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Finding the Problem in Your Application Stack

Level 11

When a mission-critical application experiences an outage or severe performance degradation, the pressure on the agency and its information technology (IT) contractors to find and fix the problem quickly can be immense. Narrowing down the root cause of the problem wherever it exists within the application stack (appstack) and enabling the appropriate IT specialists to quickly address the underlying problem is essential.

This post outlines how taking a holistic view of the appstack and optimizing visibility into the entire IT environment—applications, storage, virtual machines, databases and more—is the key to maintaining healthy applications, and how the right monitoring tools can quickly identify and tackle the problems before they become serious performance and security threats.

Know the impact

Your IT infrastructure is made up of a complex web of servers, networks and databases, among other things; and troubleshooting can be tricky. But an end user with a problem only knows that he or she can’t accomplish his or her task.

Take a holistic view of monitoring

Using individual monitoring tools for appstack issues is inefficient. Wouldn’t it be more effective if you already had a narrowed-down area in which to look for a problem?

Holistic monitoring prevents the “where’s the problem?” issue by keeping an eye on the entire appstack, pulling information from each individual monitoring tool for a high-level view of your systems’ health. High-level monitoring tools can be checked quickly and efficiently without diving into individual tools, and they tie together data from in-depth tools to reach conclusions and identify problems across multiple areas.

With a tool that provides broad, high-level visibility of the status of all layers of the appstack, IT professionals can quickly get an interdisciplinary look at different aspects of the infrastructure and how configurations or performance of various components have recently changed.

Extend the view to security

Another advantage of holistic application monitoring is that it gives visibility into both performance and security. A good holistic monitoring tool talks to all your different firewalls, intrusion detection systems and security-focused monitoring tools. It collects log data and correlates and analyzes it to give you visibility into performance and security issues as they’re happening.

Prioritize monitoring for maximum security

1. Understand what you’re trying to secure. The starting point in every system prioritization is to choose an end goal. What aspect of your appstack is the most important to secure?

Come up with a prioritized list and find out how each priority area is being secured, the technologies being used and the existing monitoring.

2. Use best practices for monitoring policies. Tools need to be checked regularly. Monitoring tools are only as good as their results, and performance and security issues could be slipping past you.

Be sure to set up alerts in each monitoring tool as well as running a holistic monitoring tool. This ensures that your IT pros are immediately made aware of issues with individual components of your appstack in addition to the overall insights offered by the holistic tool.

3. Don’t sacrifice your deep-dive specialized tools. Keep in mind that holistic monitoring doesn’t eliminate the need for your existing, individual monitoring tools. It’s good to have a holistic tool with overall visibility, but you’ll also need the more in-depth tools for deeper dives when identifying problem areas.

Find the full article on Signal.

11 Comments
MVP
MVP

Good stuff.

Be sure you have a small tool monitoring your monitoring environment.

You have to have something outside looking in.

It also helps if you are not in the same VM frame as what you are monitoring otherwise you may have a skewed view of what you see.

Level 14

Good write up.  There are specialty monitoring tools that you may still need, but a central, holistic view is very valuable.

This would be worth it to the Thwack community to expand with more details and examples.  You're going down a very useful path here.

MVP
MVP

I like that point #1, when I'm helping people set up new Solarwinds environments I sometimes run into people who have had some word come down from above that they were going to invest in monitoring tools, so the buy a bunch of modules.  They haven't really sat down to discuss their goals and tried to determine if there are any measurable benchmarks of whatever they are hoping to improve and haven't made any plans for how they will integrate the tools into their existing work flow. 

Makes it a lot harder to help them optimize if they haven't really decided what they hope to be able to do in the end.

Level 11

Relevant information is important to identifying problems.  Being able to retrieve more specific information with the right tools is better than generic information with little benefit.  Good article.

Level 12

yes information about find problem is a great. so that persons can find right answer for it.

Level 15

I like

Prioritize monitoring for maximum security

Prioritize monitoring for maximum security

   That should come with a disclaimer. Monitoring should not be intended to replace a sound and comprehensive security threat and prevention framework. Instead, monitoring should be used as a critical part of the entire security program.

Level 17

Awesome write up!

I like the 3rd point, having those in depth tools is where IT's at!

ttm3header.jpg

Okayyyyy Beck!   🙂

Level 20

I'm 100% sold on SW appstack now.