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OpenNMS: A Study in Deployment

Why Do We Need a Systems Management Tool?

  • June 2, 2005
  • By Jonathan Sartin

Current trends in the IT world continue to accelerate the rate of change in every area. Applications, server platforms and networks are no longer the slow moving entities they once were. They are subject to change on an almost daily basis. In this environment, it becomes more and more important for the IT Operations team to quickly detect, and respond to changes, or anomalous events.

My employer is a relatively new business. Applications would be customized packages, and a large section of its core IT systems would be outsourced. Slowly, those package based solutions morphed into custom applications and, for a variety of reasons, these outsourced systems were brought back in-house a couple of years ago. This presented those of us in the IT department with some interesting challenges. One of those challenges was how to go about managing our newly re-acquired IT infrastructure and applications.

When we first decided to move our core systems from an outsourced to an in-house IT Operations Department, our requirements were limited. Checking the availability of some services and the load on the network and key servers was about as much as we thought we needed.

It became obvious over time that this was rather optimistic. Each new service added seemed to result in a new management tool being installed on a System Administrator's workstation. At one point we had three separate network monitoring systems, three separate performance management tools and a plethora different scripts, web pages and command line tools. The DBA team had one tool, the Network Admins another, the Unix and Windows teams yet another. We sent out critical alerts by email, pager, and SMS, often to completely inappropriate people.

The company was growing, and it looked like it was beginning to need a grown-up systems management tool, but which one?

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