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Systems management is nothing new, but data center administrators now have an abundance of tools available to help accomplish this important work. In this video, TechTarget's Stephen Bigelow shares his thinking on the practical uses of IT management tools, breaking down the attributes into five key pieces: discovery, provisioning, reporting, maintenance and troubleshooting.
A good systems management tool assists first with discovery, Bigelow says. It recognizes the various elements at work in a data center with a thoroughness and efficiency that would be hard to match in any manual process.
By helping admins set up servers, deploy VMs and manage applications, among other tasks, IT management tools also make provisioning a much less burdensome process. As for reporting, a good tool can organize relevant information about an environment. This includes details such as how much storage is available and how many network ports are in use.
Maintenance is another important attribute in systems management. Products help keep elements running at peak performance, adjust systems and handle update patches, Bigelow says. And with troubleshooting, the right tools will help users identify problems in an environment, thereby increasing the likelihood that those problems get fixed quickly.
Bigelow discusses the proliferation of IT management tools in recent years, some of which accomplish highly specific tasks. He identifies configuration management, application performance management and log analytics as some of the most powerful of those capabilities. An analytics capability, for example, gives an IT team a simultaneous view at different logs. This allows for early intervention against a potential problem, he says, and it also can assist with capacity planning.
All of these systems management capabilities are great, but Bigelow adds some words of caution. As IT management tools improve, they also become bigger and more complicated. This might lead a business to implement a large, expensive suite of management products. Or an organization instead could choose to mix and match various tools. This second path, he notes, can create integration problems since the tools will need to have interfaces that allow them to communicate with each other.