The 4 types of metrics you should monitor to keep your servers under control
"Why is my server down?" is a common question that comes up among system administrators and infrastructure managers quite often. Inefficient server monitoring and management often make it difficult to analyze the unpredictable and complex information running through data centers and discover the reason for an outage. That's when an effective server monitoring tool comes in handy. However, the real challenge lies in selecting appropriate server management software and monitoring the right performance indicators.
So what does it really mean to select the right monitoring tool with the right performance indicators? Well first, it's important to understand your requirements before getting started. Depending on the application running on your servers, your monitoring needs may vary. However, regardless of what the application is, there are a set of performance metrics that should be monitored 24x7.
Server Availability and Uptime
Server uptime reflects the reliability and availability of your servers, stressing on the need to have your servers always up and running. It is not required to spend every minute checking on your uptime report, but it is essential to know when your server is down. For production servers, uptime of less than 99% calls for attention, and less than 95% calls for trouble.
System-level Performance Metrics
CPU, memory, disk usage, and network activity are usually the immediate suspects when you identify a server performance degradation issue in your data center. Checking on these metrics help detect servers with insufficient RAM, limited hard drive space, high CPU utilization, or any bandwidth bottlenecks. This will make it a lot easier to troubleshoot and act fast before you run into problems with your servers.
Application-level Performance Metrics
The application running on your servers is composed of multiple services and understanding the intra-service dependencies, connection patterns can be difficult. Monitoring each and every service and process running on the server can tell which service/process is impacting server performance, analyze the server load, and manage system resources.
Security-level Performance Metrics
With so many background tasks running in your servers, it can be quite difficult to know what is being written or modified to or from your files. A monitoring eye to notify of such changes would be a real time-saver to keep you aware of unauthorized access that could result in the loss of sensitive data or any improper changes done that can cause data breach and compliance failure. Knowing when files are modified, content changes are made, or even if specific resources are accessed can help act as an intrusion detection system and secure your infrastructure. Another important metric to keep an eye on to avoid security issues are the logs generated by servers, applications, and security devices. Monitoring these logs can help system administrators scan and search for errors, problems, specific text patterns, and rules indicating important events in the log files.
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May I submit for your consideration the performance engineering standard model for resources and costs. Your article seems to be approaching this. You have four elements in your finite resource pool. You want to understand the use of these at the OS level, and also at the level of your services. In addition to the raw look down metric at a point in time, you want to understand deeper details:
- When was the item allocated?
- How long was the item allocated/when was it released?
- How often was the resource used?
- What quantity of resource was attached?
All of these questions shape the nature of the resources used to support and individual user or request. Response time is a symptom of an issue, no different than a cough or a sneeze. It is how the resources are used which drive a greater or lesser response time from the system, as well as how scalable and resilient the system is under load.
James Pulley, PerfBytes