Data Centers

How to monitor data center servers from the cloud with CloudStats

Monitoring your data center servers doesn't have to be a chore. Here's how to make use of a cloud-based solution for a single point of entry for server monitoring.

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Image: Jack Wallen

If you are responsible for a data center, you know how important it is to be able to keep tabs on the servers that empower your company. In some instances, it's pretty simple to monitor your servers, especially if you're on site all day. But what about those situations where on-site monitoring isn't possible? What do you do then? One option is to look to the cloud and a relatively new service called CloudStats. This server monitoring solutions enables you to add as many servers as you like (at a cost), to give you an easy to use dashboard where you can:

  • Monitor your servers
  • Monitor your network
  • Monitor individual processes
  • Run service status checks
  • Run external checks
  • Backup your servers
  • Get server up/down alerts
  • Integrate your monitoring with Slack
  • Integrate into your systems with CloudStack's API

There are two packages to sign up for (more on this in a bit):

  • Free - 24 hour data retention, server up/down alerts, Skype/Slack/email notifications, single user account
  • Enterprise - 30 days data retention, custom process monitoring, configurable alerts, remote server console, user roles & permissions, Skype/Slack/email, Push notifications, cost is $5 per server monitor/month

It should be worth noting, the above information was taken directly from the CloudStats site, but it is a bit deceiving. After setting up a free account, you will quickly come to find the free account really only allows you to monitor your server. In order to gain access to alerts and other features, you have to pony up for what they call the Premium account, which is:

  • $5 per month/per server
  • $1 per IP address monitor
  • $1 per URL monitor

The free account also does not include the backup feature listing in the pricing plans. In effect, the free account gives you little more than a glance at your servers/services and what CloudStats offers (should you pay up for a Premium account). It should also be noted that the free account does include email alerts for server up/down. You cannot customize these alerts or integrate with Slack or Skype.

That being said, CloudStats works with both Linux and Windows servers. I am going to walk you through the process of connecting a Ubuntu 16.04 server. It's quite simple and takes very little time.

Signing up

The first thing you must do is sign up for an account. I'd recommend signing up for the free account, to make sure this is a service that meets your needs. You can also sign up for a seven day free trial for the Premium account. The signup page is a bit hard to find, so use this link and then fill in the necessary information. Once you've done that, click on the ADD NEW SERVER button (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

Adding a new server is but a click away.

Adding your server

You'll need to be logged into your server to add it to your CloudStats account. Do that and then return back to the browser where, in the next window (Figure B), you must select the platform running the server (Linux or Windows).

Figure B

Figure B

Select your server platform.

The resulting window will give you a command that will be used to connect your server to the newly created account. Copy that command and then paste it into a terminal window on your server. You'll be prompted for your sudo password and then the command will run. Once the command lands on Done publishing (Figure C), go back to the web browser and click Finish.

Figure C

The command running on our server.

Once you've clicked Finish, you'll be taken back to your CloudStats account, where your server will appear on the dashboard and you can start the process of adding service monitors (you can add monitors for HTTP, database, FTP, SSH, NFS, DNS, and mail), and checking the various status of your server. Should you find the need to set up alerts, backups, etc., you will have to pay up for the Premium account.

Worth a look

Even though the free account is limited in what it can do, CloudStats is definitely worth a look. If you've been searching for a cloud-based monitoring service that makes it simple to add your servers, set up alerts, and more, you'd be hard-pressed to find an easier solution.

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About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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