IT Infrastructure

Infrastructure Monitoring: How it Works, Best Practices & Use Cases 

IT Infrastructurе Monitoring: How it Works, Bеst Practicеs & Usе Casеs

In today’s digital world, businesses rely heavily on their IT infrastructure to operate effectively. Any downtime or performance issues can result in lost productivity, revenue, and brand reputation. This is where infrastructure monitoring comes in.

What Is Infrastructure Monitoring?  

Infrastructure monitoring plays a vital role in collecting and analyzing data from various components of a tech stack, including servers, virtual machines, containers, and databases. This data is then analyzed to provide insights into the health and performance of the infrastructure. The tools also provide alerts and notifications when issues are detected, enabling IT teams to take corrective action.  

By utilizing infrastructure monitoring practices, organizations can proactively identify and address issues that may impact users and mitigate risks of potential losses in terms of time and money.   

Modern software applications must be reliable and resilient to meet clients’ needs worldwide. Companies like Amazon are making an average of $14,900 every second in sales, therefore, even 30 seconds of downtime would have cost them thousands of dollars.  

For software to keep up with demand, infrastructure monitoring is crucial. It allows teams to collect operational and performance data from their systems to diagnose, fix, and improve them.   

Monitoring often includes physical servers, virtual machines, databases, network infrastructure, IoT devices and more. Full-featured monitoring systems can also alert you when something is wrong in your infrastructure.  

In this article, we’ll explain how infrastructure monitoring works, its primary use cases, typical challenges, use cases and best practices of infrastructure monitoring.  

Infrastructure Monitoring: What Should You Monitor?  

Infrastructure monitoring is essential for tracking the availability, performance, and resource utilization of backend components, including hosts and containers. By installing monitoring agents on hosts, engineers collect infrastructure metrics and send them to a monitoring platform for analysis. This allows organizations to ensure the availability and proper functioning of critical services for users.  

Identifying which parts of your infrastructure to monitor depends on factors such as SLA requirements, system location, and complexity. Google has its Four Golden Signals (latency, traffic, errors, and saturation), which can help your team narrow down important metrics (review the official Google Cloud Monitoring Documentation). AWS, Azure also provides its best practices for monitoring. 

Common System Monitoring Metrics Include

  • Sеrvеrs: Monitor sеrvеr CPU usagе, mеmory usagе, disk I/O, and nеtwork traffic.  
  • Nеtwork: Monitor nеtwork latеncy, packеt loss, bandwidth usagе, and throughput.  
  • Applications: Monitor application rеsponsе timе, еrror ratеs, and transaction volumеs. 
  • Databasеs: Monitor databasе pеrformancе, including quеry rеsponsе timе and transaction throughput.  
  • Sеcurity: Monitor sеcurity еvеnts, including failеd logins, unauthorizеd accеss attеmpts, and malwarе infеctions. 

This list of metrics for each system isn’t exhaustive. Rather, you should determine your business requirements and expectations for different parts of the infrastructure. These baselines will help you better understand what metrics should be monitored and establish guidelines for setting alerting thresholds. 

Use Cases of Infrastructure Monitoring

Operations teams, DevOps engineers and SREs (site reliability engineers) generally use infrastructure monitoring to:  

1. Troublеshoot pеrformancе issues    

Infrastructure monitoring is instrumental in preventing incidents from escalating into outages. By using an infrastructure monitoring tool, engineers can quickly identify failed or latency-affected hosts, containers, or other backend components during an incident. In the event of an outage, they can pinpoint the responsible hosts or containers, facilitating the resolution of support tickets and addressing customer-facing issues effectively.  

2. Optimize infrastructure use

Proactive cost reduction is another significant benefit of infrastructure monitoring. By analyzing the monitoring data, organizations can identify overprovisioned or underutilized servers and take necessary actions such as decommissioning them or consolidating workloads onto fewer hosts. Furthermore, infrastructure monitoring enables the redistribution of requests from underprovisioned hosts to overprovisioned ones, ensuring balanced utilization across the infrastructure.  

Learn from this case study how Gart helped with AWS Cost Optimization and CI/CD Automation for the Entertainment Software Platform.

3. Forecast backend requirements

Historical infrastructure metrics provide valuable insights for predicting future resource consumption. For example, if certain hosts were found to be underprovisioned during a recent product launch, organizations can leverage this information to allocate additional CPU and memory resources during similar events. By doing so, they reduce strain on critical systems, minimizing the risk of revenue-draining outages.  

4. Configuration assurancе tеsting 

One of the prominent use cases of infrastructure monitoring is enhancing the testing process. Small and mid-size businesses utilize infrastructure monitoring to ensure the stability of their applications during or after feature updates. By monitoring the infrastructure, they can proactively detect any issues that may arise and take corrective measures, ensuring that their applications remain robust and reliable. 

Ready to level up your Infrastructure Management? Contact us today and let our experienced team empower your organization with streamlined processes, automation, and continuous integration.

Infrastructure Monitoring Best Practices

Infrastructure monitoring best practices involve a combination of key strategies and techniques to ensure efficient and effective monitoring of your infrastructure. Here are some recommended practices to consider:  

1. Opt for automation

To enhance Mean Time to Resolution (MTTR), leverage from the best infrastructure monitoring tools that offer automation capabilities. By adopting AIOps for infrastructure monitoring, you can achieve comprehensive end-to-end observability across your entire stack, facilitating quicker issue detection and resolution.  

Tools for automation

3. Install the agent across your entire environment

Rather than installing the monitoring agent on specific applications and their supporting environments, it is advisable to deploy it across your entire production environment. This approach provides a more holistic view of your infrastructure’s health and performance, enabling you to make informed decisions based on comprehensive data.

Google Ops Agent Overview | AWS Systems Manager OpsCenter   

3. Set up and prioritize alerts

Given the potential for numerous alerts in an infrastructure monitoring system, it’s crucial to prioritize them effectively. As an SRE, focus on identifying and addressing the most critical alerts promptly, ensuring that essential issues are promptly resolved while minimizing distractions caused by less urgent notifications. 

Google Cloud Monitoring Alerting Policy | AWS Alerting Policy  

4. Create custom dashboards

Take advantage of the customization options available in infrastructure monitoring tools. Tools like Middleware offer the ability to create custom dashboards tailored to specific roles and requirements. By leveraging these capabilities, you can streamline your monitoring experience, presenting relevant information to different stakeholders in a clear and accessible manner. 

5. Test your tools

Before integrating new applications or tools for infrastructure monitoring, testing is vital. This practice ensures that the monitoring setup functions correctly and all components are working as expected. By performing test runs, you can identify and address any potential issues before they impact your live environment.  

6. Configure native integrations

If your infrastructure includes AWS resources, it is beneficial to configure native integrations with your infrastructure monitoring solution. For example, setting up the AWS EC2 integration allows for the automatic import of tags and metadata associated with your instances. This integration facilitates data filtering, provides real-time views, and enables scalability in line with your cloud infrastructure. 

7. Activate integrations for comprehensive monitoring

Extend your infrastructure monitoring beyond CPU, memory, and storage utilization. Activate pre-configured integrations with services such as AWS CloudWatch, AWS Billing, AWS ELB, MySQL, NGINX, and more. These integrations enable monitoring of the services supporting your hosts and provide access to dedicated dashboards for each integrated service. 

8. Create filter set for efficient resource management

Utilize the filter set functionality offered by your monitoring solution to organize hosts, cluster roles, and other resources based on relevant criteria. By applying filters based on imported EC2 tags or custom tags, you can optimize resource monitoring, proactively detect and resolve issues, and gain a comprehensive overview of your infrastructure’s performance.  

9. Set up alert conditions based on filtered data

Instead of creating individual alert conditions for each host, leverage the filtering capabilities to create alert conditions based on filtered data. This approach automates the addition and removal of hosts from the alert conditions as they match the specified tags. By aligning alerts with your infrastructure’s tags, you ensure scalability and efficient alert management.  

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, infrastructure monitoring is critical for ensuring the performance and availability of IT infrastructure. By following best practices and partnering with a trusted provider like Gart, organizations can detect issues proactively, optimize performance and be sure the IT infrastructure is 99,9% available, robust, and meets your current and future business needs. Leverage external expertise and unlock the full potential of your IT infrastructure through IT infrastructure outsourcing!

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What is infrastructure monitoring, and why is it important?

Infrastructure monitoring is the process of observing and managing the components of an organization's IT infrastructure to ensure optimal performance, availability, and reliability. It is crucial for preventing downtime, identifying issues early, and maintaining a seamless operation of IT services.

How does infrastructure monitoring work?

Infrastructure monitoring involves deploying monitoring tools that continuously collect and analyze data from servers, networks, applications, and other components. These tools use various metrics and indicators to assess the health and performance of the infrastructure, providing real-time insights and alerts.

What are the key components of infrastructure monitoring?

Infrastructure monitoring typically includes monitoring servers, networks, databases, applications, and cloud services. This can involve tracking metrics such as CPU usage, memory, disk space, network latency, and application response times.

What are the best practices for implementing infrastructure monitoring?

Define clear objectives: Identify specific goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with the organization's overall objectives. Choose the right tools: Select monitoring tools that meet the organization's needs, considering factors like scalability, ease of use, and integration capabilities. Set up alerts: Establish alert thresholds to receive notifications when performance metrics deviate from normal levels. Regularly review and update: Regularly assess and update monitoring configurations to adapt to changing infrastructure and business requirements.

Can infrastructure monitoring be applied to cloud environments?

Yes, infrastructure monitoring is applicable to both on-premises and cloud environments. Cloud-based monitoring tools provide insights into the performance of virtual machines, storage, and other cloud services.
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