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Tag Archive automation

Sample SAT question: xUnit is to Continuous Integration as what is to automated server deployments?

We’ve been going through lots of growth here at LogicMonitor. Part of growth means firing up new servers to deal with more customers, but we also have been adding a variety of new services: proxies that allow our customers to route around Internet issues that BGP doesn’t catch; servers that test performance and reachability of customers sites from various locations, and so on.  All of which means spinning up new servers: sometimes lots of times, in QA, staging and development environments.

As old hands in running datacenter operations, we have long adhered to the tenet of not trusting people – including ourselves. People make mistakes, and can’t remember things they did to make things work. So all our servers and applications are deployed by automated tools. We happen to use Puppet, but collectively we’ve worked with cfengine, chef, and even Rightscripts.

So, for us to bring up a new server – no problem. It’s scripted, repeatable, takes no time. But how about splitting the functions of what was one server into several? And how do we know that the servers being deployed are set up correctly, if there are changes and updates? Read more »

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Automation of Datacenter Monitoring

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Denise Dubie wrote a recent piece in CIO magazine about “5 Must-have IT Management Technologies for 2010“, in which she identifies one of the must-haves as IT process automation. She quotes Jim Frey, research director at EMA: “On the monitoring side, automation will be able to keep up with the pace of virtual environments and recognize when changes happen in ways a human operator simply could not.”

At LogicMonitor we couldn’t agree more. It’s true that, as the article implies, virtualization and cloud computing make the need for monitoring automation more acute than previously (which is why customers use LogicMonitor to automatically detect new hosts and newly created monitor Amazon EC2 instances – having dynamic system scaling without the ability to automatically monitor the dynamic systems is just asking for undetected service affecting issues.)

However, even in traditional non-virtualized datacenters (and despite the buzz, most datacenters and services are still built on physical machines), there is often so much change going on with systems and applications that non-automated monitoring has virtually no chance of keeping up with the additions and deletions. A typical example of an automated change report of one LogicMonitor customer from last night shows:

  • two interfaces on two different switches added to monitoring as they became active, and one removed as it was shutdown
  • discovery of the Resin application newly running on 3 servers (along with discovery of all the ports, webApps,  java monitoring, etc for each Resin server), and the removal of Resin from one server
  • 5 different virtual IP’s added to 2 different load balancers, automatically added to monitoring
  • the addition of a new class of custom application metrics exposed by JMX

And that was just one day’s changes.  Imagine the staff costs involved with tracking and implementing all these changes, every day, in a manual fashion, that are avoided by the use of automated datacenter monitoring.

And more significantly, imagine the likelihood that one of more of these changes would NOT have made it into monitoring manually – so that when a production service has issues, there is no monitoring to detect it.

Having your customers be the first to know about issues is not a situation anyone wants to be in – and monitoring automation is the only way to avoid that.  That’s one area that LogicMonitor’s datacenter monitoring excels at.

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