01.10.16

How To Economically Justify Enterprise Monitoring Tools

Real time monitoring of events, availability, and performance for IT infrastructure is as fundamental as backups, air conditioning and physical security. Many organizations make sizable investments in the unified monitoring and log analysis tools without requiring formal investment analysis. In other cases, ROI calculations are required. The good news is that ROI for monitoring is pretty easy to quantify.

The features and functions of enterprise monitoring tools are frequently grouped as monitoring, user productivity, IT productivity, and capital investment optimization.

Reductions in Service Outages

Comprehensive monitoring of applications and infrastructure will result in fewer and shorter outages over any period of time. It is generally accepted that the number of outages will be reduced by 50%, and the length of the reaming will also be reduced by 50%. Most people don’t have ready access to the information about all of their outages, but can usually justify the monitoring tools investment by simply considering a few of the more recent and significant outages. The benefit of considering larger outages is that the cost is much more easily identified, understood, and quantified than in a more comprehensive and complicated analysis.

Outages can have a catastrophic negative effect on brand quality and identification. While outages affect service levels of all types, they particularly disturb software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers and productivity of both internal and external uses of affected applications. The cost of an outage is affected not only by the size of the outage (i.e. the number of users impacted), but also the length of the outage for which there is a substitution effect.

End User Productivity

The response time of applications and related IT services impacts the personal productivity of every user on every application supported by the enterprise. While a monitoring tool won’t itself cause applications to run faster, the first step to optimal management of any resource is comprehensive measurement of the objective function. Often, system response times can be improved by resource tuning and adjustments made to operating procedures simply based on the attention paid to the exceptions revealed by comprehensive performance measurement. Even if additional capital expenditures for infrastructure are needed to improve user productivity, the measurements provided by the monitoring system can be used to ensure that only the resources really needed are purchased and that the results expected are actually achieved once deployed.

IT Productivity

It’s a well-known principle of industrial engineering that planned or predictive maintenance actions cost between 3–9 times the cost of performing the same actions proactively. Well-calibrated monitoring systems support predictive maintenance (i.e. work that is done only if and when it is needed). While this is the lowest cost maintenance mode, this aspect of monitoring is only used for economic justification in very large IT organizations.

Compliance

IT organizations must comply with various regulatory and industry standards that require regular reporting and audit support from IT organizations. The cost of deploying a monitoring system to demonstrate compliance is an implied cost related to business decisions rather than a cost reduction based economic justification. Compliance reporting may be required for any or all of the following:

  • Credit Card Processing—PCI DSS
  • Public Accounting—Sarbanes Oxley
  • Clinical Trials Data Protection—11CFR22
  • Personal Health Information—HIPAA
  • Federal Information Systems and Organizations—NIST 800-53
  • Protection of Confidential Personal Information–Many

Key Performance Indicators for IT Service Management Processes

Key performance indicators measured and reported on by monitoring systems provide key inputs and effectiveness measurements for:

  • Service Level management
  • Availability management
  • Capacity and Performance Management
  • Configuration Management
  • Problem Management
  • Change Management
  • Incident Management

Conclusion

There are many effective approaches to economically justifying enterprise monitoring software acquisition, deployment, and operation. If you are asked to quantify the required investment and ongoing operations costs, it usually can be done most easily by associating the costs of recent occurrences in the organization memory related to compliance issues, significant outages, and ongoing performance improvements. A special benefit that CFO’s are likely to respond to is that the measurements created by monitoring are needed to support the cost benefit analysis of all IT purchases and the subsequent verification that predicted benefits have been obtained. Pick the issues most relevant to you and memorable to the approval cycle and you’ll be finished in a day or two.

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