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My Pingdom Kingdom

My Pingdom Kingdom

Pre-ramble

I started hearing about Pingdom maybe 2 years (or more ) ago from my favorite podcast Accidental Tech Podcast ad, host Marco Arment - creator of the Overcast podcast player and other pieces of tech (If you're an developer you might enjoy Under the Radar too). I respect his opinions and technical chops so I perked up when I heard him say that he relied on a monitoring product.

Monitoring product? Hey! That's what I'm into!

Fast Forward to today - I'm test running Pingdom for myself. I have a lot of SolarWinds products but what I don't have it a lot of external deployments; meaning almost all of my stuff sits in my network watching from within. Pingdom lets me watch from the outside live on the interwebz and is becoming one of my favorite weapons.

What's this thing do?

You like SolarWinds' Web Performance Monitor? Me too. Think of Pingdom as like a distant cousin resembling a bumble-bee (No no, its cool. Don't change those colors I like them) but let's dig in.

Dashboard

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  • Super simple - left-hand navigation with expandable menus help you focus, not bombard you with data.
  • Right-hand - quick dashboard showcasing the monitoring you're utilizing and hey! Even some pretty graphs! (We'll get to those pesky graphs later).
    • Also - actionable buttons right there to get you into creating monitors with speed. (See what I did there?)

Monitoring

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  • I'm not going to beleaguer you with excruciating details on defining each one of these - if you're reading this; you should go check these out, get in on that trial - I will try to point out the ones that I'm making the most out of.

Uptime

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Would you like to know read more?

  • By far - my most used trick in the hat.
  • I love the tags but I haven't figured out how I would marry my Custom Properties to them (just replicate them or use SAM tags or something else) so I'm holding off for now.
  • Here are some of mine - they fall neatly in a line with lots of data points at your fingertips

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  • You may have also noticed that drop down arrow on the right? Mmmhmm.
    • Editing for changes
    • Pausing is super cool when someone changes something - before ALL your metrics are jacked up; you can pause it!
    • Delete - pretty standard; its a thing.
    • View Reports! Your boss' favorite! (But for real, they're super sweet.)

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  • Let take a quick look at some of the things I REALLY love about the "Edit"
    • Test From - You can easily set where you want to watch from ALL OVER THE PLACE and it can make a difference
    • (Of course tags but I already talked about them)

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    • ALERTING - Less is more peeps but when you gotta - you gotta. This is great clean way to do so.

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      • And because I can hear you asking - what do those look like Jeremy?
        • Just imagine all the blurry area is a nice short un-obfuscated URL and not this thoroughly ridiculously securely generated one, ok?

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  • View Reports aka a Data Geek's Candyland.

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  • Now we're in the Reports area
  • Big pretty graph with selective filters all over the place to get at the data you want
  • Downtime & Uptime summary right upfront - cause you care about that right? (I do.)
  • Oh no. I see multiple tab's below but one of them has a feature I adore.
    • Uptime changes
    • Response time log
    • Test result log

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  • Root Cause Analysis
    • You can get right in the weeds, real quick.
    • Also - I love clicking buttons that tell me things. This is appealing to me.

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  • And if you're a maniac dedicated guy like me, sometimes you want to manipulate your testing data, maybe make some pretty charts in Excel - Go right ahead and pull down that data.
    • And make sure you're looking at less than 10,000 results before you do - why are you trying to look at all that data? Who are you?! (Oh, you're me apparently)

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Good Lord. This post has gotten ridiculous; and I'm only on Uptime. There's still Page Speed, Transaction, RUM (that consistently makes me think of Pirates) - in lieu of explaining what shenanigans I'm doing with those I want to touch on 2-3 more insanely awesome areas to me - worthy of your time; I think.

Sharing

  • Not social media; much better.

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  • Public status page - just what you think it is; and it rules. You can customize the skin a bit and emblazon it with your logo if you like. (I love public status pages)

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  • Email Reports (Your boss' second favorite thing...maybe)
    • There is some granularity with these but I'd like to see some integrated graphs get added; just my preference no problems here.

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  • Report Banners
    • Immediately stuck these in my NPM environment to test them out. I love them. I'd like to see more of them with more data display options for more integration.
    • Only Uptime and Response are available right now - but still REALLY really good.

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One last thing? Real quick, I promise.

Native Mobile Application

  • Oh yeah. They went there. I went there. Its awesome.
  • Almost identical interface with immediate access to your data.
  • Super Ultra Mega Bonus? PUSH NOTIFICATIONS. I've waxed philosophical (Feel free to read and comment about it over here) about how this is the future of ironing out the pain and confusion of alerting and notifications; yep. Pingdom does that.

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Ok I'm going to cut it off here. This has been a lot of fun.

I hope you found some valuable, interesting or just amusing info in this post and look forward to seeing how the rest of you wield Excalibur Pingdom!

4 Comments

I get it.  The world is becoming more application and location diversified, while at the same time it's increasing its exposure and vulnerabilities.  It only makes sense that more and different tools are required to observe it and report its condition.

Or does that really make sense?

I see more sense in the evolution of existing tools, rather than having to buy/learn/support more new ones.

I love what SW and Orion are already doing for me.  But shouldn't NPM be evolving to do what Pingdom can do without having to pay for Pingdom?  Shouldn't our single pane of glass monitor both internal AND cloud hardware and throughput and performance natively, leveraging Orion's underlying framework and NPM's power?

Even as NetPath was included with a new version of NPM, so should cloud monitoring and external monitoring solutions like Pingdom, Librato, Papertrail, and TraceView be included with NPM.  NetPath showed up for just the cost of a support contract and the time in which to upgrade NPM.  That's a great precedent.

Even as past missions exposed us to four new cloud monitoring solutions, so should those solutions become part of NPM.  And older, legacy parts of NPM might be deprecated, thus reducing SW's costs as they simplify NPM while increasing its complexity--AND VALUE--by making it the monitoring solution for local AND cloud solutions.

Level 14

Me-thinks you need a crystal ball.  (And to apply for a Product Manager role at SWI HQ!)

I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't be interested in working for SW.  And it wouldn't be truthful to imply I hadn't talked with them about opportunities in the past.

Sadly, I'm acclimated to northern Minnesota's climate, and SW's open positions have been located in Texas.  Telecommuting wasn't an option to which they were open.  I'd be a pretty good customer and product advocate, I think.

But SW probably wouldn't want me in the corporate office making suggestions like the one above, giving away products and improvements to customers which might otherwise generate income for the company as new products to sell.

Thanks for your kind thoughts!

Level 11

I agree and would love to see the Orion stack capabilities greatly expanded.  On one hand I understand the SaaS approach, everyone is doing it right?  More and more enterprises are offloading traditional applications such as monitoring tools to SaaS products.  But at least from what I've seen within my organization it's been more out of necessity, than just a "everyone is doing it type movement."  More and more SaaS products are filling gaps we have with existing tools.  The lack of true APM monitoring (ie: new relic, appdynamics, dynactrace) as well as the Pingdom capabilities as discussed are glaring holes in the current stack.  I also believe that the log and trap capabilities are long overdue for overhauls as well.