Change is a constant in today’s increasingly complex IT
environment. There are internal and external demands
for speed, availability and reliability — not to mention the
continual pressure to do more with less.
Infrastructure availability and reliability are not
competitive advantages. Instead, they are essential
to the survival of any Web business. Web pages
that won’t load, unresponsive applications and
back-end systems that fail to complete transactions
cost website owners in revenue, productivity
and reputation. Even a delay by one second in
page-loading time can double your bounce rate.
Ouch, that hurts!
IT staffs are getting smaller while infrastructures
are now more complex. In addition to servers and
databases, your infrastructure includes networking
gear, applications and storage. Cloud computing,
virtualization, clustering and failover
systems add to the complexity.
Outages and service degradation can happen
at multiple points, leading to downtime, resource
inefficiency and lost revenue. With so many devices,
your entire technology stack must be monitored
to assure the continuity of your Web
IT monitoring solutions are a critical aide in
optimizing today’s infrastructure performance. A
monitoring system can proactively discover and
help accelerate remediation of problems such as
erratic network connections, slow webpage
downloads, database inefficiencies and email delivery
However, installing, configuring and maintaining
monitoring tools can be daunting, especially
for organizations with small IT staffs. For
each device in your stack, you have to know the
• what needs to be monitored
• how to collect the right data
• how to display that data in a useful, visual form
• at what point alert thresholds should be set
• how to set up escalating alert chains
These are onerous requirements for teams
already overburdened with critical IT operational
While monitoring is essential, choosing the
wrong system or approach can add to rather than
alleviate the pain. Consider the experience of a
social media website called Ranker.com.
Ranker makes it easy to create lists on any
topic imaginable. Visitors then vote and rank their
favorites. The company launched in 2009, was associated
with the hot tech startup accelerator
LaunchPad LA, and now has 3.5 million unique
visitors a month.
Ranker had a monitoring system in place, but
the rapid growth it was undergoing was not helping
the website meet its business goals for availability
and performance. There were two major
issues, according to Premesh Purayil, Ranker’s V.P.
“Whenever we added a new server to our environment,
we had to jump through hoops to add
the new server into monitoring,” he says.
There was also the issue of outages not always
being detected and escalated appropriately,
causing significant impact to Ranker’s traffic
“There were times where the site might be
down for an hour before someone realized it,” Purayil
Ranker’s IT monitoring challenges are not
unique. In most organizations, a “sys-admin” lacks
the time and the operational experience to figure
out what matters on a new device or software.
With the fast rate of technology changes, not
everyone can be expert in everything in their infrastructure.
In addition, even the best sys-admins
are human. For example, in the heat of resolving
a technical issue, the sys-admin may create a new
With higher-priority issues to solve, they intend
to add the new object into monitoring but
often forget. Six months later, the volume fills
up, all hell breaks loose, and everyone wonders
why the monitoring system didn’t warn them.
Even when problems are identified, without
good historical data, the engineers could easily
devote from a full day of developer time to trace
Perhaps a cure?
A monitoring system adds value if the benefits of
the system are greater than the acquisition, implementation
and operational costs. Generally, the
benefits obtained from a good monitoring system
will be increased uptime, fewer service degradations
and the elimination of downtime.
Two notable outcomes are reduced staff time
to investigate performance issues and better utilization
of, and transparency into, IT performance
intelligence throughout the organization.
A monitoring system that is easy to set up and
does not require a dedicated sys-admin improves
the efficiency of an IT organization. The ideal
monitoring system UI should be intuitive, empowering
the entire IT staff with real-time visibility
into IT performance in order to quickly
identify and respond to issues.
Your monitoring system should collect a wide
variety of data, from all devices in the IT infrastructure,
and that information should be able to
be assessed in a way that provides operational efficiency
to the business. For example, the overall
performance of device types, of data center, collocated
or hosted IT and cloud services, should
be accessible by those who need access to the intelligence.
The information should be made visible
in graphical format and allow for automated
reporting that makes it easy to spot trends, correlate
issues and be utilized for decision-making
throughout the IT organization.
Your selection criteria should be driven
by business values, except for specific technical requirements
such as the ability to monitor a specific
protocol. Once you’ve identified monitoring-solution
options, weigh the benefits against the acquisition,
plus implementation, plus the operational
ownership costs of each option.
After the assessment and discussions, however,
your selection of a monitoring system comes
down to one simple statement: Forget about features.
Pick the monitoring system that adds the
most value to your business.
About the Author: kevin McGibben, CEO, Logic Monitor. Kevin brings strong global experience in market strategy and channel implementation. He previously founded 32 South to assist mobile and new-media technology companies in strategically expanding into international markets. Kevin also founded firms in the VOIP, consumer products and Web 2.0 industries. His experience includes international marketing, channel development and general management positions with technology companies Fujistu, TEKELEC and CIDCO.