What is Server Monitoring?

by | October 11, 2016

Traditional server monitoring is performed by systems administrators who watch the performance of key server processes to ensure the health of a server deployment and who react to signs of servers that are starting to malfunction or get overwhelmed.

That’s a pretty dry description of an activity so crucial to website operators that companies devote entire departments to it and an industry has developed around providing the service to companies that don’t have the expertise to do it or the money to support it in-house.  With so much at stake for businesses today, keeping their online presence working right and available to their users is a key performance component for every enterprise.

Old-school server monitoring relies on the engineers who design they system to specify operating characteristics around CPU utilization, Disk I/O and consumption, network traffic and other resource usages that are key to the performance of the deployment. As these key metrics reach defined thresholds, system administrators and developers have to intervene to find out the cause and the solution to these anomalies. If they don’t react quickly enough, their websites will slow down and eventually crash.

New monitoring technology relies on artificial intelligence and machine learning as key components to the monitoring software. The monitoring software learns the system’s characteristics over time and establishes a baseline of what is ‘normal’ behavior for the website and then uses that knowledge to determine when system activity is far enough outside of normal to alert human monitors to take action to ensure system availability.

Whether your website runs on traditional bare-metal servers or they’re deployed in the cloud on virtual machines, keeping the servers running at peak efficiencies and moving quickly to provide remediation of developing problems is a must-do and server monitoring is the key to keeping on top of your systems.  There are quite a few system monitoring tools that are designed specifically to monitor server health across all the important measurement points, providing usage graphs that allow the eyeballs monitoring the servers to see when system usage reaches threshold points. What these packages lack is the ability to tell those eyeballs how the application is really running. You can’t tell how your end user is experiencing your website by watching CPU utilization alone, or bandwidth usage, or any other one or two metrics.  You need a way to see your website the way your users see it.

Using a combination of tools, including application monitoring and synthetic monitoring, can provide deeper insight into website health and application performance. This can help detect systemic problems as well as coding issues to help keep your business online and your users satisfied with your site’s operation.

Apica Product Team