Applications are the primary reason that computer networks exist, as IT professionals are often reminded of on a daily basis, especially when things go wrong. However, dealing with balky applications is not normally an easy task, particularly when the problem is related to performance and drastically impacts the end-user.
Monitoring applications to detect and respond to problems - before an end-user is even aware that a problem exists - is becoming a must have capability for the seasoned IT pro. Nowhere is this truer than in a revenue-generating production environment, where time is essentially money.
Traditionally, IT has focused on monitoring server CPU utilization, memory allocation and storage performance to judge how well applications are performing. In the past, that validation methodology was acceptable, considering that most organizations only ran one or two line of business applications.
However, as application and user count grows, taking a generic approach to monitoring is no longer suitable. Today’s applications and the supporting infrastructure are far more complex, creating a situation where older tried and true methods are no longer able to give IT Pros adequate insight into what is happening with a given application.
Since there are many parts to modern application server environments, IT is finding that understanding which metrics to monitor for each of those pieces has become the key to determining the status of an application. Ideally, monitoring those elements and correlating the results based upon both historical and real time data allows IT Pros to effectively anticipate production problems, instead of being overwhelmed by them.
Yet, several questions remain – such as “how can I identify those metrics?” and “What tools should be I deploy” and, most importantly, “How do I get started”. Those questions and several others prove valid for those IT Pros looking to ramp up their ability to proactively monitor applications and solve problems before they impact operations.
Luckily, many software vendors have done all of the heavy lifting and have created tools and suites of products that make the nuts and bolts process of monitoring applications a bit easier. However, that has shifted the burden back to IT, who has to find which tool set is the best fit for their particular application load and infrastructure, and that takes understanding the whys and hows of application monitoring.
Frank J. OhlhorstFrank J. Ohlhorst is an award-winning technology journalist, professional speaker and IT business consultant with more than 25 years of experience in the technology market. He has written articles for a variety of technology and business publications, and he worked previously as executive technology editor at eWeek and director of the CRN Test Center.
See here for all of Frank's Tom's IT Pro articles.
(Shutterstock cover image credit: Business Woman Monitoring Network)