Many IT professionals think of monitoring as a bundle of several areas that come under one roof. By erroneously seeing different monitoring tasks as one concept, vital opportunities are missed for increased data insights, full stack visibility, correlating transactions, and integrating security through a similar lens.
Monitoring has gone through a transformative evolution in the past twenty years. Data availability is driving many more possibilities. The good news is that, by viewing monitoring as three distinct pillars that can all work together seamlessly, you can unlock the full potential of this vital IT function.
From my point of view, monitoring can be organized into three pillars: infrastructure, logging, and application performance management (APM). Each of these pillars covers different areas, and offer different strengths. And, yes, there is some overlap between the different pillars regarding specific issues and challenges, but that’s part of the beauty of this approach. You can view each pillar of monitoring separately to help you gain a better understanding of how they can all work together to make this vital IT function more secure, efficient, and cost-effective.
Infrastructure monitoring is where a lot of the hardware and operating system metrics fit in. This pillar is more prescribed and covers a lot of the performance of data center hardware, such as server fan, memory, CPU performance, and operating system metrics. The benefits of infrastructure monitoring include greater uptime, visibility into system metrics, alerting on specific thresholds, as well as the ability to make custom checks and identify essential performance metrics.
Logging is the second pillar of monitoring. Here is where you receive and capture the data that all these devices are producing, such as core services, switches, routers, servers, and firewalls. Back in the day, logs were not always considered a form of monitoring, but simply a way to spot a problem and troubleshoot. Today logging can be much more standardized to unify operations and security through a different lens by predicting anomalies, enriching datasets, and applying algorithms for detection. Logging is all about protecting, detecting, and responding.
APM monitoring is the third pillar. This is more of the application layer. APM monitoring could be considered a combination of logging and infrastructure, but is much more heavily focused on the application layer. APM also allows you to gain insight into the dependencies an application has such, and provide insight around stack tracing like an interactive architecture diagram. This covers key areas like performance, cloud & on-premise, and transactional analytics. It can assist in environments with limited IT resources. APM touches everything across the board, and can help you see the big picture of your monitoring function.
The mature implementation of APM monitoring is particularly beneficial to organizations with optimized tool performance, effective baseline alerting, transparent data-driven decisions, and better forecasting of future needs. Other benefits include:
- Full stack visibility
- Actionable alerting on business services
- Meaningful dashboards with key KPI’s across technical & business units
- Capture of customer experience information
- Integration with operational products
Putting It All Together
So, now that you have a better understanding of each monitoring pillar, what are the practical steps your organization can take to execute on these three areas together?
First, it’s important to have your entire IT team comprehend the clear delineations and differences between each type of monitoring, instead of just one bundle. Assess what kind of monitoring tools you are now using, and where they fit in. Education and presenting use cases to your team will pay huge dividends down the road.
Once each pillar is defined, you can begin to bring it all together, even with multiple tools. In fact, the tools you use for each type of monitoring should overlap – when it makes sense – so that you can navigate between and across multiple layers. The goal is to be more proactive, forecast issues, and circumvent incidents before they occur
It’s also important to drive a conversation around culture to help break down silos, and avoid the blame game. The famous game pointing between network, storage, applications, operations, and infrastructure teams is not uncommon. When there are many tools at play in different areas, with fragmented, and siloed views of data – it’s difficult for teams to be on the same page, especially when people become defensive or entrenched in a certain stance. Promoting greater communication with a centralized view in Monitoring can help avoid the blame game, and foster a culture of collaboration.
Gain a Full Monitoring View
Evolving into a mature Monitoring stance needs to take into account all three pillars: APM, Infrastructure, and Logging. It will offer substantial advantage to your organization. By standardizing your toolset, and training teams in the same language – you can achieve a single pane of glass to unify monitoring for improved performance, problem resolution, business insights, and security overall.
At AHEAD, our expertise in all three pillars makes us uniquely positioned to be able to help organizations develop a holistic monitoring strategy. If you need assistance with your monitoring efforts, contact us today.