Introduction

It's all too easy to lose sight of the hardware and software on which businesses of all sizes now depend. New applications are deployed all the time, while networks are extended and updated as replacement technologies come and go.


It's all too easy to lose sight of the hardware and software on which businesses of all sizes now depend. New applications are deployed all the time, while networks are extended and updated as replacement technologies come and go. Then there's all those desirable gadgets that, somehow or other, always manage to get bought regardless of your official purchasing policy.

It can be a battle simply keeping track of what you’ve got, let alone making sure everything is working properly. Ignoring the problem isn’t an option. At best, this merely leads to frustration and delay -- not least when you're upgrading or deploying new systems. At worst, it can reduce the operational efficiency of your business and impact on the bottom line.

Fortunately the need to monitor and manage IT systems is well recognised, and there's now an entire industry devoted to providing the necessary tools and expertise. You can get software to tell you when a router goes down, or tools to monitor application performance, manage access security and make sure your systems comply with the latest legislation, and much more. However, the range and diversity of products can itself be an issue, making it difficult to choose the best solution(s) to meet your particular needs.

Should you, for example, stick with the tools provided by the vendors of your network, server and desktop hardware, or do you need more specialist products? Can the two sets of tools coexist, and do you need to do more than simply keep the hardware healthy?

You’ll also be faced with a choice between so-called 'point' solutions designed to handle specific management tasks, and larger integrated suites that may be more comprehensive but are also complex and expensive to deploy. Plus, you’ll want to understand how the different solutions sit with what you have already, and how well they meet the needs of your business.

In this guide, therefore, we’ll be looking at exactly what’s on offer when it comes to systems management. What the various tools do, how easy they are to use and how they measure up against the specific needs -- and budgets -- of the SME (Small and Medium-sized Enterprise). We’ll also discuss the business issues and explain some of the terms and jargon involved. Finally, we have some real-life case studies to help illustrate the issues that can arise and the benefits of several specific systems management solutions.