What management software would help my business?

Over the last year, our IT infrastructure has become increasingly pivotal to retaining business. We’ve implemented a number of management tools from different sources, some better than others, but we’re finding that the ‘kitbag’ approach is less than optimal. Some of the tools are basic, they lack integration, and don’t have adequate support. We’d love to adopt a vendor approach to circumvent these issues, but I’ve heard that management tools from the likes of Hewlett Packard, CA and IBM are very expensive to buy and implement. Is there a solution to this problem?

A. Nigel Brown writes:

First, it’s great to hear that you’re taking infrastructure management seriously. And, yes, the solutions out there can indeed be a minefield – not only in terms of cost, but also with respect to complexity and administration overheads. It’s rare to find a company that has never had an IT problem or complaints from users, internal or external. Many businesses tend to act when something major goes wrong, but if you anticipate small problems before they happen, you can save yourself a whole lot of heartache in the long run. Fortunately, there are vendors out there that are gradually changing their approach to monitoring IT infrastructure, to make it better suited to businesses that don’t have hundreds of users and countless IT staff. Unlike previous approaches to systems management, these offerings are not just cut-down versions of an enterprise toolset. They’re feature-rich monitoring and service desk products, but with pre-built reports, out-of-the-box best practices, and server and network discovery. This means you can be up and running in just an hour. Here’s what to look for: Monitoring: Powerful monitoring and management functionality in an easy-to-use and cost-effective solution, so you can proactively manage and resolve issues before they affect your business. Service desk: Check for a service desk solution designed specifically for smaller and medium-sized organisations. Ideally, it needs to encompass a broad variety of features that enable a single point of contact to automate service request, incident and problem management. Finally, make sure you source your chosen solution from people who will work closely with you to ensure you’re getting what you really need, and who can implement it for you, so all you have to do is sit back and start using it.

Since co-founding IT infrastructure solutions provider Orb Data in 1998, Nigel has led business administration, finance and sales. Previously, he worked for IBM business partner IT Masters. http://www.orb-data.com/

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