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Infrastructure Monitoring: Visibility Across Environments

Infrastructure monitoring enables you to track and manage cloud, on-premise, and hybrid infrastructure foundation, software, and interpretation components. You can implement infrastructure monitoring across vendors with agents or agentless solutions, depending on compatibility and requirements.  

The goal behind implementing infrastructure monitoring is to increase visibility and ensure availability, performance, and security. In this post, we explain how infrastructure monitoring works, which components you can monitor, and examines key best practices. We also show how NetApp Cloud Insights can help simplify infrastructure monitoring.

In this article, you will learn:

What Is Infrastructure Monitoring?

Infrastructure monitoring employs a set of solutions and practices to ensure availability, performance, and security in your technology stack. This stack includes virtualized environments, hardware, networks, storage resources, devices, applications, and operating systems. Depending on the architecture an organization uses, infrastructure components can be on-premises, in the cloud, or a combination of the two.

When implementing infrastructure monitoring IT teams need to account for all components in their infrastructure. Teams also need to ensure that data is collected uniformly and continuously. Without comprehensive data, teams cannot ensure complete visibility and are unable to efficiently respond to system issues.

How IT Infrastructure Monitoring Works

Infrastructure monitoring is based on three main components:

  • Foundations—these are the components that are monitored. The foundations contain physical or virtual devices and the lowest levels of the software stack.
  • Software—these are the components that perform monitoring. Software solutions are used to collect, aggregate, and analyze monitoring data. Solutions are also often used to manage alerts or respond to interpretations.
  • Interpretation—this is the output of your software solutions. Interpretations include reports on metrics, visualizations of performance, and detection of incidents. Typically, interpretations are presented on centralized dashboards that integrate data from across your software solutions.

You can implement infrastructure monitoring with agents or as an agentless solution. Agents are devices or software that collect and report data from the device or component the agent is attached to. Agentless solutions leverage existing communication channels and integrations to collect and report data.

In the smallest infrastructures, IT teams can manage infrastructure monitoring as a manual process. However, beyond the most basic environments, infrastructures become too complex to effectively monitor without automation. Automated solutions enable you to monitor environments continuously and respond to issues in real-time. Automated solutions can also help ensure that resources in dynamic infrastructures are not overlooked.

Which Components Should I Monitor?

As you begin implementing your infrastructure monitoring, you need to decide which components to monitor and prioritize. Any monitoring strategy you define should include the following components.

  • Hosts—tracks available resources for services and applications, including memory, disk, and CPU data. You can use host data to ensure that sufficient resources are available.
  • Web and application servers—tracks the availability of servers, traffic flow, and request latency. You can use this data to ensure services remain available and optimize performance.
  • Databases—tracks database operations, request/response patterns, and active connections. You can use database data to identify data breaches, ensure data fidelity, and optimize performance.
  • Containers—tracks runtimes, resource use, host location, and performance. You can use this data to ensure services remain available or to scale resources.
  • Networks—tracks traffic patterns, bandwidth consumption, and data access. You can use network data to identify bottlenecks, outages, and routing issues.
  • Load balancers—tracks how traffic is distributed across your resources. You can use this data to ensure that available resources match demand and to identify performance bottlenecks.

Cloud platforms

All of the above components are also relevant when using cloud services. However, your monitoring methods may differ and you may have limited access to cloud IT infrastructure resources. For many cloud platforms, including Google Cloud, AWS, and Azure, infrastructure is managed for you.

This management reduces your responsibility for maintenance and may reduce your need to monitor components. Despite this, it is still important to perform at least basic cloud monitoring . This can help you ensure that your configurations and resources are optimized and ensure the highest possible ROI.

Best Practices for Infrastructure Monitoring

Incorporating the following best practices into your infrastructure monitoring strategy can help you optimize your performance and resources.

Periodically Audit Your Systems

Periodic audits help you verify that data is collected correctly and that systems are operating as expected. Audits are especially important when you have automated responses in place. You need to ensure that the responses you have defined are happening and that responses are having the intended effect.

When you periodically audit your monitoring systems you can verify any changes that may have occurred since the last audit. This verification confirms that no components are overlooked and provides the opportunity to identify opportunities for improvement. Auditing is also an essential part of proving compliance, required for any organization handling or storing regulated data.

Track Metrics and Patterns Over Time

One of the most powerful benefits of monitoring is the ability to develop a baseline for your systems. This enables you to identify issues and suspicious activity more easily. It also enables you to predict system use more accurately and adjust your resources accordingly.

Using monitoring patterns to inform proactive measures can help you avoid issues from the start. This practice can also make managing resources and efficiently scaling your infrastructure much easier.

Monitor User Sessions

Depending on the complexity of your environments, user sessions may pass through hundreds of components. For example, if you use segmentation to increase security, users are authenticated multiple times in a single session.

To ensure your users experiences are good and productivity is not reduced, you need to monitor the flow of sessions. In particular, pay attention to the response times in your different services or gateways. If you have bottlenecks where many users are being delayed, you can identify these locations and implement load balancing to correct the issue.

Additionally, monitoring user sessions is essential to security monitoring. You should be able to track users throughout your systems to ensure that permissions are appropriately applied and to verify that users are not a threat.

One Source for All Monitoring Metrics

NetApp Cloud Insights is an infrastructure monitoring tool that gives you visibility into your complete infrastructure on one pane of glass. With Cloud Insights, you can monitor, troubleshoot and optimize all your resources including your public clouds and your private data centers.

Cloud Insights helps organizations reduce mean time to resolution by 90%, prevent 80% of cloud issues from impacting end users, and reduce cloud infrastructure costs by an average of 33%. It can even reduce your exposure to insider threats by identifying risks to sensitive data.

In particular, NetApp Cloud Insights helps you discover your entire hybrid infrastructure, from the public cloud to the data center, create dashboards and set up targeted and conditional alerts.New call-to-action