10 Tips to Ensure Effective Infrastructure Monitoring 

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In this special guest feature, Adrian Phillips who leads product marketing for the Infrastructure Monitoring solutions at Dynatrace, believes there’s too much at stake to allow an oversight to result in a security breach or downtime. In this article, you’ll discover 10 tips to ensure your infrastructure monitoring is effective. Adrian’s passion is helping customers transform the way they work using data, AI, and cloud-based software. He holds a degree in journalism, and loves being with his family, or competing in disc golf tournaments, when he’s home in Raleigh, NC.

Few DevOps teams can afford to neglect a performance issue or security breach that can tarnish an organization’s reputation. Nothing illustrates that fact more clearly than the emergence of the Log4Shell vulnerability earlier this year.  

Meanwhile, in an era of big data, multicloud infrastructure, and digital transformation, the complexities and demands confronting IT managers have intensified. In recent years, it has become clear that traditional monitoring tools and processes are no longer practical or effective. Many of these tools failed to keep pace with the rapid technological innovations and evolving business practices. To make up for the performance shortfall, organizations found they were continuously adding new tools. Eventually, this led to wasteful tool duplication, also known as tool sprawl.

Infrastructure monitoring is an organization’s central nervous system. The purpose is to collect and analyze data from IT infrastructure, systems, and processes and assess system health. 

Modern problems require modern solutions

If a system performs outside a predefined range, that signals something is wrong and triggers alerts. But, as IT infrastructure becomes more distributed, traditional monitoring tools struggle to keep up. Too often, when it’s time to scale or upgrade, these tools are too plodding and inflexible.  

Additionally, organizations can’t afford to wait for alerts in the event an application component or system fails, especially if they plan to honor end-user service-level agreements. Instead, they must adopt a proactive position and identify and resolve potential infrastructure problems before they affect users. 

To ensure systems, services, databases, and applications are secure and operate reliably, organizations need a harmonious implementation of modern tools and best practices. These include ensuring hardware performance, such as sensors, drive health, and battery life — are monitored regularly. It means prioritizing critical alerts and ensuring operating environments are properly updated and configured. 

Organizations also need information presented in a way that’s consistent and understood at all levels of abstraction. 

Nuts and bolts of effective monitoring 

Still, there’s much more to consider. Below are 10 tips for monitoring infrastructure effectively:  

  1. Monitor components as well as the whole. Data and metrics from your backend systems, components, services, and the frontend application need to be included to get the full picture. You need to be able to monitor end to end and in real time, including ephemeral environments like functions-as-a-service (FaaS.) 
  2. Configure alert thresholds to notify practitioners when performance varies from a baseline. Early identification of issues can help resolve problems before customers are affected. 
  3. Conduct real user monitoring to gain an outside-in perspective. Capture metrics from real users to get the broadest coverage, and use those locations to influence where to capture synthetic measurements from. 
  4. Measure performance among multiple connection types. Performance and availability can vary across connection types, and include a representative sample of users. 
  5. Align metrics with business objectives. Why should others in the organization care about a metric? Describe how the monitoring data is relevant to objectives such as increasing customer loyalty, increasing revenue, or reducing costs. 
  6. Re-evaluate strategy regularly. As a company grows or an application changes, monitoring strategy should be re-evaluated. 
  7. Identify anomalies and outliers. We can learn more from the unexpected than from the everyday occurrences. Gaining insight into databases. Monitoring application performance in production is an absolute requirement to ensure business success. Look for tools that provide an AI-enabled approach to anomaly detection.  
  8. Gain a single source of truth. A modern infrastructure monitoring approach brings together disparate data sources to provide a consolidated, end-to-end view of anomalies and activity throughout an environment. Think beyond the dashboard.
  9. Synchronize your toolkit. The reality is that organizations use myriad tools. Modern observability platforms can help sync data streams and tool workflows. 
  10. Invest in the best monitoring tools, the kind that can oversee complex platforms and help prevent cyber-attacks from sophisticated threat actors.

End-to-end observability keeps everything running efficiently

Organizations now operate in multicloud environments and with cloud-native architectures. Therefore, they need to help their DevOps teams to simplify infrastructure management by providing end-to-end observability and automation where it makes sense. 

Finally, companies must empower IT teams to quickly understand how systems and components are operating on a moment’s notice.

This is how IT pros can keep apps, components, and systems operating at the highest levels.  This also leads to rapid response times, improved computing processes, and eventually to satisfied customers.

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