Skip to main content

This log was made for rolling, rolling, rolling....

So I promised a blog post about monitoring and alerting in IT systems, so here it is. As with most liberal arts snobs I have a 'personal philosophy' about how to do things the best way. This philosophy is broken down in to three different components, based upon two critera; timeliness and context. Timliness in terms of how quickly an event needs to be acted upon, and the context in which the event is applicable. Therefore, a holy trinity of monitoring allows IT professionals to get the best information possible for any given situation. After all... the more you know.....

First off is the most immediate in timeliness, that of immediate alerting. When a system is about to come crashing down, seconds are of the essence. It's in this context that immediate alarming and alerting allows 1st level responders to get in to a system at the first sign of trouble. With any luck, they can repair and cirvumvent any problems before the problem is noticed by the client. This type of alerting involves alarms about what's going on in the system right now, at this moment. Often it involves monitoring of hardware and networks, and databases. There are lots of different tools that exist in the application sphere to accomplish this type of monitoring, and many also include hooks to ticketing systems and gateways to send texts and pages to appropriate support personnel. This is the type of system that you would see an operator sitting in front of, watching for any sign of trouble.

The second type of alerting and monitoring is what I call mid-term monitoring. This is the type of alerting that helps in a system health context, but is not immediate. When considering this type of alerting questions such as, "How did my system do over the past 3 days?" and "Have there been any spikes at odd times over the past week?" The context is still system health, but the perspective is much broader. The best mid-term monitoring solutions encompass more than just mid-term monitoring, but also integrate log interrogation. These tools help not only keep an eye on system performance over a period of time, but allow for debugging of system logs in ways that are fast and effecient. One of the best examples of a tool in this field is called Splunk, probably the finest log monitoring and indexing software out there right now.

The final level of monitoring is far less immediate, and it revolves around capacity management. In capacity management, we are most concerned with how our resources are being utilized over a long period of time. Statistics need time to gather and be aggregated to be useful for capacity management. A single spike on a single day may signal trouble to the first two levels of monitoring and alerting, but for capacity management you want to see that spike continue before you are concerned. Where as the immediate monitoring moves at the speed of a hare, capacity management is slow and careful like a tortiose.

Combined, these three types of monitoring allow systems to be as visilble as possible to the IT staff maintaining them. Coming up with a good strategy for dealing with each of these levels is key to building a successful enterprise IT system.

Happy logging!

Popular posts from this blog

Push it... push it real good...

The other day I got a chance to play with the new Apple force touch trackpad. This is a new design that Apple has put on their laptops for non-mechanized clicking on trackpad. When you press on the trackpad it senses the force that you're pressing with, and when you reach a certain level, you feel a 'click'. If you keep pressing, you feel a second 'click'. The unique thing is that these 'clicks' aren't physical in nature. The trackpad never moves at all, but the click that you feel is from haptic feedback. In essence, when you press with enough force, the trackpad clicks back at you. You feel the sensation of clicking, but it's simply the trackpad responding to your pressure.

I got to play with this for a while, since the Apple Store rep was talking with us about soccer, and after a short bit I was getting the hang of it. I feel that it would take quite a bit longer though to really feel comfortable with this new paradigm. I'm someone who has a …

The beat goes on

Yesterday Apple revealed their long awaited entry into the streaming music field. They were able to do this quickly because of the acquisition of Beats last year, and the systems and intellectual property that came with that purchase. Considering that the music reveal was pretty much the only big news out of a pretty benign developer keynote, I'll take a few moments to talk about what I think about it.

Apple was perhaps the defining company in the music revolution of the past 20 years. With the introduction of the iPod that revolutionized portable music, to the creation of the iTunes store and the eventual death of DRM, Apple has been at the forefront of digital music. This leadership comes with high expectations to continue to lead, and so many people have long questioned Apple not getting into the streaming music business quicker.

For the past few years new companies have come forth to lead the change in the streaming music evolution. From Pandora and its ability to create uniqu…

Hack! Slash! Burn! Crush!!

The big tech news story of the weekend was the hacked account of Mat Honan. As documented in his posting on Wired.com, in the space of a few hours his digital life was in shambles. And as much as we always talk about strong passwords, etc., this was not a case of password failure. It was a case that shows just how our desire for on-demand, cloud based services that are convenient can come back to haunt us.

I highly suggest you go read all 4 pages of the article, but the quick summary is that a hacker wanted control of Mr. Honan's Twitter account. In order to get it, they started with basic social scouting, and proceeded to use all of the built-in tools of Google, Amazon and Apple to gain access to his accounts without ever needing to crack a single password. At Google they discovered what his Apple ID e-mail address was when they did a simple "Forgot my password" query. Then at Amazon, they called up customer service and game'd the system to get access to the last 4 …