Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Zakia Bouachraoui, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: FinTech Journal, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @DevOpsSummit

FinTech Journal: Article

Monitoring By @SolarWinds | @CloudExpo #APM #ML #Monitoring #DevOps

Linux, Java, Oracle and MySQL create mass monitoring confusion and are routinely considered ‘hard to reach’

Monitoring Those Hard to Reach Places: Linux, Java, Oracle and MySQL

Today's IT environments are increasingly heterogeneous, with Linux, Java, Oracle and MySQL considered nearly as common as traditional Windows environments. In many cases, these platforms have been integrated into an organization's Windows-based IT department by way of an acquisition of a company that leverages one of those platforms. In other cases, the applications may have been part of the IT department for years, but managed by a separate department or singular administrator.

Still, whether it's a perception of required specialization, frustration over these platforms' many version permutations or just general uncertainty and doubt, Linux, Java, Oracle and MySQL create mass monitoring confusion and are routinely considered "hard to reach" for even a seasoned IT professional. This problem goes both ways (when monitoring Windows is actually the unnatural element) but for the most part, IT shops are primarily Windows-based and consistently struggle to monitor these more niche platforms.

Of course, it's certainly possible for IT professionals who are proficient in Linux, Java, Oracle or MySQL to successfully monitor these platforms with their own command-line scripts or native tools - many even enjoy manually writing code and command scripts to monitor these instances - but this strategy will ultimately increase the organization's likelihood of performance issues. Why?

First, should the IT professional tasked with creating unique code and scripts for these specialized instances ever leave the business, the organization will be vulnerable to downtime while another team member is trained on how to operate the native tool or also learns to develop command-line scripts for these platforms.

This isolated technique also exacerbates the biggest challenge of monitoring in any environment: sprawl. It may seem easier to maintain the status quo and continue operating disparate tools for the hard to reach platforms, but it ultimately adds another layer of complexity to the overarching monitoring system. Having too many monitoring tools to manage increases the chances that some will be forgotten (especially the tools used to monitor Linux, Java, Oracle and MySQL instances), meaning performance issues or downtime will take much longer to remediate.

Not only that, but niche monitoring processes lack the type of sophisticated metrics that help create a more effective IT department. Here are several command lines for each specialized instance that will return basic metrics:

  • Linux command lines such as ‘top,' ‘glances' and ‘htop,' for example, will provide basic metrics like performance, CPU, memory and any pertinent errors to be aware of.
  • A ‘performance_schema' command line for MySQL on Linux will display tables of wait states and information about sessions (how many executions, how many rows are examined, etc.) to uncover inefficient queries. Rather than run command lines on the server, Oracle also offers a built-in desktop workbench that works in a similar fashion.
  • J-Console, a built-in dashboard available with Java installation, provides an overview of all tools running on the platform. It looks at heat/memory uses, classes, threads (important to monitor for security leaks), as well as CPU usage.

However, more comprehensive features like advanced alerts, dynamic baselines, correlation and detailed application metrics and availability, which ultimately help enable a more proactive and effective method of managing infrastructure and applications, will be missing from these reports.

At the end of the day, it's important to remember that administrators should not be spending more time configuring their command-line scripts or monitoring tools than they spend taking advantage of the data. Whether an administrator is monitoring Windows, or something more specialized like Linux or MySQL, an IT department will always be stuck on the reactive (troubleshooting) mode without better visibility into the health and performance of its systems and the ability to get early warnings.

By establishing monitoring as a core IT function deserving of a strategic approach, businesses can benefit from a more proactive, early-action IT management style, while also streamlining infrastructure performance, cost and security.

To create a more thoughtful, comprehensive monitoring strategy that incorporates those hard to reach places, here are several best practices IT departments should consider:

  • Create an inventory of what is being monitored. The majority of IT departments have a broad set of monitoring tools for a number of different things. Are there applications in the cloud that are monitored by one tool? Are workloads being hosted in a different data center that leverage a separate tool? Before standardizing monitoring process, organizations should create an inventory of everything they are currently monitoring and the tools being used to do so.
  • Implement a set of standards across all systems. This should be done for every workload independent of which tool is being using, and especially if an IT department is running several different tools. At the end of the day, it's impossible to optimize what isn't being measured, so it's in every IT department's bet interest to create a standard set of monitoring processes, similar to creating runbooks. What are the key metrics needed from each system? What are the situations for which alerts are needed, and how will they be acted on? Having answers to these types of questions will allow even an IT department with distributed workloads and applications to successfully monitor and ensure performance and availability. This approach also helps IT departments avoid having a "weakest link," where one team may have their own security protocol, their own network and their own firewalls that ultimately leave the organization open to security vulnerabilities.
  • Unify the view. IT departments should be have a comprehensive set of unified monitoring and management tools in order to ensure the performance of the entire application stack. Everything is important to monitor, even these hard-to-reach systems, and IT professionals should look to leverage tools that integrate monitoring for these non-standard Linux, Java, Oracle and MySQL instances within a Windows environment into a single dashboard in order to cultivate a holistic view of their infrastructure.
  • Remember that monitoring should be a discipline. Traditionally, monitoring in the data center - even for more standard, Windows-based applications - has been somewhat of an afterthought. For most organizations, it's been a "a necessary evil," a resource that the IT department can leverage when there's a problem that needs solving, and often a job that's done with just a free tool, either open source or software pre-loaded by the hardware vendor. However, the concept of monitoring as a discipline is designed to help IT professionals escape the short-term reactive nature of administration, often caused by ineffective, ad hoc practices, and become more proactive and strategic.

In sum, despite the perception of Linux, Java, Oracle and MySQL instances as being "hard-to-reach places," there are many ways in which administrators can receive data about the health and performance of systems running on these applications, from running manual command-line scripts to leveraging comprehensive tools that integrate these instances in a single dashboard.

However, as the data center continues to grow in complexity, and especially as hybrid IT increases, IT professionals should look to establish the practice of monitoring as a discipline. This approach and unified monitoring that aims to turn data points from various monitoring tools into more actionable insights by looking at all of them from a holistic vantage point, rather than each disparately, coupled with the other above best practices, will allow IT administrators to ultimately increase the overall effectiveness and efficiency of their data centers.

More Stories By Gerardo A Dada

Gerardo A Dada is Vice President of Product Marketing and Strategy for SolarWinds’ database and applications business globally. He is a technologist who has been at the center of the Web, mobile, social and cloud revolutions at companies like Rackspace, Microsoft, Motorola, Vignette and Bazaarvoice. He has been involved with database technologies from dBase to BTrieve to SQL Server and NoSQL and DBaaS in the cloud.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


Microservices Articles
When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it’s important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. “Fly two mistakes high” is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee A...
Lori MacVittie is a subject matter expert on emerging technology responsible for outbound evangelism across F5's entire product suite. MacVittie has extensive development and technical architecture experience in both high-tech and enterprise organizations, in addition to network and systems administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning technology editor at Network Computing Magazine where she evaluated and tested application-focused technologies including app secu...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Containers and Kubernetes allow for code portability across on-premise VMs, bare metal, or multiple cloud provider environments. Yet, despite this portability promise, developers may include configuration and application definitions that constrain or even eliminate application portability. In this session we'll describe best practices for "configuration as code" in a Kubernetes environment. We will demonstrate how a properly constructed containerized app can be deployed to both Amazon and Azure ...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
Using new techniques of information modeling, indexing, and processing, new cloud-based systems can support cloud-based workloads previously not possible for high-throughput insurance, banking, and case-based applications. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, John Newton, CTO, Founder and Chairman of Alfresco, described how to scale cloud-based content management repositories to store, manage, and retrieve billions of documents and related information with fast and linear scalability. He addresse...
The now mainstream platform changes stemming from the first Internet boom brought many changes but didn’t really change the basic relationship between servers and the applications running on them. In fact, that was sort of the point. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Gordon Haff, senior cloud strategy marketing and evangelism manager at Red Hat, will discuss how today’s workloads require a new model and a new platform for development and execution. The platform must handle a wide range of rec...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...