Massive changes are happening around the way IT services are consumed and delivered. Cloud-based infrastructure is being tied together and instrumented by DevOps processes, while microservices-driven apps are replacing monolithic architectures.
This evolution is driving the need for greater monitoring and better analysis of data than we have ever seen before. This need is compounded by the fact that an application today may be instrumented with the help of sensors and devices providing users with critical input in making decisions.
Why is there a need for monitoring and analysis?
The placement of sensors on practically every available surface in the material world – from machines to humans – is a reality today. Almost anything that is capable of giving off a measurable metric or recorded event can be instrumented, in the virtual world as well as the physical world, and has the need for monitoring. Metrics involve the consistent measurement of characteristics, such as CPU usage, while events are something that is triggered, such as temperature reaching above a threshold. The right instrumentation, observation and analytics are required to create business insight from the myriad of data points coming from these instruments.
In the virtual world, monitoring and controlling software components that drive business processes is critical. Data monitoring in software is an important aspect of visualizing what systems are doing – what activities are happening, and precisely when – and how well the applications and services are performing.
There is, of course, a business justification for all this monitoring of constant streams of metrics and events data. Companies want to become more data-driven, they want to apply data insights to be better situationally aware of business opportunities and threats. A data-driven organization is able to predict outcomes more effectively than relying on historical information, or on gut instinct. When vast amounts of data points are monitored and analyzed, the organization can find interesting “business moments” in the data. These insights help identify emerging opportunities and competitive advantages.
How to develop a Data monitoring strategy
Establishing an overall IT monitoring strategy that works for everyone across the board is nearly impossible. But it is possible to develop a monitoring strategy which is uniquely tailored to specific IT and business needs. At a high level, organizations can start developing their Data monitoring strategy by asking these five fundamental questions:
#1 Have we considered all stakeholder needs?
One of the more common mistakes DevOps teams make is focusing the monitoring strategies on the needs of just a few stakeholders and not addressing the requirements of stakeholders outside of IT operations, such as line of business (LOB) owners, application developers and owners, and other subgroups within operations, such as network operations (NOC) or communications teams. For example, an app developer may need usage statistics around application performance while the network operator might be interested in network bandwidth usage by that app’s users.
#2 Will the data capture strategy meet future needs?
Organizations, of course, must key on the data capture needs of today at the enterprise level, but at the same time, must consider the future. Developing a long-term plan helps in future-proofing the overall strategy since data formats and data exchange protocols always evolve. The strategy should also consider future needs around ingestion and query volumes. Planning for how much data will be generated, stored and archived will help establish a better long-term plan.
#3 Will the data analytics satisfy my organization’s evolving needs?
Data analysis needs always change over time. Stakeholders will ask for different types of analysis and planning ahead for those needs, and opting for a flexible data analysis strategy will help ensure that the solution is able to support future needs.
#4 Is the presentation layer modular and embeddable?
A flexible user interface that addresses the needs of all stakeholders is important for meeting the organization’s overarching goals. Solutions which deliver configurable dashboards that enable users to specify queries for custom dashboards meet this need for flexibility. Organizations should consider a plug-and-play model which allows users to choose different presentation layers as needed.
#5 Does architecture enable smart actions?
The ability to detect anomalies and trigger specific actions is a critical part of a monitoring strategy. A flexible and extensible model should be used to meet the notification preferences of diverse user groups. Organizations should consider self-learning models which can be trained to detect undefined anomalies from the collected data. Monitoring solutions which address the broader monitoring needs of the entire enterprise are preferred.
What are purpose-built monitoring platforms
Devising an overall IT monitoring strategy that meets these needs and fundamental technology requirements is a tall order. But new purpose-built monitoring platforms have been created to deal with today’s new requirements for monitoring and analyzing these specific metrics and events workloads – often called time-series data – and provide situational awareness to the business.
- support ingesting millions of data points per second,
- can scale both horizontally and vertically,
- are designed from the ground up to support real-time monitoring and decision making, and
- have strong machine learning and anomaly detection functions to aid in discovering interesting business moments.
In addition, they are resource-aware, applying compression and down-sampling functions to aid in optimal resource utilization, and are built to support faster time to market with minimal dependencies.
With the right strategy in mind, and tools in place, organizations can address the evolving monitoring needs of the entire organization.
About the Author
Mark Herring is the CMO of InfluxData. He is a passionate marketeer with a proven track record of generating leads, building pipeline, and building vibrant developer and open source communities. Data-driven marketeer with proven ability to define the forest from the trees, improve performance, and deliver on strategic imperatives.
Prior to InfluxData, Herring was vice president of corporate marketing and developer marketing at Hortonworks where he grew the developer community by over 40x. Herring brings over 20 years of relevant marketing experience from his roles at Software AG, Sun, Oracle, and Forte Software.