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Server monitoring is Critical for your Business

Every day you get up and go to work in the IT department, confident you are ready for anything and everything. As a systems or server administrator you know how important it is that you continually monitor the servers that you and the business rely on every day. These servers support the mission critical applications that are the engine of the business and if they fail it isn’t going to be a good day for you. For now though let’s set aside the applications and focus on what you need to be watching to avoid this unpleasant outcome.

The first thing you need to be sure of is that the monitoring system you are going to use is a cloud based system and allows you to both monitor and admin from where ever you are, whether it be in the office or sitting on your couch on a Saturday afternoon. Next, let’s address the obvious and make sure that it has native agents for your OS. Now that the fundamentals are taken care of let’s delve into the main areas you need to be attending to. The following is the trilogy that must be focused on.
  1. CPU Monitoring – The CPU is the brains of your server hardware and you need to be sure that you are not over taxing the brain. A CPU that is being pressed to 100% for hours, or in some cases even just minutes, it will not be able to address other service requests – even if they are urgent and mission critical. Once you have your monitoring set up for keeping an eye on the CPU you should establish the optimal thresholds you want the CPU to be staying at or under. When you see your CPU being taxed in excess of 75% you will need to determine why and take the appropriate action to get the usage lowered. This may mean upgrading the CPU (not easy or even always possible), shutting down some non essential services that are gobbling up too much of the CPU or you may need to add more CPU (or migrate to a more powerful server).

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  2. RAM Monitoring – RAM is a kind of data storage and can be used by certain applications to increase the speed of response and thus improving performance. Hard disks are slower than RAM, which is flash based, because hard disks rely on moving components. But if a server runs out of RAM it will consume a portion of the hard drive as a kind of virtual memory location and is reserved for the CPU only. While this process, swapping, is effective in the immediate in that it keeps things running, it is not something that should be tolerated. If this is occurring then you will start seeing performance degradation due to the slowness of the hard drive plus you will experience file system fragmentation and this will further degrade server performance. The best, quickest and cheapest answer is to simply add RAM and get your server back to optimal performance.

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  3. Disk Monitoring - The hard disk is where the serve will be storing the vast amounts of data. The data deposited and stored there is permanent until the used deliberately deletes it. The reason it is critical to monitor the status of the hard disk is that since it stores the permanent data and is used as well by the application to cache temporary data it must always have sufficient space. If the hard disk becomes too full then system performance will degrade due to file system fragmentation.

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The health of your servers is critical so the efficiency and detail of your monitoring system regarding them is just as critical. The trilogy discussed above is the core “must” have components your server monitoring must do. In addition, you will want to find a monitoring supplier that also monitors; processes, services and can keep visibility over your SNMP devices, bandwidth and disk I/O. You can find a good example of a monitoring system that does all of this here.