With the emergence of multiple new communication services and devices, many corporate communication systems are exhibiting signs of choking on internal communications. This has posed a challenge to IT managers in geographically dispersed organisations, as various common Web-based applications are running critical aspects of the business on top of the bedrock of corporate email and collaboration apps.
The constant availability and performance of these applications has a direct impact on the corporate bottom line. As a result, IT departments want to be proactive and ensure the performance and availability of these applications instead of receiving angry end user calls at their help desk every day.
Not only is the volume and diversity of traffic flows expanding, so is the range of stakeholders (who need to be kept informed). A technical Admin will need details on specific areas, such as how much space is being used by email boxes. The line of business (LoB) managers will want to understand how their employees are using the platforms, and what it’s costing them. The networking team will need to estimate future traffic volumes based on a real-time analysis, etc.
Admins and managers of large Exchange and SharePoint communities with 10,000 users and upwards typically rely on Microsoft’s Systems Center Operations Manager (SCOM) to provide them with the performance overviews they need. However, we have seen that they find using SCOM to be sometimes complex, difficult to manage and time-consuming.
SCOM offers a powerful set of System Center tools to manage various aspects of the data center for collecting and aggregating data on application configuration and performance. But, it leaves much to be desired in terms of granularity and usefulness on information related to Exchange and SharePoint performance.
We have identified, in conjunction with Quorcirca, five keys areas that need to be addressed to meet this challenge:
- Unified Management of the Messaging and Collaboration Apps: This has two separate aspects: technical and organisational. Centralizing the monitoring of performance metrics, across a company’s fixed and mobile collaboration environments, on a single dashboard makes tracking SLA compliance consistent and a lot faster. The monitoring platform also needs to be able to provide performance data to different teams (Exchange, SharePoint and network teams typically). This is crucial, as these teams need to merge their efforts to be in line with Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to merge its messaging and collaboration products.
- Real-Time View of End-User Apps Performance: The end-user is the final judge of application performance. As a result, the enterprise needs to gain visibility on the end-user experience. Managers, application owners, and IT professionals all need to monitor the availability and performance of business-critical applications as well as view the reported data on a single web-based interface.
- Ease-of-use and Automation: It is widely reported that 70% or more of an organisation’s IT budget is spent on “keeping the lights on”. Tools that can automate everyday tasks and reduce errors can have a massive impact on this.
- Transparent Implementation & Upgrading: In messaging and collaboration environments, server side upgrades should be fast and avoid adding any new code. Upgrades should be invisible to the user population by avoiding the need to install any new agent software or requiring the user to change any configurations manually.
- Proactive Analytics and Reporting: With fast-paced technology developments and changing user behaviour, the ability to service a growing mobile workforce, conduct efficient resource planning and respond quickly to changing market conditions are premium qualities for any IT department.
To be a leader in the market, competitive technology organisations must come up with ideas for revenue generation and demonstrate how process improvements can enable cost reduction. In order to do that, Admins and managers need to get into the driving seat with a clear view of the road ahead and have time to think about where they and the company should be heading.
What may be needed is a layered approach – something that overlays SCOM to give the information those individuals in different corporate positions need – rapidly and effectively - so that decisions can be made on what the individual sees.