After reading an article by Penny Crosman in the "Wall Street & Technology Reports" January 2009 edition about monitoring servers in a remote data center, a few thoughts on the importance of remote server monitoring were provoked.
The article discusses the need for in-depth remote server monitoring tools, monitoring dashboards, and skilled engineers who are capable of managing thousands of servers with millions of data points. Without the proper tools in place for monitoring servers, you may be lulled into a false sense of security about the health of your servers and the applications your customers rely on. You need proactive monitoring tools in place in order to know the server is in jeopardy – before it's too late.
Think about it – how do customers feel in 2010 when they can not access data?
Do not you hate when you need to access a website and you receive "Server Too Busy" or another server / application error message? It almost always looks to happen when you need access to a website and you have limited time to grab the information and get your job done.
Receiving an error message is so frustrating! It's bad enough when you squeeze in time on the weekend to pay bills online and can not load your bank's website. Just think about what paying customers feel like when they can not access critical data that is absolutely necessary to complete their job.
The cause of the error is usually one of the following:
1) Too many users trying to access underpowered server hardware
2) Server application error
3) Client browser, software, or end-user hardware error
4) Insufficient Internet capacity or bandwidth at the hosting location
5) Server or network security break
Making sure all of these issues are resolved can be very difficult. There's tons of pressure on IT managers to keep costs low and provide excellent server uptime, especially in the post-2009 economy. A good IT architecture (think VMware, great hosting infrastructure, capable staff, solid applications) and reliable remote server monitoring is a fantastic place to start.
In 2010, keeping your servers running, regardless of where you host them (in-house, colocation, or in a managed dedicated server environment) requires the right tool set to manage the infrastructure. Do you grab some open source server and network monitoring code, learn how to use it, deploy it, configure the probes and monitoring thresholds, and hope it works? Or do you beg for capital to purchase enterprise monitoring tools, support, and the corresponding training sessions? Or do you outsource 24/7 monitoring and support service to an outside vendor.
This can be a hard question to answer. Each presents different resource demands for capital and operational expenses, and risk of downtime exposure.
Regardless of the hosting environment, remote server monitoring can go a long way in helping to limit those problems and help you avoid downtime. While, not the solution for all "Server Too Busy" problems, it helps to ensure that problems and potential problems are brought to awareness as quickly as possible – and hopefully before negatively affecting your online customers.