Enterprise Systems Management Defined

Enterprise Systems Management (ESM) is concerned with control, monitoring and the management of IT infrastructure and applications in order to optimise IT service delivery.

It’s been around for a number of years and came into existence as a direct result of the almost universal adoption of distributed network computing and the new set of management challenges this created. ESM is essentially based on a marriage between remote monitoring and configuration techniques originally developed for distributed networks and control and management practices borrowed from mainframe and midrange computing environments.

A well-designed and properly-implemented ESM solution allows IT personnel to support and manage a larger, more complex and more geographically-dispersed IT infrastructure than would otherwise be the case. This is achieved primarily through automation of monitoring tasks which would otherwise require periodic manual checks of every system to ensure that the network devices, servers and applications used by an organisation were functioning properly.

Automated notification of detected faults allows personnel to rely on the ESM systems to tell them when there is a problem that requires their attention, enabling them to use their time more productively on project delivery and other “value add” activities. In some cases it is possible to delegate the resolution, as well as detection, of problems to the ESM systems, providing further opportunities for efficiency savings.

Performance monitoring, tuning and capacity management techniques – again borrowed from larger host-based computing environments – also fall under the “ESM” banner. Other activities such as job scheduling, software distribution, IT inventory management and data backup/restore may be included in a wider definition of ESM depending on the particular requirements, culture and structure of an organisation.

In recent years, ESM has evolved from a primarily technology-centric to an increasingly service-centric discipline, as organisations embrace IT Service Management (ITSM) in the drive to deliver continued competitive advantage through technology. The emergence of ITSM best practice frameworks such as ITIL has prompted a paradigm shift in which the “traditional” ESM disciplines of network, server and application monitoring, performance tuning and capacity management have become components of a more holistic, business process-aligned effort to maximise IT service quality, availability and continuity. It is becoming increasingly common to see ESM being used as an enabler for ITSM by providing better visibility of the availability and quality of IT services delivered via IT infrastructure and applications.

The principal benefits which organisations derive from ESM are as follows:

* Reduced IT headcount required to support a given size of IT infrastructure leading to salary savings and/or increased resource availability for project & development work
* More efficient utilization of valuable technology assets allowing upgrade or expansion costs to be avoided or deferred
* Increased availability and performance of technology infrastructure and applications meaning that users can work more efficiently and business is not lost to competitors when applications are down
* Optimisation of IT service delivery leading to improved customer satisfaction and perception of IT as a business enabler rather than just a cost

As globalisation and the rise of the Internet dictate ever-increasing increasing reliance on technology to remain competitive, ESM is becoming an essential aspect of organisations’ IT activities and a large number of products from many vendors are now available to support implementation of solutions to support their requirements in this field.

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