Editor's note: The following is a guest article from Chris Hallenbeck, CISO for the Americas at endpoint security and systems management company Tanium.
In a recent Gartner survey, almost one-third of end-user respondents said the biggest drain on staff resources was troubleshooting performance and availability problems.
That's because IT teams are constantly dealing with performance issues ranging from slow computers to application crashes. They often fix those problems manually and lose valuable time.
Here are some of the biggest issues taking time away from enterprise IT teams:
1. Not enough or too many tools
The Gartner survey noted "users often complain of limited visibility with too few tools or too much complexity with too many tools."
It's the classic Goldilocks problem: having too few tools can mean there are gaps in knowledge and that IT teams have poor visibility into problems that end users face. Not having enough tools means IT teams end up spending time hunting down information and guessing at the origins of performance problems.
At the same time, IT teams can feel paralyzed with too many tools competing for their attention.
At the level of architecture, a "just-right" solution is one that applies management intelligence directly onto individual laptops, servers, virtual machines, containers or other endpoints so IT teams can quickly see, control and secure all devices, remediating performance issues right away.
2. Limited visibility
An enterprise network might contain tens or hundreds of thousands of endpoints. Ensuring that every piece is performing well is a daunting task for any IT team and teams typically prioritize the "squeaky wheels"— that is, performance issues that end users complain about.
But end-user requests are only a fraction of actual performance issues.
Consider this example, which comes up more often than you might think: end users at typical large organizations, having adjusted to slowed-down performance as "good enough," usually have time to get a cup of coffee and greet coworkers while their computers are booting up.
Now imagine the scale of that happening every day to thousands of people at a single global organization and think of how much time and productivity are lost because those end users have just come to accept that performance won't improve.
To end users, a slow boot-up is business as usual and their IT departments aren't aware it's even happening. If IT teams don't know what's going on across their environments, they are unable to respond at all, let alone immediately.
To keep up with these challenges, IT teams must have the ability to monitor, investigate and remediate performance issues at scale on desktops, laptops and servers.
Once IT teams have visibility into all endpoints, they can more quickly determine the root cause of end user experience issues, including problems with hardware resource consumption, system health, application health, software patches or updates that crash or slow down systems, too much time to boot up, or applications that drain performance resources.
Once the root causes are identified, they can be more quickly addressed.
3. Manual processes
When end users do report problems, IT teams often resort to manual troubleshooting processes that often fail to identify the root causes of those problems.
They will open applications or kill processes in an attempt to understand why a computer was operating slower than normal. This is another example of how valuable time is lost; what they need is a tool that can identify the underlying causes quickly.
The absence of continuous monitoring also means that there's no historical data to rely on when remediating a performance issue. As a result, teams revert to manual troubleshooting processes, which can be time-consuming and filled with guesswork.
Using manual processes is part of the reason why IT teams are currently spending too much time on tickets, increasing their mean time to repair (MTTR). They need a way to proactively solve end user issues, improve MTTR and reduce tickets to improve workplace productivity.
The path forward
Performance issues within the enterprise cut down the productivity of all employees, but they also diminish the capacity of one of the most important elements of any modern business: the IT team.
A team that is caught up in routine technical issues has less bandwidth to improve operational efficiency within the enterprise and secure the entire information architecture.
To restore valuable time and strategic capability, IT teams must insist on the following capabilities in their tools:
- Monitoring and notification on critical performance metrics. It is important for organizations to be able to track hardware resource consumption, application health and system health.
- Proactive analysis of the health of endpoints and triage problems. IT teams must be able to visualize what problems have occurred and the commonalities between them.
- Troubleshooting with rich historical data so that users can understand what performance events have occurred on each endpoint.
- Together these capabilities allow IT teams to identify and resolve performance-related issues before they lead to business disruptions and affords them the time and data they need to anticipate and resolve performance issues.
The cumulative effect is an IT function that is more capable than ever of driving strategic change across the organization.