All enterprises need an IT monitoring solution to check security, performance and customer experience. The data produced by monitoring is essential for operational support. Monitoring enables an administrator to use logic and reasoning to explain the cause and effect of the enterprise network, rather than using guesswork.
In recent years the rise of cloud-based monitoring companies like Monitis, CA Nimsoft Monitor and LogicMonitor has given customers many enterprise-scale rental choices. Big-name customers use cloud-based monitoring services.
How come? If monitoring is so crucial, why do some customers rent monitoring services off suppliers, rather than buy a traditional application to run in-house?
External checks are simple
Renting a cloud-based monitoring service frees up time. A monitoring application is crucial to operation, but it works behind the scenes. A monitoring application keeps an eye on the core business applications – the ones that provide the customer services. Administering a monitoring application takes time and effort that may be better applied to generating revenue.
Cloud-based monitoring is easy. If the cloud-based monitors are checking the Internet-exposed parts of services, such as websites or email ports, then setting up basic cloud-based monitoring is simple. The customer supplies a couple of public service names and addresses to the rental place, along with some contact details and alert thresholds. The monitoring service points its probes at the customer's public services, regularly collects data, builds a trend history, sends alerts, and generates reports.
A monitoring provider's service is easy to understand. The provider points usability experts at their web-based customer control panel and API, to make sure they work well for system administrators, business leaders, and program developers.
Internal checks are complicated
Checking an on-premise network may require more complex work. External services are the tip of the infrastructure iceberg. The most important view of public Internet services is how they perform from the Internet, but most monitoring data comes from the private network.
Something has to regularly delve into the network's internal parts and submit that data to the external cloud service. In effect, the remote cloud-based monitoring service is extended into the local network. Enterprise developers can write local scripts that call the remote API. Monitis provides an API and a library of scripts developed by their customers. LogicMonitor supplies local agents for administrators to install. LogicMonitor's collectors send data to LogicMonitor.com.
If a cloud-based service is part of a complex automatic system, it gets more complicated. If a crucial service goes down but it can be automatically restarted without ringing the on-call DBA, then the cloud-based system must be able to securely call the enterprise system.
If an enterprise is running their customer service in a cloud, then there is no on-premise data network to check. Cloud IaaS providers usually bundle some level of monitoring services in with their products. AWS's comprehensive monitoring service is called CloudWatch. You get the basics for free - AWS offers a few free infrastructure monitors, to keep an eye on the basics. The CloudWatch service can be used for auto-scaling and other more complex requirements.
The advantages of rental
If you only need monitoring from the customer's point of view – from the Internet – rent monitoring.
If you are monitoring a traditional on-premise network and are already coping with that operational support headache, buying a traditional monitoring application makes sense. You do add to your support headache, but at least you don't build in a dependency on a third-party service.
Even if you are monitoring an on-premise network, it still may be sensible to rent. Monitoring software is an overhead, not a money spinner. The cloud-based monitoring providers work very hard to get your business, by making comprehensive monitoring as painless as possible.
In the cloud land of free trials you can try before you buy. Spend some time with Monitis, LogicMonitor and CA Nimsoft. You can even successfully run a limited monitoring service for free, such as implementing reliability monitoring on the cheap with Cacti and Monitor.Us.
Nick Hardiman builds and maintains the infrastructure required to run Internet services. Nick deals with the lower layers of the Internet - the machines, networks, operating systems, and applications. Nick's job stops there, and he hands over to the designers and developers who build the top layer that customers use.