Essential Guide

Evaluate Weigh the pros and cons of technologies, products and projects you are considering.

Tools for IT shops seeking full-stack control and unified operations

IT shops that want to improve monitoring, management and process control should overhaul their -- probably long -- list of tools.


IT maturity varies from organization to organization and from team to team. The best tools for IT won't be the same when you progress from firefighting and chasing business needs to a higher level of management or process maturity that relies on predictive maintenance and task automation.

Reactive IT organizations use tools to respond to issues that end users bring to their attention. If your IT team is at this lowest level of process maturity, you know it requires a significant investment of time and effort to track down and solve problems in the network, application, servers or elsewhere. Monitoring information is not continuously available, either from application or infrastructure performance monitoring (APM or IPM) tools.

This model leaves plenty of room for improvement. If you're starting with basic management and troubleshooting tools for IT tasks, implement a better service desk and response system to help IT resolve user-reported issues faster. Monitoring tools, as mentioned above, potentially alert IT to problems before they affect users. For example, server logs fed into a log monitoring tool will catch high CPU utilization, letting the IT team respond with load balancing or another solution before tickets roll in about an application that's timing out.

Tools for IT management are needed to improve the daily task list. These can automate repetitive tasks, which saves time and, more importantly, standardizes work to avoid unexpected differences in IT configurations. IT automation tools range from basic command-line interfaces for scripts to sophisticated implementations that track and maintain a desired state.

At the highest level of IT maturity, the IT organization works in concert with its users. User requests are automatically implemented via an operations orchestrator. Various monitoring tools integrate together to provide short- and long-term forecasts as well as immediate alerts. IT management moves from responsive to predictive. It's a goal that few IT shops will completely accomplish; nevertheless, with a suite of tools for IT monitoring, management and automation, shops can confidently set service-level agreements with users and performance metrics for staff.

1Gauge IT maturity-

How are we doing in the IT department?

With an honest assessment of IT goals, performance and integration with business objectives, organizations can craft roadmaps for management and monitoring that make sense. Learn how to create and track key performance indicators and dig into models for IT operation.


Don't be just another cost center

Good IT operations practices don't make the company any money directly. However, strong, effective operations management has real business value. To justify a new tool, training or initiative, demonstrate how it will help the business as a whole. Continue Reading


IT shops become in-house consultancies

Infrastructure as code and DevOps give developers unprecedented influence over IT operational decisions and planning. It takes a highly educated and communicative IT operations staff to facilitate and guide these decisions. Continue Reading


Get familiar with BPM

Business process management is an approach that mature IT shops model for service delivery. BPM realigns IT from technologies to business needs, focusing on desired outcomes. To be successful as an IT delivery strategy, the business side must also heed IT's input. Continue Reading


Making a case for systemic systems management

Systems management tools eliminate time spent reacting to IT events and managing recurring, standardized processes. Even with just a little more time for proactive IT management, the results are remarkable. Continue Reading


Metrics that matter

Before you can decide if the IT organization is doing a good job serving developers and the business, you need to decide which factors matter most, and how you'll measure them. Continue Reading


Dig deeper into performance tracking

There are metrics, parametrics, performance indicators and KPIs. Here's an overview of the theory and application of metrics for tracking performance, and advice for further reading. Continue Reading


Where can the IT org improve?

Nobody's perfect. An IT performance assessment and mentality for improvement will serve organizations well on their paths to higher IT maturity. Continue Reading

2Management tools for IT-

Manage IT better, faster and smarter

An IT administrator or engineer is only as good as the tools in her arsenal. Ensure you're using the best technologies to enable DevOps, automation, scalable resources and incident response.


Microservices demand a different approach

Microservices composed across small containers on an IT infrastructure are too complex to manually manage. Enterprises adopting advanced app architectures find cluster abstraction tooling necessary to run them. Continue Reading


A tool to automate the automation

Scripting is table stakes to run modern IT operations. With such reliance on automation, organizations may find script management technology a welcome safety net against user error that propagates swiftly across the IT estate. Continue Reading


Programming tools for IT infrastructure

What do you get when you mix infrastructure as a service with configuration management -- and then layer on platform as a service? Programmable infrastructure, and probably a new subset of tool vendors that weren't on IT's radar. Continue Reading


Tools to support DevOps

IT organizations will find no shortage of tools for DevOps, nor will they be able to acquire a single tool to transform them into a DevOps shop. Clarify what tools IT will need to enable continuous integration and delivery as well as other tenants of DevOps such as automation and flexibility. Continue Reading

Photo Story

Open source tools for systems management

Modern systems management extends from the continuous delivery pipeline to orchestration to alerts and log monitoring. And you can get open source tools in every category. Continue Reading


IT asset management tools make a difference

The right IT asset management system is a combination of granularity and completeness in coverage. And the benefits of astute asset tracking are manifold. Continue Reading


DCSM tools combine ITSM with DCIM for oversight

Data center service management (DCSM) bridges a gap between data center infrastructure monitoring -- usually brought in to resolve specific problems -- and overall IT service management. DCSM reveals interconnections between problems and helps plan capacity. Continue Reading


Get CMDB right for IT -- and everyone else

A content management database (CMDB) tool only helps IT if the information feeding its database is accurate to the current IT estate. And a CMDB only helps the business if it is used to accomplish IT goals aligned with business objectives. Continue Reading

Buyer's Guide

The critical factors in a config management choice

Configuration management tools vary widely, from the style of implementation to the language for configurations to product roadmap development. Continue Reading


When it all goes wrong

IT incident response makes or breaks IT performance perception with the business. Everyone remembers the outage, not the other 99% of the time when IT worked smoothly. Different tool categories provide varying levels of assistance in managing an incident. Continue Reading


Throw those tools out

Now that you're thoroughly informed about the options available for IT management tools, consider skipping them in favor of IT management as a service. Continue Reading

3Monitoring tools for IT-

Monitoring keeps IT's eyes on the prize

You can't discover or prevent issues without good monitoring. Too often, IT monitoring is a patchwork of tools, each brought in to watch over one piece of the IT estate or one layer in the application stack.


Choose between agent-based and agentless monitoring tools

Agent-based monitoring tools offer pros and cons for IT shops, as do agentless offerings. As with many tools for IT, the best choice is likely a mix of both options, deployed with an understanding of the infrastructure and monitoring demands. Continue Reading


The right DCIM tool for IT shops

DCIM vendors offer a bevy of features and integrations, and the companies often change. Emerson Network Power's Trellis DCIM product, for example, was spun out as part of Vertiv, an independent business unit. Investigate vendor options thoroughly before adopting tools. Continue Reading


What is a normal day on the network?

Network monitoring is one of the top tasks of IT operations professionals. Start with a performance baseline to accurately profile deviations and troubleshoot issues. Continue Reading


Wireless networks don't escape IT's watchful eye

IT teams have a lot of tools to monitor networks, but that's only half the battle. Managing wireless network performance requires a combination of using the right tracking tools, following the right metrics, and engaging in the right IT exercises to predict behavior. Continue Reading


Alerts -- never-ending alerts

Anyone who has been on call overnight knows that the IT team gets far too many automated alerts from systems with resource constraints and performance metrics programmed in. Alerts are even more useful when pared down and organized to suit IT's needs. Continue Reading


Monitoring makes things better

DevOps isn't just about getting code out faster -- it is equally important to get feedback on that code. Monitoring tells DevOps teams where to make fixes and improvements, if you can sort through large volumes of monitoring data. Continue Reading


From APM to IPM and back again

It's not enough to monitor just application or infrastructure performance when you're running a DevOps IT shop. Tool vendors are working to string together monitoring for each layer of the application stack, enabling a consistent user interface throughout. Continue Reading


Microservices turn small functions into big monitoring problems

Monitoring tools were not designed for microservices and containers; vendors are developing new approaches to accommodate these distributed applications. They're also releasing new pricing structures for microservices monitoring. Continue Reading

4Find what you need-

Categorizing IT tools

Knowing the right terms to assess IT and management models will enable a group to communicate tool requirements effectively.

5Tie them all together-

Tools are one thing; a toolchain is another

Tools for IT serve a given purpose and cover a given area. When you integrate these individual tools into an interactive monitoring and management command center, the value is more than the sum of its parts.


Skills focus: APIs and configuration

Application programming interfaces (APIs) were once foreign territory to data center and IT administrators. Now, teams must understand how to connect software tools to take advantage of automation and orchestration, ultimately saving time on infrastructure management. Continue Reading


How tool integration gets done

If tool integration is one of your goals this year, set about establishing the project scope, investigating how these tools gather data points and the best way to tie them together. Continue Reading


The arduous task of end-to-end automation

The benefits of end-to-end DevOps pipeline automation may pale in comparison to the effort involved. Rest APIs are starting to change that. Continue Reading


Tool unity creates speedier IT ops

Some IT shops are investing in tool data aggregators to simplify incident response and task workflows. They're exposing correlations between IT resources and applications that were previously hidden. Continue Reading


Is the single pane of glass all smoke and mirrors?

Single-pane-of-glass management promises to pull every monitoring and management tool into one dashboard that serves the different people on the IT or DevOps team, such as security vs. server admin. Continue Reading

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