Early Warning Systems: Data Center Monitoring
September 11th, 2012 By: Industry Perspectives
As a Solution Architect at Akibia, Patrick Bourke is responsible for assessing and designing data center solutions to meet the ever evolving requirements of today’s enterprise organizations. Bourke has more than 13 years of experience designing and implementing cutting edge IT solutions.PATRICK BOURKE
Organizations need continuous access to their network and computer infrastructures, and even a brief interruption to critical business processes can have devastating effects on revenue streams and customer confidence. By outsourcing data center monitoring to a third-party service provider, organizations can take preventative action before a problem occurs.
Today IT teams have more responsibilities than ever before, and are operating with fewer resources. Monitoring, although vital to the business, is only a small part of their daily jobs.
It is important that IT teams are aware of potential problems before customers notice them, and with effective monitoring, problems can be fixed before they escalate. For example, if an IT team was alerted that a drive was failing in a storage array, the failed drive could be swapped out before the failure occurred and the availability of the system would not be affected.
Organizations also implement monitoring solutions for capacity planning. The collection of data over time helps with trend analysis and forecasting when additional bandwidth or horsepower may be required. Getting ahead of the curve is far better than playing catch up.
SLAs and Monitoring
Additionally, some organizations need to meet SLAs for their customers, and monitoring parameters including network bandwidth, application response time, server up/down and user counts is critical to ensuring those SLAs can be met.
Considerations for Monitoring
Before implementing a monitoring solution, organizations should consider the following:
- What are the critical components of the infrastructure that need to be monitored? Consider all routers, switches, firewalls, VPN devices, critical servers, attached storage, UPS systems, etc. If any of these were to fail, what would be the potential impact on the company and customers?
- What level of monitoring is required? For servers, consider key metrics such as disk space, CPU load, memory usage, temperature, etc.
- Who needs to know about each component’s status and who should be contacted if something goes wrong?
- What are the organization’s reporting requirements and who is the intended audience of these reports – IT staff, executives, customers?
- Does the solution require additional hardware or software to be installed in the infrastructure? Will software need to be installed on critical servers? Are there security implications to consider?
- What do you hope to accomplish by monitoring? Improved response time to outages? Proactive fixes to issues as they arise? Streamlined notification into your trouble ticketing system and staff alerting? Capacity planning?
- Does the company have the required hardware, software, budget, knowledge, experience and staff resources to build and operate a monitoring solution in-house? If not, the organization should consider enlisting the help of a third-party monitoring service provider.
Once an organization has decided to outsource their data center monitoring, they should look for a vendor that is responsive to issues, possesses expert-level knowledge, is flexible in their configuration, secure from a network perspective, fault-tolerant and offers many monitoring options. Furthermore, they should take care of everything regarding the monitoring software licensing, maintenance, and patching.
There is obvious value in having an organization’s infrastructure monitored, including the ability to focus on the firm’s key revenue-generating activities and properly utilize their core competencies, proactively prevent outages if possible, increase critical network and system resource availability, stay in touch with the trends present in the complete environment to aid in capacity planning, and reduce the time for corrections and fixes.
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A data center with 24/7/365 monitoring/access, a quick response time, UPS and network redundancy really does take a huge load off of a company. When computers are down many of us know all too well how it cripples productivity until things are up and running again.