What is Systems Management, and Why Should You Care?

Systems management software covers core IT functions for many small businesses—especially those that don’t have an IT department. If you don’t have the bandwidth or resources to perform regular IT maintenance yourself, you could face expensive, long-term consequences due to malfunctioning hardware, corrupted data, or out-of-date software. 

Whatever the reason, the cost of recovering data, replacing tools, and restoring employee productivity can be enormous. Your business could also face stiff penalties if you’re unable to store, retrieve, monitor, and transmit data in accordance with regulatory requirements. Systems management software may be the solution to avoiding these problems, but there are a few important factors to consider before implementing another software to run your business.

What is systems management?

As mentioned above, systems management software is a streamlined tool that covers the core functions of IT for businesses that don’t have in-house IT staff. These functions include:

  • Service desk
  • Hardware management (inventory and configuration)
  • Software management (inventory)
  • Network monitoring
  • Security
  • Performance analytics
  • Automated backup and recovery

You can manage all of your business-critical IT needs from one platform, which will help minimize downtime and prevent expensive repairs or replacements. Aside from reducing long-term costs, systems management software also helps with regulatory compliance. It provides a bird’s eye view of your security perimeter, so you’ll have all of your need-to-know information readily available.

If implementing and maintaining another software application is too much of an undertaking for you, a managed service provider (MSP) might be a suitable alternative. Systems management services from an MSP may cost a bit more, but this option will give you the peace of mind that your IT systems are running efficiently without the burden of day-to-day maintenance.

Systems management software considerations

Criteria such as company size, device type and quantity, IT infrastructure complexity, and IT resources and expertise all come into play when considering centralized systems management software. A small business with a lean IT infrastructure, for example, won’t find as much value in centralized systems management as larger corporations. Instead, managing each device individually might be a better approach.

As companies grow, a lack of centralized management can become a pain point—or worse, a security vulnerability. At the same time, though, the sheer number of products and approaches on the market can be overwhelming, and the cost of traditional enterprise system management solutions can send some small businesses into sticker shock. Driven by the need for a quick fix, businesses can end up with several disparate products that don’t work together. This can create both short-term gaps and integration and scalability problems over time.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution or shortcut to an easy fix. But small businesses can avoid these potential pitfalls by keeping these tips in mind:

  • Regularly assess gaps, bottlenecks, and vulnerabilities in your IT environment.
  • Look for vendors and solutions that can address immediate pain points, but will also provide scalable capabilities that your company may need over time.
  • Seek out vendors with solutions designed to meet the needs of SMBs specifically, like SolarWinds, Zoho, and ManageEngine.

Systems management is proactive IT management

Passive IT management can create blindspots that can be more expensive to fix down the road. Whether you choose to use systems management software, outsource these needs with an MSP, or manage all of your IT systems individually, it’s essential to have a plan in place to actively maintain your IT infrastructure. Otherwise, you could have business-threatening vulnerabilities that you don’t know about until it’s too late.

This article was originally published on March 23, 2011. It was updated by Kaiti Norton.

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