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How IT is taking centre stage during Covid-19

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/violetkaipa)

As the final curtain closes on another awards season, we’ve seen film associations recognise the most impressive performances from actors on the big screen. In dedicated categories, an individual’s performance can be the difference between winning and losing against the competition—the same can be said for other sectors, such as sports and music. The individual gets the recognition. However, if you take another industry (such as IT), the performance of the individual isn’t the only thing needing to stand the test of time. The performance of the technology behind them is what will make or break success.

Over the last couple of months, Covid-19 has thrust IT teams into the spotlight for the first time in many organisations. Often overlooked or forgotten, now business continuity plans are being tested on a global stage, forcing IT pros to find and fill gaps quickly. The need for collaboration systems such as Cisco Webex®, Microsoft® Teams, and Zoom has been emphasised, resulting in potential system capacity and performance overloads and a greater need to monitor performance and availability.

All of this comes as the volume of data businesses contend with is increasing, with no signs of slowing down. For IT pros, this means there’s even more complexity to manage. This can put a huge amount of pressure on a few individuals, who must unpack, manage, and implement plans to optimise web performance and stop incidents from occurring. All of this amplifies stress on IT professionals as their role in keeping organisations and employees up and running securely is brought to the fore.

Without the right infrastructure solutions in place, IT pros can be oblivious to what’s happening across their IT systems, which—in this new landscape—poses an unprecedented level of risk. They may be blind to issues, changes, or patterns within their organisations, a dangerous game if not managed correctly. So what can be done?

IT pros are only as good as their tools

In the same way actors need to invest in a role—memorising lines, immersing themselves in their characters, and practicing the necessary emotions—organisations need to invest time in their audience-facing websites to ensure continuity, speed, and security. If these suffer, it puts a brand’s reputation at risk. The BBC, for instance, loses 10 per cent of its users for every second its site takes to load. In addition, research by Google found over half (53 per cent) of visits to a site are likely to be abandoned if pages take longer than three seconds to load.

Within any organisation, it’s vital for customers to be loyal and remain loyal against the competition. But the need to constantly improve an organisation’s site—alongside their day-to-day roles—can feel like a juggling act for IT pros.

User experience is just as important internally. Employees looking to keep vital business operations going need access to the right apps, whether they’re on-premises or in the cloud. In the new normal, managing this access among a higher volume of remote workers has changed. Monitoring applications, infrastructure, and network performance and quickly troubleshooting problems cannot rely on historical baselining. The complexity of keeping services up and running is magnified when time is of the essence.

Over the last two decades, IT solutions have gone a long way towards helping IT pros transition from a one-man show to a group production. IT pros and their chosen tools can set up automated alerts to bring their execution to the next level, delivering the performance of a lifetime when it’s needed most. The right tools can help IT pros not only thrive in their new starring role but be recognised by their peers for their success.

The starring role

The centre-stage position IT pros are finding themselves in is one they couldn’t have anticipated. Although they’re performing in front of bigger audiences than they ever have before, seeing and predicting what can happen to their systems has always been a significant part of the job for IT pros. It’s a role for which they’ve been practising for a lifetime. Some will be used to manually monitoring data across their systems, and others will have automated models, systems, and practices capable of identifying issues before they occur, predicting possible performance problems, and ensuring they’re equipped to stay one step ahead.

An efficient system will ensure IT pros can spend less of their little time manually looking at data and more time generating critical data insights. IT pros can be led by the data when presenting vital statistics back to the business, particularly as stakeholders request new levels of reporting and visibility.

External users aren’t going to tell you if your site isn’t measuring up: they’ll just abandon you for someone else. Employees will either figure out jury-rigged workarounds or light up your Slack® chat or email if they can and your phone lines if they can’t.

To staunch the tide of dissatisfaction, unproductivity, and cost inefficiencies, you need hybrid infrastructure and application performance monitoring (APM) tools. APM solutions help you monitor your entire application stack, including your applications, user experience, and the performance of the entire infrastructure required to conduct business transactions.

Classically, APM has been used only for select “critical” applications and infrastructure. There were stated reasons for this, of course: budgets and perceived complexity. With simple, cost-effective, and quick time-to-value APM solutions now available, it’s time to reassess this strategy. Simplicity, power, and affordability are crucial in a time when affordability can make the difference between success and failure.

If everything “works” from an IT perspective, IT becomes invisible, making it one of a business’ most overlooked and unsung functions. But during this global crisis, IT is in the spotlight as stakeholders rely on their IT pros to keep the lights on. With this in mind, it’s time to double down on monitoring across the depth and breadth of our applications and infrastructure. Think of it like this: because everyone is home, everyone is now a user of your application stack.

Sascha Giese, senior pre-sales engineer, SolarWinds