State of Monitoring: 10 Trends for MSPs, CSPs, VARs

Whether its cloud monitoring, systems monitoring, application performance management (APM) or log management, life is getting complex for MSPs, IT service providers and the customers they serve.

But what's the overall state of monitoring? Big Panda -- which specializes in automated incident response -- surveyed 1,700 users and found these 10 trends. ChannelE2E has added its spin to each trend.

1. The modern monitoring stack is increasingly diverse and complex.

BigPanda Says: Represented among the top 10 most popular tools are solutions for systems monitoring, APM, web and user monitoring, and log management.

ChannelE2E's Spin: Generally speaking, many MSPs remain overly focused on server, infrastructure and endpoint monitoring. Don't forget APM -- application performance management.

2. The top 5 monitoring challenges.

BigPanda Says:

  1. Quickly remediating service disruptions
  2. Reducing alert noise
  3. Securing budget for the proper tools
  4. Quickly identifying service disruptions
  5. Migrating services to the cloud

ChannelE2E's Spin: All five of those "challenges" are actually opportunities for IT service providers. Corporate IT departments are overwhelmed by those challenges. They wouldn't be -- if such services were outsourced to MSPs.

3. IT teams are feeling alert pain more than ever before.

BigPanda Says: Almost half of those surveyed receive over 50 alerts per day from their tools, and about a quarter receive more than 100.

ChannelE2E's Spin: Here again, a perfect opportunity for MSPs to ease customer pain. And if the MSPs are overwhelmed, it's a perfect opportunity to outsource help desk and NOC services to companies like Continuum, GMS Live Expert, Live Virtual Help Desk, NetEnrich or a similar specialist. (Whom did I miss?)

4. Alert floods have a clear and 8 substantial effect on remediation.

BigPanda Says: Of those who receive 100+ alerts per day, only 17% are able to investigate and remediate the majority (75-100%) within 24 hours.

ChannelE2E's Spin: Why isn't this stuff outsourced to an MSP? Why?

5. Strategic monitoring is clearly important, but execution is lacking.

BigPanda Says: 80% agree that strategic monitoring is important to their organization, but only 12% are very satisfied.

ChannelE2E's Spin: Surely, satisfaction rates would increase if this stuff was outsourced...

6. A good monitoring strategy goes a long way.

BigPanda Says: Respondents who are satisfied with their organization’s monitoring strategy find critical IT issues much easier to handle and report the best rates of remediation.

ChannelE2E's Spin: Hope is not a strategy. IT service providers should be meeting with customers to discuss the overall end-user experience -- past, present and future. And the end-user can include internal employees, or external partners/customers. Monitoring is one piece of the overall end-user experience strategy.

7. IT performance is increasingly tied to business performance.

BigPanda Says: Customer satisfaction and SLA compliance take the lead as the most common KPIs to measure IT performance, outranking MTTR (mean time to repair) and incident volume.

ChannelE2E's Spin: Alas, half of small businesses ignore KPIs entirely. But companies that shift to real-time KPI monitoring tend to outperform those that don't. Here are 10 IT service provider KPIs that VARs & MSPs should be thinking about.

8. Good news for budgets, but not for ROI.

BigPanda Says: Only 16% anticipate a decrease to their overall IT budget in 2016, but a dismal 9% agreed that they were very satisfied with their organization’s monitoring strategy, based on overall investment.

ChannelE2E's Spin: You know Albert Einstein's definition of insanity -- doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Instead of spending more on IT and getting the same dismal monitoring results, it's time for IT departments to outsource more and more of those responsibilities.

9. Best practices for monitoring.

BigPanda Says: Among those who consider their organization's monitoring process to be strategic, 69 percent also have a process in place to identify the root cause of incidents, 60% agree that developers are actively involved in supporting applications, 75% say developers build monitoring into their code, and 89% consider their organization to be agile.

ChannelE2E's Spin: No doubt, most of those best practices involve larger businesses. Small businesses simply don't have the time, talent or resources to master monitoring, DevOps and more. MSPs need to drive home those realities during customer meetings.

10. Small companies need help, too.

BigPanda Says: Survey participants represented the following company sizes

  • 1-50 employees: 17%
  • 51-200: 15%
  • 201-1000: 21%
  • 1001-10,000: 26%
  • 10,000+: 21%

ChannelE2E's Spin: You can't always correlate monitoring needs to company size. For instance, small startups often have web-scale needs as they gather, manage, store, optimize, protect and monetize data. As a result, those small businesses often are willing to pay a premium for effective third-party monitoring.

Bottom Line

Generally speaking, many corporate IT departments seem overwhelmed by monitoring challenges. Armed with the data points above, it's time for MSPs to relieve their pain.


Joe Panettieri

Joe Panettieri is co-founder & editorial director of MSSP Alert and ChannelE2E, the two leading news & analysis sites for managed service providers in the cybersecurity market.