Navigating the Complexities of IT Infrastructure Monitoring: Best Practices and Challenges

Newsroom -

November 02, 2023

Modern digital transformation places IT infrastructures in a central role, with the objective of achieving significant advantages to businesses. However, these infrastructures, due to their sheer scale and complexity, present challenges in terms of management. As a result, the task of monitoring and overseeing IT infrastructures has evolved into a complex process that demands both specialized personnel and advanced tools.

Lack of a proper IT infrastructure management strategy can pave the way for multiple factors that could contribute to performance degradation, including:

  • Over-utilization of CPU, inconsistent hardware health, and lowered availability.
  • Mismanaged bandwidth consumption between individual devices.
  • Potential misconfigurations during updates or upgrades to IT infrastructure.
  • Non-compliance to critical security measures and other industry standards.
  • Ineffective or outdated firewall rules and policies.

Developing a comprehensive strategy for monitoring IT infrastructure is crucial for optimizing the performance of your organization’s IT systems. To gain a deeper understanding of IT infrastructure management, let’s explore the elements of IT infrastructure monitoring and the difficulties that come with it.

Best practices for efficient infrastructure monitoring

To achieve optimal efficiency in your IT infrastructure monitoring strategy, you should consider the following best practices:

  1. Implement a secure and well-defined user access system that grants monitoring and problem resolution privileges to authorized IT administrators, while upholding stringent security standards.
  2. Regularly analyze critical metrics and utilize reports to anticipate potential issues proactively. This data-driven approach empowers technicians to take informed measures, ultimately preventing problems and enhancing the overall performance of the IT infrastructure.
  3. Emphasize continuous monitoring of critical devices and metrics to swiftly address any infrastructure faults, mitigating potential business losses. This proactive monitoring is a cornerstone of an effective IT infrastructure management strategy.
  4. Automate repetitive maintenance tasks to save time and resources. By optimizing manpower for resolving critical issues, organizations can allocate resources more efficiently, prioritizing complex problems that require human intervention.

Key elements of IT infrastructure monitoring

Here are some key components of IT infrastructure monitoring to achieve optimal performance:

  1. Infrastructure Prioritization: Identifying and prioritizing critical devices and metrics is essential in the IT infrastructure monitoring and troubleshooting process. In today’s complex IT landscape with numerous components, prioritization is crucial for effective IT operations monitoring. This empowers IT technicians to quickly address and resolve network issues.
  2. Unified Licensing Model: Adopting a unified licensing model can reduce overhead costs and save time by eliminating the need to manage multiple licenses. This simplifies license management and lightens the workload associated with handling licenses.
  3. Security and Privacy: With the growing complexity of networks, security becomes a vital aspect of IT infrastructure monitoring. It’s imperative to grant monitoring and management privileges exclusively to essential stakeholders, categorizing users based on their roles (e.g., admin, operator). Measures should be in place to prevent unauthorized access to data during the IT infrastructure monitoring process.

Types of IT infrastructure monitoring

  • Agentless monitoring: This method allows IT administrators to query network devices from the monitoring tool directly, providing valuable insights into IT performance. By eliminating the need for additional overhead or agents, this approach saves time, effort, and resources that can be better utilized for proactive optimization of critical aspects of the IT infrastructure.
  • Agent-based monitoring: With an agent-based system, IT administrators can periodically gather data on vital network device metrics. These lightweight software agents, installed on devices, continuously monitor and instantly update device status in real-time to the server. This approach reduces server load and enhances performance.

IT infrastructure monitoring can be divided into five specific components: physical and virtual infrastructure monitoring, bandwidth monitoring, change monitoring, log monitoring, and IP address monitoring.

Physical and virtual infrastructure monitoring

Physical and virtual infrastructure monitoring is all about ensuring the robust health, availability, and peak performance of critical devices within a network. It encompasses a comprehensive approach to network monitoring, server monitoring, and the assessment of the health and performance of virtual devices, such as VMware, Hyper-V, and Nutanix.

However, it goes beyond the mere observation of devices and extends into the continuous monitoring of the processes and services that these devices support. This diligent monitoring of health and availability plays a pivotal role in IT infrastructure management by significantly reducing the risk of downtime and contributing to the optimization of the entire infrastructure. The result is a highly efficient IT infrastructure management strategy.

Bandwidth monitoring

Effective bandwidth consumption monitoring is crucial for IT administrators to optimize the availability and performance of the IT infrastructure. To achieve this, bandwidth management should be a two-pronged approach, addressing both the infrastructure level and the global network level.

At the infrastructure level, individual devices are meticulously observed based on their capacity and criticality. Meanwhile, at the global network level, comprehensive tracking and definition of global traffic patterns take place. This proactive bandwidth monitoring strategy encompasses real-time monitoring of network traffic patterns, ensuring that your IT infrastructure remains responsive and avoids potential disruptions caused by mismanaged bandwidth usage.

Change monitoring

IT infrastructures undergo continuous cycles of configuration changes, upgrades, and updates. This constant evolution introduces an element of risk, as a misconfiguration or faulty change could potentially lead to a disaster. To mitigate such risks, having a well-defined change implementation and management process is essential, ensuring the IT infrastructure environment remains safeguarded against misconfiguration-induced issues.

Change management within the infrastructure context encompasses not only configuration changes but also security-level alterations, such as firewall rules and policies. Regardless of the change’s size, scale, type, or potential implications, a mechanism should be in place to quantify, review (approval-based), and create backups of existing changes to maintain operational integrity.

Log monitoring

Log monitoring is vital for the proactive identification and prompt resolution of network faults within your organization’s IT infrastructure, preventing potential disruptions. This monitoring process involves the ongoing analysis of various log types, such as syslogs, event logs, and firewall logs. It empowers IT administrators to not only optimize performance but also swiftly detect and address potential security threats.

IP address monitoring

Consistent monitoring and scanning of IP addresses within your IT infrastructure play a critical role in safeguarding your network environment against unauthorized device access. This practice is also instrumental in preventing potentially disruptive network issues, such as IP address conflicts.

What are the challenges in IT infrastructure monitoring?

A well-defined strategy can enable your organization to maximize productivity from its IT infrastructure investments, ensuring smooth business operations. However, the monitoring of IT infrastructure comes with its own set of challenges, including:

  1. Dealing with Multi-Vendor Complexity: Managing a multi-vendor environment can be challenging, as different devices may have unique critical parameters. Regardless of these differences, it’s essential to monitor essential metrics such as bandwidth and availability for all components.
  2. Devising Proactive Monitoring Strategies: A real-time IT infrastructure monitoring strategy can be more efficient with a proactive approach. This involves analyzing critical parameters thoroughly and connecting the dots between data from various components to gain a holistic view.
  3. Managing Licensing for Multiple IT Monitoring Tools: Utilizing a unified tool with support for various components can streamline your infrastructure monitoring. Using multiple tools can create additional challenges, as the unavailability of one tool can complicate the selection and management of alternatives. To optimize infrastructure monitoring, adopting a unified tool is recommended, particularly for managing licenses and ensuring the stability of critical infrastructure components.

OpManager Plus: Your reliable and simplified IT infrastructure observability software

ManageEngine OpManager Plus is a powerful, unified IT infrastructure observability tool that encompasses various IT infrastructure management and monitoring processes. This integrated approach helps you achieve in-depth observability into the health, availability, and performance patterns of your organization’s IT infrastructure components, enabling proactive detection and resolution of network faults.

A single tool to take control of the entire IT infrastructure monitoring process

OpManager Plus is equipped with an integrated dashboard and is adept at physical and virtual infrastructure monitoring, bandwidth monitoring, change monitoring, as well as log and IP monitoring. Some highlights of OpManager Plus include:

Efficient physical and virtual infrastructure monitoring

With support for over 1,000 devices—including routers, servers, switches, and VMware and Nutanix devices—OpManager Plus is a reliable real-time network infrastructure observability solution. It offers more than 100 parameters for monitoring network and server performance, router and switch monitoring, and load balancing, making it an effective tool for proactively identifying issues with performance, health, and availability. OpManager Plus’s multi-level threshold-based alerting system ensures that performance bottlenecks are detected early on, while its comprehensive reports enables easy identification of bottlenecks and performance optimization of infrastructure performance.

Proactive bandwidth monitoring

OpManager Plus provides a comprehensive set of data center infrastructure management (DCIM) and IT infrastructure monitoring services for your enterprise. With this tool, you can devise an efficient infrastructure bandwidth monitoring strategy, which enables you to identify bandwidth hogs through extensive traffic pattern analysis and monitoring. Beyond traditional IT infrastructure, OpManager Plus also allows for monitoring of other essential metrics, such as WLC monitoring, VoIP performance, WAN RTT monitoring and management, and more.

Real-time change monitoring

OpManager Plus comes with a robust change monitoring feature that allows you to track changes with ease. Prior to implementing any critical configuration changes, you can use the Diff View to compare different versions of the changes, automatically back up configurations, set up a change approval hierarchy, and restrict access to authorized personnel using role-based access control. Furthermore, OpManager Plus also provides change visualization capabilities to proactively visualize the effects of changes made to your firewall rules, thereby improving the security of your IT infrastructure. To forecast security threats, OpManager Plus includes the Advanced Security Analysis Module (ASAM), which leverages behavior anomaly detection techniques to analyze bandwidth usage patterns.

In-depth log and IP address monitoring

With OpManager Plus, you have access to a detailed IT infrastructure monitoring solution that enables you to proactively analyze syslogs, Windows event logs, traps, firewall logs, and other logs. Its comprehensive reporting capabilities make it easy to understand events that could negatively impact your infrastructure performance, ultimately improving your IT infrastructure performance monitoring. Through log analysis, you can identify traffic patterns and improve your infrastructure security. Furthermore, OpManager Plus allows you to set up log-based alerts for relevant events, which helps you avoid potential performance issues or security threats. With advanced rogue device detection mechanisms, OpManager Plus’ IP address and switch port monitoring capabilities ensure your network remains protected from intruders, allowing you to track IP assignments and usage of critical switch ports.

Proactive IT infrastructure observability paves the way for proactive IT fault management

Multi-channel notifications

With OpManager Plus, you can take advantage of efficient IT infrastructure observability capabilities and a multi-platform notification system. This system enables you to receive critical alerts through various notification channels, including email, SMS, and Slack. Furthermore, OpManager Plus features one-click integrations with external tools like ServiceDesk Plus, ServiceNow, Slack, and AlarmsOne. These integrations allow you to transform critical alerts from your IT infrastructure into actionable items, which can help you swiftly resolve IT faults.

Automation of L1 and L2 fault management

OpManager Plus’ IT infrastructure management capabilities includes workflow, a crucial feature that automates L1 and L2 fault management operations. The result is greatly enhanced monitoring efficiency, by eliminating the need for manual work in fundamental troubleshooting tasks. This means that your organization can benefit from faster fault management and cost savings in terms of both finances and human resources.

REST API integration

OpManager Plus is an immensely scalable IT infrastructure observability solution that goes beyond just integrating with ITSM, alarm management, and communication tools—it also integrates with any external tool that supports REST API. This degree of integration allows you to optimize your infrastructure monitoring efforts by customizing alerts to whichever format you prefer, ensuring that your IT monitoring process yields the most significant output for the time, money, and effort invested. With these capabilities, OpManager Plus not only enables you to develop a highly efficient, scalable, user-friendly IT infrastructure monitoring strategy but also assists you in effectively managing your IT infrastructure components, allowing your organization to devise an effective ITOM process.

Interested in effortless IT infrastructure monitoring? Download our 30-day free trial of OpManager Plus and discover its out-of-the-box capabilities. You can also schedule a demo for a technical walkthrough and request for a price quote.