How to Prepare for the Coming Age of Dynamic Infrastructure

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Monitoring Infrastructure Is Essential for Optimizing Performance

Your network monitoring system should foster efficiency and transparency

The most essential element in optimizing performance is detecting issues before they impact your systems. However, you need to implement constant monitoring on your operating environment to gain this early insight. There are tools to help, but finding one that provides all the right information is often a challenge.

Complex interactions between applications, networks, servers and other infrastructure components bury the issues, which make it difficult to find a universally compatible monitoring tool that doesn't add more complexity to the environment. The issue with the tools available today is that they don't dig deep into the data, and/or they tend to focus too narrowly on the type of infrastructure they can monitor. The best monitoring tool provides broad insight into multiple systems and correlates data in a single interface - viewing only part of the system doesn't provide a complete picture of what's going on. To optimize performance, you need different points of view and you need to know how all of them tie together.

When you have IT responsibilities dispersed throughout the organization, this issue becomes even more complex. In some companies, database, network and storage may all be managed by individual groups - in fact, each one may be managed in different locations. And separate monitoring systems may be in place for each function. If data is gathered only within a single system, it can fail to show the real problem. Issues investigated in a silo have each team focused on optimizing their individual problem rather than optimizing for overall business goals. Cross-team communication can help, but the right monitoring tool can help improve effectiveness.

What Makes an Effective Monitoring Tool?
An effective monitoring tool should provide the metrics on all of your systems in one place. This transparency will help you avoid expending unnecessary resources while determining the root cause of an issue. A common example is systems reporting slowed response time, with no apparent change in loads. The DBAs may spend an hour trying to figure out what has changed, but in fact the change was in the underlying storage system, which is shared among different hypervisors. In actuality, a testing team is taking valuable IOps from the storage system by doing stress testing of another host attached to the same resources. Since each business unit lacks a complete view of the entire system, valuable time has been wasted.

Painting an Accurate Picture with Metrics
Businesses are currently focusing more and more on Big Data and metrics. Yet pure performance metrics don't necessarily paint a complete picture when it comes to monitoring. For instance, delays may be normal during peak usage, or it may indicate the start of a problem - performance measurement indicators that provide the data without correlating it to other factors do not provide insight into exactly what is happening. However, a monitoring tool that offers a graph of database queries processed by each percent of CPU consumed can show you if changes in CPU load are due to changes in workload, or if the issue is related to available virtual resources or code changes.

Ideally, your network monitoring system should foster efficiency and transparency. The best systems offer dynamic device discovery, continuous scanning, automated configuration, self-correction, powerful analytics, and custom alerts. Also, one of the most important features is automation. Combining automation within the monitoring system yields both efficiency and access to insights that can help organizations make effective business decisions.

Combining Both Business and Infrastructure Metrics
As IT infrastructures become increasingly complex, there's a heightened need for transparency and communication. Access to the most comprehensive data and insights can drive optimal performance by helping an organization fine-tune operations, troubleshoot issues, and proactively resolve problems before they impact the business. For the best results, focus must be on solving business problems rather than individual issues. Combining both business and infrastructure metrics can help you become much more efficient at deploying resources and resolving core issues. If you employ the right monitoring tool, it can help you achieve these objectives.

More Stories By Steve Francis

Steve Francis is Founder and Chief Product Officer at LogicMonitor. He has been in the IT industry for over 20 years, and has both operational and management experience in several companies that experienced rapid growth. He even obtained a CCIE back in the days when it was a multi-day exam. Having been responsible for data center operations for organizations as diverse as National Geographic, the University of California, Citrix Online and Valueclick, he brings a wealth of real world knowledge about effective data center monitoring.

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