak detector makes sense.

The components for climate control and ensuring power supply and distribution communicate with the management software via standard network protocols. In addition, sensors can be connected to the console for numerous operating parameters, such as humidity, current consumption, rack doors’ opening status, and temperature.

The software can also be connected to facility management via standardized interfaces, e.g. to BACnet, a network protocol for building security. A very accurate picture of the current status of IT systems and the associated infrastructure can be created from the overall data picture.

Achieve greater cost transparency

With a network infrastructure monitoring application, costs in the data centre can be optimized and broken down more transparently. This is helpful if IT infrastructure and facilities management are equally involved in the operation of the infrastructure environment. Clarity on key figures and trends and consumer-oriented billing help the organization be cost-effective and ring-fence costs in all areas.

If you want to optimize the operating costs of the infrastructure monitoring software, you must first determine the energy consumption accurately.

Effective energy management is based on the values of the amount of energy consumed by servers and network components. Power distribution units (PDUs) with metering functions provide detailed information on power consumption within IT racks. If only a few server racks are used, facility management can also determine these values, e.g. with a conventional electricity meter.

Does network infrastructure monitoring tools interfere with the operation of the IT infrastructure?

Often, decision-makers are unsure whether the IMS application can influence ongoing IT operations. However, vendors have already optimized their solutions for smooth operation not to slow down the IT infrastructures to be monitored. For example, some network infrastructure monitoring tools run on a Windows server configured for this purpose and therefore has sufficient resources of their own.

Access protection included

Regulations authorities oblige companies to adhere to certain rules around security in the IT envoroment, including which people have logging access to IT systems and at what time. To this end, the monitoring solution must record when the server rack door is opened. This is very important if the racks are alone in a technical room with poor security or a printer room.

Electromagnetic handles in conjunction with a reading device provide additional security, allowing the access of several people to be recorded in detail and automatically.

Much more than monitoring

However, infrastructure monitoring software is not a comprehensive tool for all aspects of IT infrastructure operation. In practice, IMS works alongside highly specialized monitoring tools that, for example, monitor networks, databases or application servers.

At the other end of the spectrum, in a heterogeneous and complex IT environment, a comprehensive IT infrastructure monitoring tool is still required in the IT control centre to provide a clear overview for users.

Testing small solutions

Many network infrastructure monitoring tools solutions are designed to monitor entire data centres and therefore offer a wide range of functions. If you only use a few server racks, the software provided by the rack manufacturer is often sufficient. With some solutions, companies provide a modular IMS application that can be implemented practically and quickly in small environments and monitors complex infrastructures if necessary.

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