Driving Towards IT Hygiene | Challenge #1: Tool Proliferation

10.10.2019 | Osman Javed

Managing enterprise IT environments is becoming more and more complex. In this series, we’ll take a careful look at the challenges that have stemmed from this growing complexity. Furthermore, we will highlight how focusing on fundamental IT hygiene can help you overcome these challenges.

In this installment of the blog series, we focus on the challenge of tool proliferation.

As complexity has taken hold, IT organizations have armed themselves with a litany of best-of-breed tools to tackle their most pressing challenges. A recent Forrester survey found that on average, organizations today use 20 or more tools from more than 10 different vendors to secure and operate their environment. Many large enterprises have upwards of 40 to 50 point solutions. The notion of tool proliferation likely comes as no surprise to those reading this post.

A best-of-breed approach works if it delivers the results an organization is looking for. However, when organizations suffer from outage after outage and critical vulnerabilities and patches go unresolved for months, the merits of taking a best-of-breed approach come into question.

Nearly 75% of respondents agreed the sheer number of tools in their organization limits the effectiveness of Security and IT Operations. However, IT teams have little in the way of alternative approaches. For most, the best-of-breed approach has been the only option available.

Today’s IT environment

Twenty years ago, IT management solutions came as legacy platforms. They provided unified functionality, and their architectures for monitoring and acting on the environment worked under the relatively limited requirements of that era. However, around 15 years ago, rapid changes in computing (advanced threats, increasing scale, IaaS, virtualization, remote-work, cloud) drove requirements in functionality and coverage those platforms could not adequately deliver.

Enterprise IT was forced to quickly adapt. Legacy platforms couldn’t handle the new requirements, and were leaving organizations open to disruption. Enterprises were forced to start buying point solutions to address the gaps, and every nuanced need, every new desired feature, and every response to change in the environment bred its own tool requirement and several vendor options. The result? Most large enterprises are now left maintaining data and integrations across 40 to 50 point solutions for systems and security management alone. A need to fill gaps has become a sprawl of tools that don’t play well with one another.

This environment makes driving IT hygiene nearly impossible. Each tool offers different visibility and different data. Tools are expensive to deploy, learn and upgrade. They are often not extensible to the inevitable changes that happen over time, and thus have short shelf lives.

To address this, IT leaders need to step back and set aside all your tools for a moment.

  1. Identify the deliverables and capabilities your organization needs to deliver agnostic of your tools and technology.
  2. Go through each tool individually and catalog the capabilities it provides.
  3. Create a Venn diagram to see where overlap exists between these tools. The overlaps are your opportunities for consolidation.

This audit and evaluation exercise helps inventory your current state and start the process of improving IT hygiene. In the next part of the IT hygiene Blog Series, we’ll look at how tool proliferation can hinder visibility into your network, creating a very weak foundation for IT hygiene.

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