In the old world, your network was a simple place: a limited collection of servers, workstations, and network devices, generally all managed by the IT team. In that setting, it was easy to know which components were part of the IT system, and organizations could easily manage and update their inventory manually or with spreadsheets or databases.
Today’s networks, on the other hand, are complex and dynamic, including multiple applications, servers, cloud services, databases, middleware, and endpoints. These systems are interconnected and interdependent, creating a tangled web of dependencies that can be difficult to understand. What’s more, with the elasticity of cloud, an organization’s assets and resources may change from day to day.
This post will examine the need for IT system mapping and how it helps optimize IT resource management, cut downtime, and improve user experience.
- The Importance of IT System Mapping
- Putting an IT System on the Map
- What Does an IT System Mapper Do
- Fixing Problems Before They Occur
- What to Look for in IT System Mapping Tools and Software
- Say Hello to Faddom
The Importance of IT System Mapping
Without a clear picture of what’s going on across an environment, things can quickly start to go wrong. First of all, there is the issue of performance bottlenecks. Slow SQL queries, improper configurations, and unnecessary dependencies can impact your entire system. Then there are security risks. The old adage is true: You cannot protect assets you don’t know you have.
Inefficient resource allocation (and overspending) is yet another concern. Unless you know what you’re using and what you don’t really need, you’ll inevitably allocate resources inefficiently.
To clearly visualize today’s complex IT systems, an application dependency mapping (ADM) tool may give you a competitive edge. ADM tools create a clear, visual IT system map that lets you visualize your entire network and stay on top of issues before they impact performance. (On a related topic, learn more about IT documentation examples and best practices.)
Putting an IT System on the Map
An IT environment is more complex than it would have been 10 or 20 years ago. Today, “IT system” can mean a wide range of applications, infrastructure, databases, cloud, network hardware, IoT, endpoints including BYOD (laptops, tablets, etc.), and more.
An IT system map sets the record straight, providing a visual representation of the connections between various elements in an organization’s IT ecosystem: hardware, software, and data flows.
Where an IT system map can truly shine—depending on the ADM tool used to create it—is in displaying the interdependencies among applications.
Why is that helpful? Seeing how applications and resources interact can aid in identifying risks, bottlenecks, and other trouble spots, such as single points of failure. This enables the IT team to proactively manage these risks to improve an environment’s overall stability and security.
This is especially true with ADM tools that make use of automation and AI to ensure the big picture is always up to date. These tools provide the knowledge required to optimize resource use, improve application performance, and identify potential security risks.
What Does an IT System Mapper Do
An IT system mapper completes its discovery of an entire environment via several stages:
- Scan. Identifies system components including hardware, software, applications, cloud, network devices, and more
- Map. Creates a visual representation of relationships among these components: data flows, communication channels, and application dependencies
- Flag. Identifies potential security risks and highlights vulnerabilities in the system, helping IT teams prioritize these issues
- Maintain. Continues to work in the background, scanning for changes and updates in real time
As mentioned, some ADM tools also use automation, machine learning, or artificial intelligence to automatically identify and map system dependencies. This makes the process even faster and more accurate.
Once the system has been mapped, IT teams can use the information provided by the ADM tool to optimize system performance, allocate resources more efficiently, and improve overall IT security.
Fixing Problems Before They Occur
By creating a comprehensive system map, an ADM tool empowers a proactive approach. Seeing the entire environment highlights dependencies and identifies problems before they occur. This delivers ROI in several ways, as it facilitates essential IT tasks, discussed below.
When on-premises systems are out of control, ensnared in a nightmare of poorly documented and unclear devices, it can be difficult to create an orderly migration plan. IT system mapping cuts through layers of legacy hardware and technical debt to get at the truth of an IT system; this ensures a successful, cost-effective cloud transformation.
For organizations already in the cloud, change management—such as moving from one provider to another, streamlining, or optimizing—is far simpler if they’ve already performed IT system mapping and have a deep understanding of their environment’s configuration.
With a large open network, there’s little to stop attackers from moving laterally and attacking other systems. IT system mapping helps organizations implement microsegmentation, a big part of today’s zero-trust paradigm. This cuts down the blast radius in the event of an attack, lowering their overall risk profile.
IT system mapping also assists in detecting anomalies, for example, a new server or connection on the network, and acting quickly to minimize damage.
While many organizations move to the cloud hoping for flexibility and cost savings, that flexibility can actually work against them. It can be easy to lose control of cloud assets, resources, processes, and workloads—sending costs skyrocketing. IT system mapping indicates exactly what resources, including dependencies, are available, where, and why. This allows organizations to shut down any cloud resources that are simply dead weight.
What to Look for in IT System Mapping Tools and Software
When considering introducing an IT system mapping tool, organizations should look for the following features.
A dedicated ADM tool can often work faster than large, enterprise-scale software suites and platforms since it is focused on doing only one thing. An organization should be able to visualize its on-premises and cloud environments within one to several hours.
Questions to ask a vendor include:
- What performance metrics and benchmarks are available to test the tool’s speed?
- Does the tool scale to handle larger and more complex environments?
Many vendors and cloud providers offer limited discovery tools as part of their service or platform. However, since this is not their core expertise, these solutions don’t necessarily work with the widest range of devices and services. In addition, the results of these types of scans may be skewed depending on the vendor’s product or service offering.
Questions to ask a vendor include:
- Does the tool integrate with other development and security tools currently in use?
- What sources of information does the tool use (such as runtime data or external tools) to determine dependencies?
Some IT system mapping tools require the installation of agents, certain credentials, or reconfigured firewalls before they will function. This can add to the work of the IT team and potentially compromise security.
Questions to ask a vendor include:
- Does the tool require any additional software to be installed in order to function?
- Is it possible to use the tool without opening any additional ports or making any changes to firewalls or security policies?
A dashboard isn’t very useful if it’s showing information that’s out of date. Organizations require real-time insights into network and application topology and traffic, ideally with the ability to model the impact of changes before they’re rolled out.
Questions to ask a vendor include.
- Does the tool support real-time monitoring of the application’s dependencies?
- What type of alerting or information update is provided when changes or issues are detected?
Ease of Use
Organizations need a dedicated ADM tool that gets right down to work and does what it says it will. And it must do this effortlessly and without a lot of unnecessary and intrusive features.
Questions to ask a vendor include:
- Does the tool provide automation or guided workflows to streamline analysis and make it faster and easier to obtain insights?
- Is there a free trial to test the tool with minimal risk?
Say Hello to Faddom
IT is the core of an organization’s operations, and an IT system mapping tool is the best way to bring all systems in line and manage them effectively. With a comprehensive view of their entire ecosystem, ADM ensures that an organization’s IT systems are operating at peak performance.
Achieving these benefits does not have to be difficult. Faddom is today’s simplest, most affordable way to gain the insights organizations need.
Faddom maps servers, applications, and dependencies across an entire environment:
- Fast. Faddom provides a comprehensive picture of all dependencies in as little as one hour.
- Independent. Faddom is all about IT system discovery. It does what it says more quickly, easily, and affordably than any other tool on the market today.
- Secure. The solution is lightweight, with no agents, credentials, or firewall changes required. It even works offline.
- Real-time. Data on network traffic is available immediately, as it happens, enabling immediate insights into dependencies and changes.
- Easy to use. Faddom requires no credential changes or internet access to help IT departments run more smoothly.
With Faddom, organizations can get started for free, gaining insights that deliver ROI in multiple areas: improved application performance, enhanced security and compliance, and reduced IT costs. They can additionally eliminate waste and avoid investing in unnecessary resources.
Faddom’s IT system mapper also helps organizations plan for the future, ensuring the success of any cloud migration or transformation. We help you visualize your hybrid on-premise and cloud infrastructure with continuous, automatic updates — in as little as 60 minutes. Start a free trial today!