Recently Zenoss’ marketing strategist Deepak Kanwar and senior solution engineer Jaime Colom hosted the webinar End Siloed Monitoring: Accelerate IT Operations with Unified Monitoring. I recommend it as a good discussion of the IT challenges that led to the development of Zenoss Service Dynamics (ZSD), it is followed by Jaime Colom’s demo of how the solution works.
While this isn’t the first Zenoss webinar that has discussed topics like the problem with too many monitoring tools and IT silos, among others, Deepak did an excellent job distilling these issues into a straightforward review that even your most technologically challenged colleagues can appreciate.
And Jaime’s demo of ZSD included clear, real-world use cases in its description of its features. So if you’re seeking to convince the decision-makers in your organization to switch to a unified monitoring tool like ZSD, this is the webinar to watch.
You may be asking yourself if you need to watch this, especially given that you’ve regularly attended past Zenoss webinars. I can’t answer that for you, but if you’re looking to build a good business case for ZSD, Deepak offers several good bullet points you can use to support your claim. I’ve highlighted a few to get you started.
The Silo Is Killing Me!
In case you’re new to this blog, Zenoss really hates the silo mentality. But realize Zenoss wouldn’t have been developed if silos weren’t already making life painful for IT organizations – back in 2005! And clearly the pain only intensifies as data centers have moved to hosted applications, virtualization, various public and private cloud iterations, and a bunch of other things that escape me at the moment.
Early in the webinar, Deepak provided an unsentimental look back at the circa-2005 silo mentality:
One of the common things we had across silos was we didn't talk to each other. This is my silo. I own it. I maintain it. I make every decision for it. I’m responsible for that silo [and] nothing else. If anything else breaks, it’s not my purview.
The emerging technology, unfortunately, hasn’t led to a new data center paradigm where people share information and everybody lives happily ever after. In too many cases, we’re seeing new silos with the same old silo mentality.
As we move forward, it’s getting worse with new silos emerging [for] clouds, virtualization, and software-defined everything. This means information is coming from various areas where nobody is spending the time communicating or coordinating with one another. As a result, if something breaks in one silo, it could be days before I realize there is a problem for my service delivery—because from my perspective, all my SLAs are met.
This simply leads to an impasse. Earlier this year, I brought up the parable of the blind men and the elephant, where one blind man mistakes the trunk for a hose, another a leg for a tree trunk and so forth. But in this fable, a “wise man” (no relation to me) brings these sightless men together and helps them piece together that elephant.
In Deepak’s scenario, no one is bringing these representative silos together. Yeah, as networking folks we may think data is traveling just fine through the pipes without realizing that something within the storage part of the data center is preventing, say, a shopping cart from properly loading during a post-Thanksgiving sale. As we enjoy leftover turkey and chilling within our respective “grain elevators,” we might be completely oblivious to the fact that potential customers have ditched our portal for Amazon.
Keep Preaching That Holistic Solution
Everyone reading this post knows modern IT environments are complex and are only getting more so. Deepak himself admitted he was “preaching to the choir.” But Deepak expounded on this inherent complexity of IT processes by looking at the level of monitoring required to launch a simple application:
Just running something that simple means you need to monitor your servers, operating system, and applications—and of course, your storage and network also need monitoring.
But using my “Black Friday” scenario from the previous section, what happens when said app needs high availability? You’ll need additional infrastructure to failover to, and perhaps cloud-bursting capabilities to accommodate that unexpected surge. And if that cloud bursting is happening in a public cloud, that already complex environment becomes more unwieldy.
We’re just constantly moving around. Even if you think about the stack the way VCE puts out a Vblock with immense amounts of capacity, these relationships are no longer stagnant [or] stationary anymore. It’s practically impossible to keep track of these changing relationships.
You can try monitoring these relationships using elemental solutions that came with components of your infrastructure, third-party niche solutions, or homegrown solutions, among others, but even if these multiple tools covered every aspect of your infrastructure, there’s no guarantee that they can generate a holistic understanding of what’s really going on. You may not find yourself literally in Deepwater, but this lack of integration between the various tools makes you vulnerable and can be a detriment to your organization.
Stop Fogging Up That Single Pane
“A Single Pane of Glass” has been the Holy Grail for IT managers. Just providing a consolidated view of the environment without any context is certainly falling short of what is sought from the Single Pane.
As Jaime pointed out, “a web console that just puts all [your] tools into one place” does not take you to the Promised Land. Instead you need:
a tool that integrates everything within one tool and actually understands what's going on with the different elements.
Deepak added that this pane of glass must do more than consolidate information. It must give something actionable:
It should tell you, “These are the issues, the services being impacted, and these might be the reasons they are being impacted.” Just having an accumulation of data really doesn’t help you a whole lot.
In other words, you need context for this information to be useful. Yes, it’s good to know “Server 34” is down, but how will that impact your business? If Server 34 manages an archive of information archived for compliance reasons, you probably can manage without it for a little bit. However, if Server 34 manages the shopping cart information for all your customers on your e-commerce site, and it’s Black Friday, well, you better find a fix for it now.
Deepak touches on several other topics, including the ways in which a holistic monitoring solution like Zenoss ZSD can enhance the usefulness of your CMDB (Configuration Management Database), among other things. If you want to get the full picture of how ZSD can provide you with a unified, real-time “snapshot of your entire IT environment,” as Deepak said, watch the whole webinar embedded below—and get those skeptics to watch it, too!