March 11, 2014: Before we go into more details of the Managed Services landscape, lets define the environment of a typical client (your mileage may vary). They will have five different areas that need to be “managed”. Servers, networking, client stations, telephony and mobile devices. The first four areas need to be tackled immediately. What we see is that most clients are still trying to figure out how to manage the whole BYOD area with mobile devices. They are educating themselves and still struggling with what is the right thing to do there..but that is a topic for another blog. .back to the typical client IT environment.
We breakdown the information and service activities to five primary areas: Alerts, Performance & Capacity, Logs, Events and Backup.
1. Managing Servers
In our model, an MSP needs to do the following for Servers. Maintain exact inventory of Server hardware and software at any given time. Need to ensure that patches are applied in timely fashion. The up/down status of the servers has to be monitored. Performance metrics are collected including CPU utilization, number of processes, interface utilization etc. and pre-defined thresholds need to be setup so if they are crossed, an alert is generated. Next is log and event monitoring. An MSP lives based on monitoring logs. They can be cumbersome to monitor/manage but they are extremely critical element to monitor, especially for intrusion or security related activity. And finally, everything needs to backed up, including data and configuration files – so that in the case of any issue there is a backup to restore the server.
The above functionality can be provided by a combination of various opensource and commercial tools. For example, we can use SNMP, syslog, Event reporter as well as rsync, scripts or similar opensource or commercial products for backup. The information collected by these monitors/sensors is critical for managing these servers but it also contains a treasure trove of very confidential information. It needs to handled very carefully and clients are rightfully very concerned about wanting this information to be safe and truly secure..(to be continued..)