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Is a Monitoring Suite a Sweet Deal?

By: Jasmin young
December 8, 2022

So you are looking for an IT infrastructure monitoring solution? Well, you’ve come to the right place and I don’t mean just because we at Netreo sell an industry leading solution. This blog post takes you through a number of considerations that you should consider when looking at ITIM tools.

Should I look for a suite or go with point solutions?

There are strong arguments for both suites and point solutions (but be sure to read the caveats).

Some of the arguments for suites (as opposed to point solutions) include:

  • Buying from a vendor offering a suite means all your tools are closely tied together, share information, and are able to present a view of everything that is happening across your entire environment
  • Buying from a single vendor will lead to better cost management and ease vendor management processes
  • Suite vendors have lots of experience and customers, so they are better able to provide the technology you need

Some of the arguments for point solutions (as opposed to suites) include:

  • Buying a point solution allows you to get narrowly tailored tools that are focused on your exact needs
  • Buying from multiple vendors minimizes your exposure and/or risk from a single vendor having security, financial or other issues
  • The plethora of point solutions means you have lots of options

All of those are good reasons to buy an IT infrastructure monitoring suite or point solution (and I should know since I just wrote them), but are they accurate? To a certain extent, accuracy and applicability depends on each organization’s individual needs and experiences. But in general, I would say they are both accurate and inaccurate at the same time.

What do I mean by this? Well, look at the arguments for suites. Buying from a single vendor very likely will result in easier vendor management, since there is only a single vendor to manage. On the other hand, if you are a large organization with a team of people who manage vendors, how much of an issue is it if you have five vendors versus one? And, if that single vendor cannot provide all the functionality you need, have you really come out ahead?

A cycle inevitably appears

I see a recurring pattern with the suite versus point solution discussion. Organizations tend to start with one or the other (obviously). If they start with point solutions, after a while the organization will get tired of dealing with lots of vendors. Users struggle with the fact that the tools interact poorly and get frustrated that all the UI’s, workflows, etc. are different. When this happens, IT teams start looking at suites to resolve those issues. The organization will generally find a suite that meets most of their needs and migrate over to address the concerns.

After a year or two, the organization discovers that things are not working as well as they would have liked. Maybe the suite only met 75% of their core requirements, and those other 25% are proving challenging. Maybe the suite is not as well integrated as promised. Lots of vendors acquire different tools from different sources, and those tools are never fully integrated together.

Whatever it is, most IT organizations in my experience then start looking at point solutions to fill the gaps. They start by acquiring one to fill a hole, and before you know it, the organization has lots of point solutions – probably in addition to the suite! After this goes on for a while, organizations end up looking at the situation, asking “why do we have 200 tools?” At this point, the process  starts all over again. It may take 10 years to get there. But whether it happens every year or 10 years, the cycle tends to be the same.

If an organization starts with an IT infrastructure monitoring suite, the process starts at a later point, but then continues around the same cycle described above.

Sage advice for your decision making

The advice I generally give people when asked about a suite is, if you can find a suite that really meets all of your needs (and I mean 100% of the must-haves and almost all the nice-to-haves), then you should definitely look at acquiring it. Everything else notwithstanding, having a single tool and single vendor to manage is easier than managing 50 tools and vendors. But only if the tool works and gives you what you need.

The problem is, if the suite doesn’t deliver what you need across the board, you’ll continue to feed the cycle. And, before too long, you’ll find yourself looking for point solutions to fill the holes the suite left.

This all points to what I feel is an undeniable fact: you should not be afraid of point solutions.

The ability to tie together all the different types of data acquired to get a bigger picture view of your environment and problems sounds great, until you realize that most suites don’t do a great job of this. And even if the suite does, the information is likely only marginally useful to everyone. Sure, consolidated data may be helpful for the application engineer to know that the network is causing the problem. But, do they really need to know the nitty gritty details of what is wrong with the network? Probably not.

Key takeaways

IT infrastructure monitoring suites are great if they really meet 100% of your requirements. If they don’t, the approach of “we’ll just figure out how to make the remaining stuff work” is almost always destined for failure.

The concept that a suite will increase productivity is unproven. Unfortunately, not all vendor suites are created equally. Some are well integrated across numerous different monitoring silos, and some are just a bunch of products sold together.

The concept that having lots of tools is “bad” is also unproven. While it makes sense to minimize the number of tools you are using, this should be done in such a way that those who need information are still able to access the information they need.

One of the things I like most about Netreo is their perspective on suite versus point solutions. Yes, Netreo creates and sells a suite, but our pitch has never been to displace point solutions. On the contrary, one of the main benefits Netreo offers is providing a comprehensive view of your entire infrastructure, including the data captured by point solutions. Point solutions aren’t going away any time soon, so Netreo takes the approach of consolidating all the data captured by all your tools and giving every user customizable dashboards for easy access to the data they need. So, if you are looking for an infrastructure monitoring solution, why not schedule a Netreo demo today?

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