What’s your reaction when the “Check Engine” light goes on while you are driving your car? Do you immediately head to your local mechanic to have it diagnosed? Are you a DIYer who stops by the local auto parts supplier to get a free scan, or perhaps you own your own OBD2 scanner and use it to retrieve the error codes? Or, do you just continue to drive around hoping that it will eventually go out? The problem with that is the light usually doesn't go out – it just stays on, glowing at you as if to say “Hey, we have a problem here…..don’t ignore me!!!” I've known some people who cover it with tape just to feel less guilty.
There are plenty of tools that we use in our daily lives that serve as early warning systems – house alarms, smoke detectors, motion detectors, flood lights, video cameras…..the list goes on. We use these items in order to make sure that we are safe, that there is no danger present. If there is a lurking problem then these tools will notify us in advance and give us the opportunity to react before the problem gets out of hand and causes even more issues.
An important part of any cloud hosting provider’s service is monitoring – constant proactive monitoring. It’s a very important aspect to take into consideration when you are looking for a cloud vendor. There needs to be a system in place that allows your cloud vendor to monitor your systems 24x7x365. In the not so long ago past, hard drives would fill up, memory usage would max out, network connections would fail….and all this would happen to you right in the middle of a major business project. This is your business we are talking about and it needs to be up and running in order to be successful. Loss of business, profit loss and poor customer service can and will result if you aren't able to do your job. A good monitoring system will detect many of the aforementioned issues. Multiple services and thresholds can be created that will warn about potential problems. These issues can be investigated and fixed before reaching the point of failure. Your business will continue to run smoothly without any interruption. There will, of course, be issues that can’t be caught ahead of time – hardware failures, power outages, that full coffee cup knocked over directly onto a laptop.
There are a variety of ways cloud vendors can monitor your environment. A lot depends on the services that you decide to sign up for. Most will involve installing an “agent” and “probes” that will then get pushed out to all required systems. These probes will monitor specified services and will send out alerts if predetermined thresholds are reached.
The most commonly monitored items include:
- Hard drive / storage capacity. You want to make sure you have enough space for company-generated data as well as for any additional applications that may be installed in the future. If you start to run low on space, your vendor can make recommendations for increasing capacity or can possibly perform maintenance to reduce current usage.
- Memory usage. There will be times when applications or processes start to swallow up available memory and slow your systems to a crawl. Early alerts can allow for timely corrective actions.
- CPU usage. Similar to memory usage, processes can hang and specific job tasks can drive up CPU usage. Determining these can allow for changes to computing resources.
- Connectivity. Network and internet connectivity are key to all businesses. You need to be able to communicate internally as well as with your clients. Early alerts can determine where hardware or resource issues are occurring.
It’s all about “uptime”, making sure your business systems are running smoothly and operating to their full potential. Your cloud vendor becomes your real-time onboard diagnostics scanner and will work to make sure there are no error codes or irritating warning lights that you just want to tape over.
Written By: Tony Hernandez, Cloud Command Center Engineer, TOSS C3