Your “Up-to-the-Minute” IT Monitoring Software is Way, Way Too Slow

The phrases “up-to-the-minute” (and, strangely, its counterpart “down to the minute”) are supposed to make something sound ultra-fresh and right on top of things. News organizations use them all the time. They’re used in sales pitches so often that they have become a cliché.

Breaking news: In the IT world, a minute is an eternity.

Major IT monitoring platforms boast that they can detect anomalies and spot issues down to the minute. That’s a fair and accurate claim; 60 seconds is a standard speed for these platforms.

Sixty seconds is undoubtedly better than checking once per hour or once per day.

It would have been really impressive in, say, 2010.

But it’s not 2010. A lot can happen in a minute. Now that the technology exists to monitor and detect IT issues substantially faster, there’s no excuse for settling for a minute.

What do we mean by substantially faster? How about three seconds? 

No, not three seconds faster.

Three seconds, total.

This seems like a good spot for the “mind-blown” emoji.


Still thinking that three seconds and 60 seconds aren’t that far apart?

Let’s put that in perspective.

57 seconds is everything

Allergic reactions: Within three seconds of exposure to a severe allergen, life-saving medication can be administered to someone experiencing anaphylactic shock. After a minute, there can be severe complications, organ damage, or even death.

Industrial accidents: A three-second shutdown can prevent equipment damage and inhibit loss of life. A full minute of a malfunctioning piece of heavy machinery would be catastrophic.

Stock market: If you’re a day trader leveraging a high-frequency trading algorithm, delaying action by a minute can mean the difference between a highly profitable trade and a massive error.

Power grid management: If the system can take action within three seconds, a fault in the power grid can be detected and isolated. An uncontrolled power surge lasting a full minute can elicit widespread blackouts and severe damage to electrical infrastructure.

Aviation: How about an aircraft collision avoidance system? Would you get on the plane that can initiate evasive action within three seconds or the one that has a one-minute delay?

Okay, these got pretty serious. To lighten things up, imagine if those old shopping spree game shows gave you three seconds instead of sixty seconds to grab everything you wanted. Within three seconds, you’d probably end up with one wonky potato—if you’re fast.

One minute in IT and cybersecurity

Sixty seconds is enough for a skilled hacker to exploit a vulnerability, gain access to a device, network, or app, and exfiltrate sensitive information.

Clearly, three seconds versus 60 seconds makes a big difference here.

But if you think those 57 seconds only matter when the issue is as urgent as an active cyber attack, think again.

Monitoring as precise as three seconds can detect patterns that would be significantly skewed—if not missed entirely—with software that’s 57 seconds slower. When it comes to pattern detection, even 10 or 20 seconds makes a huge difference. 

Three-second detection catches productivity barriers like glitches and lags that go unnoticed at the minute level. Delayed detection creates an environment where these productivity barriers are ingrained in the employee experience. Viewed at the individual employee level, a pattern of dropped connections, long log-in times, app buffering, or other productivity barriers might not seem like a big deal. Now multiply that by every interaction with that productivity barrier, all day, every day. Now multiply that by all of your employees.

How much productivity are you missing out on?

What does that translate to in terms of your bottom line?

How much frustration are you creating?

What does that mean in terms of engagement and retention?

Better by the thousands

There are innumerable books on leadership and business that advocate for being marginally more efficient and effective. It’s supposed to be approachable and unintimidating. You might be told to strive for one percent better. Five percent better. Maybe even ten percent better.

Going from 60 to 3 seconds in your IT monitoring and detecting is two thousand percent better.

That’s not a typo. 2,000%.

Maybe your monitoring platform is doing pretty well—you’re at a 15-second delay. 

That’s excellent. But it could be five hundred percent better.

These differences add up quickly. 

Sometimes, taking longer is better—when spending time with loved ones. Enjoying sunsets. Taking vacations (depending on whom you’re with!). But the reality is that the world of business and technology is moving faster. Failing to keep pace means falling behind.

The next time you hear someone boast about “up-to-the-minute” coverage, ask yourself what’s being missed.

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