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Hybrid IT Requires Monitoring As A Discipline

The disruption from highly available, easy-to-use and easy-to-scale cloud services is making IT organizations run in circles to change itself all the while trying to harness that change into business value. It’s like IT is becoming the "Mad World" described in the  Roland Orzabal song:

All around me are familiar faces

Worn out places, worn out faces

Bright and early for the daily races

Going nowhere, going nowhere...

And I find it kind of funny

I find it kind of sad

The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had

I find it hard to tell you,

I find it hard to take

When people run in circles it's a very, very

Mad world, mad world

But IT doesn’t have to be this way, as long you’re MAAD and not literally mad. Whether you are an IT professional, a DevOps practitioner or an application developer, you can never be MAAD enough in this age of instant applications. And what exactly is MAAD, you may be wondering. Why, monitoring as a discipline, of course!

MAAD is pretty simple: It’s a concept that calls for monitoring to become the defined job of one or more IT administrators in every organization. The most important benefit of such a dedicated role is the ability to turn data points from various monitoring tools and utilities into more actionable insights for the business by looking at all of them from a holistic vantage point, rather than each disparately. Of course, a dedicated monitoring role may not be feasible for organizations with certain budget and resource constraints, but the primary goal still applies: Put a much larger emphasis on monitoring as a discipline in daily IT operations.


So why leverage monitoring as a discipline in the age of instant apps? SolarWinds Developer Evangelist Dave Josephsen perhaps said it best: “Teams with the know-how to embrace metrics-driven development and scale their monitoring into their codebase will spend less time mired…and more time building and running world-class systems that scale.”

But because you’re in IT operations and not a developer, you may be thinking, “Not so fast!” Okay, no problem. As my friend and fellow SolarWinds Head Geek Thomas LaRock so eloquently puts it, you need to learn to pivot. And when you do, embrace the discipline that you’ve already developed and honed in your career: IT monitoring.

Your premises, your clouds, your scale

Monitoring as a discipline is ideal way to bridge the gap from your on-premises systems to your clouds at your scale. I think of monitoring as a set of eight key skills:

  1. Discovery: Show me what’s going on.
  2. Alerting: Tell me when something breaks or is going bad.
  3. Remediation: Fix the problem.
  4. Troubleshooting: Find the root cause.
  5. Security: Govern and control the data, app and stack planes.
  6. Optimization: Run more efficiently and effectively.
  7. Automation: Scale it.
  8. Reporting: Show and tell to the management teams/business units.

I’ve seen monitoring referred to as something free, something completely automated and orchestrated, or a mere checkbox. The problem with this myopic view is that it ignores the high value of the aforementioned eight skills. Each of those skills will translate well into the hybrid IT paradigm: One set of critical on-premises services connected with another set of services in the cloud.

Staying ahead of the game

Traditional IT organizations are embracing transformation, as evident by Amazon Web Services’ continued simplification of cloud services for enterprises to consume. Even so, many organizations still face resistance internally to change whether it materializes as technology debt or technology inertia.

So, we IT professionals must take ownership of our premises, our clouds and our scale with MAAD. It’s definitely not all quiet on the cloudy fronts. The storms of continuous change are brewing and IT professionals need to stay ahead of the game. If you’re in the calm, the storm is now upon your organization, and disruption is about to be forced on you.

I’ll end with words from a highly distinguished monitoring engineer who’s always on the leading edge of technology, Adrian Cockcroft. Cockcroft says that  IT professionals have three key goals:

  1. Align IT with the business.
  2. Develop products faster.
  3. Try not to get breached.

That all three goals can be achieved with monitoring as a discipline is just utter MAAD-ness!

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See Kong Yang live at Interop Las Vegas, where he will present, "DART: An IT Skills Framework To Disrupt Without Disrupting." Don't miss out! Register now for Interop, May 2-6, and receive $200 off.