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.
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