Cloud Native Ecosystem / Observability / Sponsored / Contributed

Seven Steps to Effective Cloud Native Infrastructure Monitoring

19 Jan 2022 9:35am, by

Digital enterprises continue to transform and evolve their IT infrastructure to increase alignment with business objectives. Digital service outages can be detrimental to sales, revenue, and company reputation, so teams are under pressure to maximize resilience and uptime across the stack. More than ever before, organizations need comprehensive infrastructure monitoring capabilities to maintain visibility and help their engineers identify and resolve issues ideally before their end users are impacted.

The Evolution of Infrastructure Monitoring

Dr. Peter Putz
Peter is a technology strategist at Dynatrace. He has over 15 years of experience in leading international software project teams of scientists and engineers and managing the full lifecycle of complex, innovative IT solutions. Prior to joining Dynatrace, he was a senior scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center.

Infrastructure monitoring is the process of collating and analyzing metrics, traces, logs and other telemetry data from all components of an IT environment to provide actionable insights into availability and performance. As the complexity and dynamic nature of cloud environments has increased, however, it has become more challenging to implement effective monitoring capabilities.

In multicloud environments, for example, each platform comes with a native monitoring solution from the public cloud provider, which offers visibility only into its own infrastructure components. As a result, organizations have to cobble together a mix of tools, which creates complexity and hinders end-to-end visibility across the stack.

With the right technologies and configuration, infrastructure monitoring is a game-changer. It helps teams spot and analyze trends and flag potential issues before they undermine user experience or breach service-level agreements (SLAs). It can also support A/B testing, which helps teams to identify the optimum infrastructure setup for performance and user experience. Highly automated monitoring solutions help teams reduce wasteful manual processes, easily scale as their infrastructure grows and most importantly, focus on innovation rather than fixing bugs.

Here are seven best practice tips to help infrastructure teams set up and optimize a cloud native monitoring capability.

  1. Automate where possible: Using highly automated infrastructure monitoring solutions is key for large and dynamic environments. Manual configuration and instrumentation of monitoring capabilities is prohibitively labor-intensive. Teams find themselves unable to instrument parts of their infrastructure and struggling to keep monitoring agents up to date. Auto-deployment, auto-configuration and auto-baselining, on the other hand, enable organizations to widen the scope of the metrics they can capture, eliminate blind spots, and achieve end-to-end observability in cloud native infrastructure stacks. This leads to higher-quality monitoring capabilities and generates more precise, in-context insights. With enhanced data, teams can address issues faster, resulting in better customer experiences. Reducing human intervention frees up time for teams to focus on more productive tasks that accelerate transformation and modernization initiatives.
  2. Invest time in configuring alerts: It’s worth outlining which kinds of alerts teams need so they can identify issues as quickly as possible. Without a solid alert configuration, teams become overwhelmed in establishing the problem and identifying whether multiple alerts are related to the same issue. Alert specificity improves accuracy and reduces false positives. A well-planned alert mechanism can reduce response times and help teams solve root causes faster, improving uptime. For maximum effectiveness, auto-baselining capabilities can reduce the need for alert configuration significantly, with the ability to automatically eliminate false positives, perform automatic root-cause-analysis and prioritize alerts based on business impact.
  3. Create priority levels: Grouping alerts according to business impact helps teams focus their efforts on the most severe problems first. This approach takes the guesswork out of deciding how important a notification is, which saves teams time and stress. It’s also possible to direct alerts to different channels. A company, for example, could configure its IT service management (ITSM) system to send high-priority alerts via SMS to an on-call engineer’s smartphone and low-priority issues by email. For businesses with round-the-clock on-call engineers, prioritization reduces alert fatigue and team disruption in off-hours.
  4. Set up custom dashboards: Ensure the right people have access to the monitoring data they need by creating role-specific dashboards. Different teams within an organization may need to view infrastructure monitoring reports for varying purposes. For example, ITOps engineers are likely to have different key performance indicators (KPIs) from the IT security team, the marketing department, and business executives. Identify which insights stakeholders find most valuable and which are unnecessary for their role. Set up custom dashboards for each group that display only relevant data. (However, it is key that the underlying data for all the dashboards is coherent and based on the same data model.)
  5. Test the system: Most businesses would never launch a system or deploy a major change without thoroughly testing it. Infrastructure monitoring is no exception. Identify the most likely scenarios and design a testing framework to ensure that infrastructure monitoring solutions perform as expected. The safest way to do so is within a designated testing environment to prevent production — and customers — from being affected. Teams can then fine-tune the setup and alert configuration to make sure everything works as expected.
  6. Routinely check metrics and KPIs: Objectives and goals continually evolve, so it’s essential to regularly review metrics to ensure infrastructure monitoring solutions generate the data and insights that every stakeholder needs. It is also beneficial to evaluate KPIs and work with teams to identify new benchmarks to establish in the future. As an organization moves further along its digital transformation journey, new infrastructure blind spots will emerge. Regular metric reviews can avoid unintentional oversight and ensure that full visibility is maintained throughout the infrastructure stack.
  7. Leverage vendor know-how and resources: Organizations that struggle to refine their monitoring setup or lack internal know-how or experience can enlist a vendor for support. Vendor experts will have expertise in industry best practices and be familiar with issues a team is grappling with. Tapping into vendor expertise can help a team reach its monitoring goals faster while also enhancing in-house skills.

A Scalable Approach to Infrastructure Monitoring

As organizations continue their transition to modern multicloud environments, maximizing uptime and resilience is more critical than ever to ensure business continuity and customer satisfaction. Putting the right monitoring solutions in place to meet explicit strategic goals for infrastructure performance can give teams the ability to maximize success. For many, the most effective approach is to implement a unified platform that can offer observability into all their cloud environments in one place. This helps teams to collaborate more effectively and make the best use of their time. By incorporating AIOps-driven automation alongside these capabilities, organizations can design a scalable framework for infrastructure monitoring that will grow in line with the business, creating more space for innovation and further transformation.

Featured image via Pixabay.