You know what it’s like: there’s always more to do than can be fitted in the day. There are always urgent deadlines, staff with crises, and short-term pressures.
With so many immediate demands on your time, how can you still keep an eye on the big picture? It’s a familiar problem, and increasingly, the IT infrastructure health check is becoming the solution preferred by organisations of all sizes.
For many of the organisations I speak to, their IT infrastructure develops in reaction to a series of specific business or project needs, rather than as part of a holistic strategy. For example, a company might add a switch to accommodate a hundred new users, but without fully evaluating how this will affect the network overall.
The consequences are all too familiar: your infrastructure starts to performance poorly and users start whingeing!
However much you’d like to, in reality it’s difficult to take a step back and see the wood for the trees. Most people just don’t have enough time to conduct a thorough health check, the opportunity to develop the breadth of skills necessary, never mind develop the necessary skillset, nor do they have the time to plan effectively – there are so many different demands and requirements on IT managers that it’s impossible to be expert in everything. And IT is, of course, a moving target, with near-constant demands and challenges.
External point of view
For some years, it’s been pretty much the norm for large enterprises to bring in an external company to conduct an infrastructure health check. And increasingly, I’m seeing smaller and medium sized organisations making use of this sort of service.
There’s also a lot to be said for the impartiality, and freedom from internal politics, that only an outsider can bring. An expert who is regularly carrying out health checks – rather than just every year or two, like an IT manager would – can spot the pain points, shed new light on an issue, and can often suggest a new solution that might have been overlooked.
An infrastructure health check typically involves a mixture of automated and manual investigation and analysis of the core infrastructure (compute, storage and networking) and workloads (such as Citrix, Active Directory, Exchange and SQL), resulting in a documented set of recommendations. Many of these are likely to involve amending, updating and improving configuration settings.
I worked with a customer whose SAN seemed to be slowing down their infrastructure. After doing a top to bottom health check of their compute, storage and network, I found that their storage was fine, but their compute was overcommitted. So instead of spending big money on a new SAN, they were able to resolve their problem at much lower cost with the addition of a couple of servers.
Baselining and planning
A health check shouldn’t just be a response to a crisis. It can be a good way of baselining performance, and finding small issues that may become larger problems if not addressed.
It can also help in looking ahead, for example how to undertake a migration to the cloud, or simple capacity planning. An external point of view can point out a different approach, or identify an opportunity to introduce a new technology or alternative solution.
Whether it’s to solve a problem or plan for the future, an infrastructure health check gives organisations the expert help they need to improve performance and ensure their infrastructure works efficiently, both today and tomorrow.
Total offers an IT Infrastructure Health Check service with packages focused on addressing performance issues with your core infrastructure, or your core infrastructure and core workloads, as well as a more comprehensive package which also seeks out unknown issues.