Way back in 2007, Microsoft invited me, along with several other writers from the IT community, to attend an “IT pro townhall meeting” in Redmond. I remember sitting in a room on campus, listening to Mark Minasi and George Ou talk about how the cloud was going to completely change the IT world – except that they weren’t calling it the cloud back then; it was SaaS (software as a service). A major thread in the conversation was whether the new way of doing things would make IT admins obsolete, and there was plenty of disagreement about that.
Fast forward to today. Companies are utilizing cloud services in droves, but IT admins are still around, and they’re busier than ever. The era when admins sat in the server room all day are in the past. You’re just as likely to be on the go, maybe bouncing between multiple physical locations as your network expands beyond the boundaries of your company’s main premises. And with the budget limitations under which many companies are operating, you just might be on call 24/7. Instead of having nothing to do, many of you are feeling more overworked than ever.
One way to make your tough job easier is to give you the ability to monitor what’s going on with all of the computers on your network and fix any problems that arise without having to trek down to the office. That’s where cloud-based monitoring, management and remote control can make the difference.
Sure, we’ve been able to access, monitor and manage our servers remotely for a long time, and there are already a number of different ways to do it. Remember the excitement when KVM over IP was introduced? Raise your hand if you remember PCAnywhere. Yes, Virginia, there was a time when Microsoft servers didn’t have Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) services built in. What, exactly, does cloud-based monitoring give you that those other methods didn’t?
For one thing, it saves you precious time by automating the process of monitoring and managing your servers and workstations. But wait – automated monitoring is already available to you through solutions such as System Center, SolarWinds, WhatsUp Gold and others. Why should you consider paying a subscription fee for “monitoring as a service” when you can buy monitoring software and run it on-premises?
The answer is that it can cut costs, both directly and by freeing you of the chore of maintaining the hardware and software that make up an on-premises monitoring solution. There’s no hefty capital investment required. You don’t have to worry about patching and upgrading the monitoring software. Deployment takes less than a day instead of days or weeks. With some services, you can be up and running literally in minutes. You don’t have to worry about installing any special software on the machine from which you’re monitoring (although you might have to install agents on the monitored computers).
Once it’s configured, there’s very little learning curve. Everything you need to see is all in one place and it’s easy for you to access it no matter where you are, as long as you have an Internet connection. You don’t have to worry about establishing a VPN connection. You don’t have to worry about RDP issues. You can do everything from a web-based console. You can log on with a mobile device, so you don’t even have to be at a computer to keep tabs on the state of the network. In all likelihood, you would not be able to provide the same degree of redundancy (and thus reliability) for an on-premises monitoring solution that a service provider can give you. You get to take advantage of the economies of scale without spending a fortune.
At this point, you may be wondering: What about security? That’s been one of the biggest concerns of organizations that are considering cloud-based services – but is the cloud inherently less secure? If you think about it, you’ll realize that an on-premises network that’s connected to the cloud is exposed to the same threats as those that might impact a hosted service. The biggest difference lies in who has control – and the corresponding responsibility – for implementing security measures to counter those threats. And if you think it through even further, you’ll realize that it’s very likely a good cloud services provider will invest as much or more money, personnel and other resources in securing their services. Their reputation depends on it, and it’s an integral part of their business model, whereas your company quite naturally focuses its resources on its own primary business, which probably isn’t IT.
Let’s face it: There are probably some computing tasks that your company will never trust to an outside provider, but server/workstation/mobile monitoring and management is one area where going to the cloud, sooner rather than later, can really make good business sense.
See for yourself how easy it is to manage and secure all your servers, workstations and laptops while you’re on the move – You can start a free 30-day trial of GFI Cloud today!