DevOps Glossary

Server Monitoring

What is Server Monitoring?

In the past, implementing new servers meant that IT organizations had to invest heavily in data centers, hardware and the development of additional technical support and management capabilities. In today's increasingly cloud-focused enterprise computing ecosystem, IT organizations can access additional servers to satisfy a variety of functions with minimal overhead. Cloud service providers like Amazon Web Service (AWS), Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure provide Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) services on a pay-per-use basis, helping businesses to scale their networking, storage, servers and virtualization capabilities in the most cost-effective manner.

As organizations deploy more servers into the cloud, security can become a growing concern. Each additional network endpoint or cloud-deployed application represents a potential attack vector that a malicious actor could exploit to gain access to the network. Maintaining the performance and availability of servers, along with their security posture, can also play an important role in optimizing customer experience and minimizing unplanned downtime.

Because of these concerns, organizations that depend on servers that are deployed in the cloud must implement server monitor solutions that help maintain the security of cloud servers while tracking their performance and availability. Server monitoring can have different objectives and track different key performance indicators (KPIs) based on the type of server, but the primary objective of server monitoring is always to protect the server from possible failure that would interrupt service availability.

How Does Server Monitoring Work?

The exact workflow for server monitoring will change based on your chosen server monitoring software solution and the cloud-based server that you are trying to monitor. As your IT organization grows in size and number of deployments, you will need to select and configure a server monitoring tool that regularly collects data from every one of your cloud-based servers. The general process of server monitoring can be described in five steps:

  1. Identify the Most Important KPIs - Server monitoring begins with the identification of exactly what data you would like to track on each server. Your choices here depend on the functionality that the server is delivering for your organization. For an application server, you might decide that the critical KPIs are availability and responsiveness. For a web server, capacity and speed might be the most important. For a data storage server, you might be more concerned about latency, data throughput, and data loss.
  2. Set Baseline KPI Values - Once you have determined which KPIs are the most important, the next step is to measure the performance of each server on each KPI metric and determine an acceptable range of values for the KPI. This initial measurement will act as a baseline against which the future performance of the server will be measured.
  3. Configure Data Collection and Analysis - A server monitoring tool must be appropriately configured to pull data from the servers deployed in your cloud environment. Server monitoring tools track the activity on the server by streaming event logs, also called log files, that the server automatically generates. Log files contain information about errors, user activity and security events that happen on the server. In addition to log files, server monitoring tools track server operating system KPIs including CPU and memory availability, network connectivity and disk performance.
  4. Set up Comprehensive and Specific Alerts - Now that you have configured your data collection and aggregation, the next step is to build out an alert system that will send notifications to you and your team when there is a KPI breach and your chosen metrics drop below threshold levels.
  5. Get Ready to Respond - Finally, you'll need to outline policy and procedure for responding to alerts. Who is responsible for investigating security alerts? Finding solutions to operational issues? What kinds of alerts should warrant a response, and how urgent should the response be? These are all questions that need to be answered as you define how your organization will treat each type of event notification.

When these five steps are optimized, IT organizations can achieve a positive return-on-investment from their server monitoring solution by responding quickly to security and operational issues, maintaining compliance with internal and external standards, and reducing application downtime.

Server Monitoring Software Supports Many Types of Servers

A server is any computer or device on a network that manages access to network resources. Servers can perform a variety of different functions, from managing network traffic to storing files or delivering web pages. Some enterprise organizations operate as many as twenty or more servers in a hybrid cloud environment, all of which require continuous monitoring to ensure their ongoing operational efficiency and security. Today's leading server monitoring software tools can pull event logs for many types of servers, including:

Web Servers - A web server is configured to deliver web pages. Web servers have a unique IP address and domain name that corresponds to the website they host. Some of the most popular performance metrics and KPIs for web servers include:

  • Uptime
  • Time to first byte
  • Complete page load time
  • Search query response time
  • Bounce rate

Application Servers - IT organizations can identify operational efficiencies by tracking the health, performance, and load of applications that are deployed in the cloud. Commonly prioritized metrics for application server monitoring include resource usage, data throughput, the latency of responses, service failures and restarts, error rates and success rates and overall application availability.

Network Servers - A network server acts as a central hub, helping other machines in your network access additional computing resources like processing power, disk space or printers on an on-demand basis. Network servers can also be used to store files or run applications from a central location. The most common KPIs for network servers include:

  • Network connections status
  • Network connection speed
  • Number of connections on the network
  • Packet loss and data transmission errors
  • Latency or throughput
  • Bandwidth Utilization

Server Monitoring with Sumo Logic Drives Operational Excellence

Sumo Logic's server monitoring capabilities make it easy for enterprise IT organizations to measure and analyze traffic on servers deployed in cloud environments. Sumo Logic simplifies the process of configuring data aggregation from a variety of server types, identifying and analyzing the most important information and presenting it in an easily readable, pre-configured dashboard format. With Sumo Logic, IT organizations can streamline the server monitoring process and achieve better oversight, governance, and security of cloud-deployed assets.