Living the Monitoring Renaissance

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At the beginning of the 2000’s, I was working for a global service provider.  I was a Team Lead in the Network Operations Centre where we monitored our global private network as well as the infrastructure and our custom applications that made up our service offering.  This was a little company that was known then as Research in Motion, and we were supporting the services that made the BlackBerry handheld device work.

I wound up leading a team at RIM that was responsible for our monitoring tools, both the COTS stuff from the leading vendors of the day and our own internally developed software as well.  My team spent five years building monitoring systems, and if I look back now with the benefit of hindsight, the results were mixed.  We were what seemed like a never-ending battle between the capabilities of our tools and the needs of our users.  There was always something new to monitor, always improvements we needed to make to existing monitoring, always a search for that “best of breed” product that would tell us The One Thing that we needed to prevent an outage before it happened. We promised our users that we were moving from reactive to proactive monitoring, and eventually from proactive to predictive monitoring.  

It was heady stuff, and we worked hard at it.  Unfortunately, the technology available to us just wasn’t good enough to accomplish this magic trick.  What’s more, it came with some significant ongoing costs.  At its peak, our team dedicated to the monitoring stack was about 35 people and we had a sizeable fleet of compute and storage equipment deployed around the world to support the goals.

Keep in mind this was all before public cloud was real.  Whenever we wanted to expand or improve our offerings, it inevitably required us to buy more compute, or storage, to rack and stack more kit to get what we needed.  The order cycles were long, and by the time we had done all the work needed, our targets and needs had shifted to some other urgent requirement.  Inevitably, we got really good at writing some “temporary” glue scripts to surface some metric that was “good enough” until we could deploy the designed solution to the need.

If you look at the basic needs we were trying to provide for, they were pretty simple: 

  • Tell me when something has broken in the monitored estate
  • Give me some metrics that tell me when I need to add more capacity to the system
  • Clear out the clutter of alarms and tell me what I need to work on first

Sound familiar?  Probably sounds like a conversation you had some time in the past week with someone in your company.

The needs have not changed. What has changed is two things: On one hand, we see customers consuming more and more cloud-based services to run the business.  There aren’t many customers we work with that run their own Exchange, or SharePoint, video conferencing, chat or similar services.  These are generally now consumed from the cloud via Office 365, Zoom or Slack, because these providers are much better at running these services than we as IT practitioners are.

On the other hand, we’re now seeing the availability of tools that can perform cost-effective data analysis at scale.  These capabilities are key in that journey towards proactive/predictive monitoring, and represent something we could never reasonably aspire to do on-prem.

These two factors are really indicators that we’ve moved into a renaissance in the monitoring discipline.

We at Empowered Networks have been doing intensive testing of the LogicMonitor platform over the past few months.  LogicMonitor provides all the monitoring most customers will need in one place at one price.  LogicMonitor is a cloud-based product with on-premises collectors that provides:

  • Fault monitoring
  • Performance Monitoring
  • Monitoring of on-prem, cloud infrastructure and cloud services
  • Log analysis
  • Website availability and perspective monitoring
  • Configuration monitoring

The platform rolls out quickly and gets you to a base state rapidly.  Data collected is stored for as long as you’re a customer.  There’s almost no maintenance involved in running the platform day-to-day.

The Monitoring Renaissance, a “revival of or renewed interest in something” is here today.  As practitioners, these new platforms give us a bunch of new and improved capabilities to solve for the needs imposed by containers, virtualization, cloud infrastructure and cloud services, as well as addressing the needs of traditional infrastructure in a new and novel way.  It’s time for us to look at monitoring and to leverage these new offerings to reduce cost, speed up monitoring of new technology stacks and improve visibility for the business.  Are you ready to improve your monitoring system?  Let Empowered Networks show you what’s possible in this age of the Monitoring Renaissance.