What To Look For In a Server Monitoring Solution

What to look for in a monitoring solution? Why, all the good stuff ServerSuit provides you with, ho ho ho....

But seriously, while I'd love for you to be sold on ServerSuit immediately, I'd like to cover what a server monitoring solution typically provides and why it's a good idea to have one. Let's not stall any longer and get into it.

Monitoring systems generally have two functions. The first is gathering usage and performance data of your server over time, allowing you to track things like longitudinal CPU or memory performance for example. The second function is notifications and alerts about current server status. This is for events like the CPU reaching above some specific performance threshold, or if the server can't establish a connection to something else you were expecting. Many monitoring apps provide both of these functionalities.

Monitoring systems are made up of several software components that allow them to work. Usually, the way these components are integrated is what you'll be looking when choosing a monitoring solution.

Pollers

These are systems that poll your server components for the data metrics to be recorded. Common utilities are SNMP (simple network management protocol), WMI (Windows management instrumentation), running scripts (written with bash, perl, powershell, etc), running agents (software that sits on each client and records data on the server or pushes it to a monitoring server). Different systems collect this data differently, and which one you'll choose will depend on your hardware/software environment. ServerSuit uses SNMP for its polling.

Configuration

This is how the monitoring system is set up to collect data. Most software environments have a lot of repetition, where you'll want to monitor multiple servers, or even server groups, with similar components and sofrware. This can either be set up through a UI or through a text editor, and depending on your needs you might choose a UI based solution for simplicity or a text based one for versatility and greater degree of control. ServerSuit is UI based since we're geared more toward individuals and small scale setups, which tend to appreciate simplicity.

User Interface

Having a good criteria for what a UI should provide will go a long way in helping you decide on a solution. When looking at a UI make sure it has accesible overview of your information, while having good detail pages. UI speed matters, as UI that takes too long to load can be frustrating. Pay attention to customization options, since a mark of a good UI is that it shows you what you want to see and doesn't show you information you're not interested in or not using.

Alert system

Different solutions have different ways of sending notifications, usually using common communication channels like SMS, email, phone, or messaging services. How these are sent out is also important. See if the solution has escalation features (who to contact when the primary contact doesn't respond), rotations, and groups.

Mostly you should pay attention to something that's reliable and snag free. It's actually not that uncommon to expect to get an alert but having it not trigger because of some checkbox or other detail in the configuration that you didn't tick.

Data storage

Basically, where is the system send and store data. You should check to make sure you have access to raw data, which can be useful to create custom graphs, and that the system is scalable since data can build up fast.

Graphs

Graphs, as mentioned in the UI section, are pretty important to let you identify trends in performance. This can be the difference between getting an upgrade or replace a component ahead of time and having the system stall or crash before haing a chance to do so.

Special Features

Reporting

Similarly to how graphs can shine a light on a longstanding server issue, good, detailed, reports are important to figure out what needs to be fixed or improved.

Templates

Templates are great because they allow you to set up a lot faster. They will have predefined settings that are already configured to monitor systems like yours, saving you time. Since ServerSuit is also a management software, we also have several software templates to speed up set up.

Discovery

Systems that can scan your environment for changes can significantly speed up set up and running of the monitoring systems.

Distributed monitoring

This is if you have multiple locations to keep track of, you'd ideally want to use a single system that uses multiple pollers that can communicate, instead of separate, independent system at each location.

Decision Decisions

So, after going through and understanding these concerns, how do you actually pick a monitoring system? Well, obviously, you should get ServerSuit that's free to set up and go! We got a helpful and smooth UI, allow you to set up new servers automatically, and provide you with pretty much everything I listed above without any installation. Being browser based, there's nothing to install as ServerSuit uses regular Linux processes your system is already running to collect that data.

However, everyone's needs are different which makes the question of "what should I pick?" hard to answer. I hope that this run down of operational criteria helps that choice.

As always, if you have any questions, get at us on Twitter and Facebook, and don't forget to like and follow for more articles and updates about ServerSuit.

Until next time!

September 09 2019

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