What is systems management? Definition and meaning

Systems management refers to the centralized management of an organization’s IT (information technology). It is an umbrella term and includes a number of tasks needed to manage and monitor IT systems. Systems management is strongly influenced by how networks are managed in telecommunications.

Companies, government departments, charities, schools & universities, trade unions, healthcare services, associations & societies, and religious organizations have people specialized in systems management.

Every commercial enterprise, unless it is a tiny fruit stall in a street market, has IT requirements – in fact, many tiny fruit stall owners probably use a computer for work. As a company grows so do its requirements, as well as the need to efficiently manage and safeguard IT and data assets.

Systems ManagementSystems management covers a wide range of tasks, from operating systems, infrastructures to applications. (Data Source: searchitoperations.techtarget.com)

According to Techopedia.com, systems management is:

“The enterprise-wide management of IT systems. It is usually directed by an organization’s chief information officer (CIO). An organizational department or division with specific systems management responsibilities may be known as a management information system (MIS). Network management, telecommunications or database management are systems management components.”

The most common tasks that form part of a company management system are:

– Anti-manipulation management

– Hardware inventories

– Making sure all systems are free of and protected from viruses and malware

– Managing security

– Managing storage

– Monitoring capacity

– Monitoring network capacity and utilization

– Monitoring users’ activity

Server availability & metrics

– The design and day-to-day operations of the data center

– The integration of third-party cloud services

CIO ideal traits - Systems ManagementAccording to Dan Roberts and Brian Watson in their book “Confessions of a Successful CIO: How the Best CIOs Tackle Their Toughest Business Challenges“, successful CIOs value people, make tough decisions, are results-oriented, have the confidence to step up and answer the call when required to save their companies, take risks, know how to network, are self-aware, and excel in anticipating the future.

The main aim of the systems management team is to facilitate the delivery of ITaas (IT as a service) and allow employees to respond to changing business requirements seamlessly.

Head of systems management

In larger organizations, the head of systems management is called the CIO (chief information officer), CTO (chief technology officer) or IS manager (IS =  information systems). The department is commonly known as MIS (management information systems), IS (information systems) or IT infrastructure and operations.

The IS manager implements information technology within a company, and oversees his or her team of IT professionals.

The manager’s duties include information systems planning, plus the installation and maintenance of hardware & software, including upgrades. He or she may concentrate on a specific issue such as internet services or network security, or may coordinate all the organization’s technology operations.

If you enjoy networking and love a fast-paced, problem-solving IT role, then you would probably be a good information systems manager. You must have experience in the sector – in areas such as operations or technical support – before you will be considered for a manager’s position.

Information systems managers exist in any type of organization in the industry and services sector.

Service management versus systems managementService Management treats each application as a service. It is all to do with thinking about the big picture, says IBM, and looking at it through the customer’s lens, not the IT lens. As you can see in the video at the bottom of this page, IBM prefers to use the term Service Management rather than Systems Management. (Image: adapted from blog.itil.org)

Application performance management

Application performance management, or APM, is a subset of systems management. It involves the management and monitoring of performance and availability of software applications.

In other words, APM is the art of managing the performance, availability, and user experience of the software applications used in an organization.

APM specialists strive to detect and diagnose complex problems related to application performance. Their aim is to maintain an expected level of service.

According to the APM Digest: “APM is the translation of IT metrics into business meaning [i.e.] value.”