This is the first in a series of interviews with SolarWinds MVPs and MSPs and partners who use SolarWinds technology.
Yesterday I had a very interesting phone chat with one of our MSP customers, Byron Anderson of EasyStreet. EasyStreet uses a variety of SolarWinds products from Network Performance Monitor, Engineers Toolset, NCM & IPAM to Server & Application Monitor and now Log & Event Manager.
EasyStreet has three primary service areas where SolarWinds tools are leveraged:
• Co-Location Service where customers can place their servers and EasyStreet provides facilities services like cooling and power.
• Cloud Services to include a multi-tenant private cloud and assistance/consultation for customers who are moving to a private cloud.
• Integrated Services includes integrated monitoring services across public and private cloud environments. Connectivity between remote offices is also provided with this service.
JK: What kinds of customers are using your cloud services?
BA: We have seen all sorts of industries moving to the cloud. We have seen a lot of healthcare customers with HIPPA compliance requirements recently. We had to build those in a very unique way.
JK: What kind of monitoring do you provide with your cloud services?
BA: With our private cloud hosting services, if we manage a system for a customer, we monitor the server performance and provide customers the same level of visibility we see so they understand how those systems are performing.
Since our services are so personalized to each customer, we sometimes provide unique monitoring for customers who need that level of service – like for custom applications.
As part of our cloud readiness service - for customers moving from a physical environment to a virtual environment – we attach our monitoring system to their physical environment for a month to look at performance trends, like where their high I/O is, so we can determine how to best configure those applications in a virtual environment. We can really personalize the migration, specific to the customer’s unique application. This is better than building something generic, and hope that it works.
We have had customers move from physical environments to virtual environments and have seen some performance issues. Because the monitoring tools (SAM and NPM) are so comprehensive, we can understand performance trends over time, and tune the application, and the virtual environment to improve the performance. If we don’t have the expertise in a particular application, we bring in a performance expert – like a database expert or a VMware expert.
JK: How does the SolarWinds tool set help you customize visibility for each customer?
BA: We can provide a single pane of glass for our customers whether it is just for the servers we are managing, or for their remote offices, private cloud, public cloud – we can connect anything into the SolarWinds monitoring tool. What this provides is a level of personalized visibility, across the customer’s environment, regardless of location and who is managing it. Giving customers the facts – they get the up-close to understanding of the level of service you are providing and how their infrastructure is performing.
For example, I have been working with a client on a series of dashboards, like a mini-NOC, using all the data we collect anyway, just presenting the data in a view that they want. We can work with our customers in that sort of way to build that personalization.
JK: How long does it take to customize these dashboards and reports for your customers?
BA: It depends on the complexity of the customer. Generally just a couple of hours worth of work. To add even more customization for our clients, we are rolling out a premium service with a specific instance of SolarWinds Orion.
JK: What are the most used reports that you provide to your customers?
BA: Uptime is always of big interest, basic utilization (cpu, memory, disk, interface utilization because of bandwidth) and then application performance. We have many customers who have custom applications that they have created. Like the customer I mentioned previously, they had custom applications and wanted to see all the applications, and the databases supporting these applications – to get a quick view of how the service is performing as a whole.
JK: Do you provide Facilities Monitoring for your co-location service?
BA: Our new data center is newer and more cutting edge when it comes to energy efficiency. One of the things we have done is use the scripting capabilities in Server & Application Monitor to obtain data for monitoring our datacenter. We have connected Orion to our building environmental systems. We can pull temperature, on a per cabinet level to see if the exhaust temperature is exceeding thresholds. We can monitor humidity for alerting so our enterprise operations center can see if there is an issue. And now we can see power consumption – especially important because we can see if they are nearing capacity and we can provision more power. If they use too much, they can start popping circuits in their cabinet.
JK: Do you monitor temperature of servers themselves?
BA: Yes, we also monitor server temperature, which is provided by the product (SAM) out-of-the box. Before it was available in the product, we used scripting in Server & Application Monitor to monitor server temperature.
If we start seeing temperatures rise, we can see what area of the datacenter to start focusing our resources. If it is a group of servers, you know it is an environmental issue; if just one cabinet, then there is likely an issue with one customer’s system.
JK: Is remote monitoring important?
BA: Our staff is local to our datacenter and the other building is just across the street. However, we do remote monitoring for one large customer who has a statewide network made up of many service providers. We provide monitoring (like an independent assessment) to point out when there are issues with link quality, so the customer can avoid finger-pointing with the different carriers.
To find out how to customize your Server & Application environment, watch the Secrets of SAM webcast replay.