As an IT professional, your job is to ensure continual systems availability and to mitigate risk. Monitoring your IT infrastructure is an essential part of your overall IT strategy, yet many companies either don’t have an effective system in place or are using outdated tools that only provide part of the picture.
The risks associated with not monitoring your system or using outdated tools definitely outweigh the time required to advance your systems measurement resources and their costs. Failure to monitor or using outdated systems can lead to unnecessary downtime, reduced security, lost profits and is a major blow to your company’s street cred. Here are the Top Five Reasons Why IT Performance Monitoring is Critical
No one wants to experience downtime. Your network needs to do more than simply work as expected. It is imperative that it is working at all times. By integrating newer IT performance monitoring tools, you’ll ensure that every aspect of your IT infrastructure is stable and functioning as it should. Alerting functions provide up-to-the-minute information about performance issues that could cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars in unplanned downtime.
Just turn on the evening news and you’ll hear about hackers, phishing schemes and other malicious attempts to extract customer and credit card data from companies. By incorporating an IT performance monitoring software, you’ll have the protection you need to mitigate the risk of experiencing a “Day at the Breach” by proactively identifying weak points in your security setup. IT performance monitoring tools will automatically alert you to atypical system activity which gives you the power to respond to potential threats and stop the bad guys in their tracks before it’s too late.
It’s is easier than ever to manage internal and external expectations with an IT performance monitoring system in place. With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can provide your staff with the tools they need to report on what’s working, and what isn’t. You’ll also be able to ensure that you’re providing a reliable customer experience.
Data visualization turns obscure data into easily understandable visuals and provides a quick way to convey your message. When the data is presented visually, the IT team can more effectively recognize patterns, identify data outliers and analyze data over time. Elements and patterns that were once too obscure to notice on a spreadsheet will pop off the page when delivered in a visual manner. Data visualization also allows members of the c-suite and other decision-makers to quickly identify trends and patterns to understand how one variable affects other areas of the company.
Your company’s brand is at stake. Now we realize that many of you might be saying “branding…schmanding….what does our internal IT infrastructure have to do with my company’s brand anyway?” Well, take our word for it…it does. As more and more customers interact with your brand online, ensuring that your systems are safe, secure and always working is imperative to repeat business and an IT performance monitoring solution is the key element to delivering an exceptional customer experience.
A Bonus 6th Reason IT Performance Monitoring is Essential…
Your Competition is Using IT Performance Monitoring Software to Deliver More Value Internally and Externally
More and more companies are realizing that they can gain a competitive edge by leveraging the data that results from IT performance monitoring. Your competition is implementing IT performance monitoring to easily capture, monitor and visualize data streams to improve quality and reduce the costs of operations to remain competitive.
Successful companies are leveraging the advanced data and analytics to ensure system-wide performance. Whether they seek to improve customer experiences, catch product flaws before repairs or replacements are needed, or increase safety, these systems also provide IT and OT professionals in many industries such as manufacturing, financial services, and telecommunications with previously untapped views into how their businesses operate.
Companies like Sightline Systems are helping customers achieve business transformation with IT performance monitoring. The newest release of Sightline’s award winning platform for managing the continuous streams of time series data has broken new barriers, collecting data in real time millisecond observations. This breakthrough technology is providing users with access to data which was previously unavailable.
Sightline EDM helps users easily capture, monitor and visualize data streams from their IT environments. Older, legacy systems have for many years provided visibility into operations but the data was frequently summarized due to the volume of data produced. The state-of-the-art Sightline EDM software has removed these barriers and can store millisecond level data in real time and preserve the data for future analysis and planning tasks.
For more information about how IT performance can help your company reduce downtime, optimize performance and achieve real results, contact Sightline Systems.
INTEGRIS Health is Oklahoma’s largest state-owned health system, with hospitals, rehabilitation centers, physician clinics, mental health facilities, independent living centers, and home health agencies throughout the state. With a wide, interconnected network and much sharing of information between facilities, it is crucial that their IT network service levels ensure constant network availability in order to provide superior client response time. Sightline is being used to monitor the operating systems and hardware of INTEGRIS Health’s network. Ted Kidd, Systems Engineer for INTEGRIS Health, explained that the organization needed a tool to track overall system performance and utilization. In particular, they needed a monitoring solution for their OpenVMS platform. After looking at different vendors, including PAWZ, the company decided that Sightline would best serve their complex needs based on Sightline’s drill-down capabilities and ability to monitor server performance 24×7.
Kidd explained that Sightline has provided INTEGRIS Health with accurate historical information, as well as timely day-to-day information. It has eliminated guesswork about requirements for hardware and has allowed INTEGRIS Health to spot and analyze problems quickly and efficiently. In addition to covering their OpenVMS platform, Sightline has enabled INTEGRIS Health to monitor their Tru64 and AIX environments, fostering interrelationships between these critical systems. By using history trace files and offering the data on their internal web using Sightline’s AutoWeb, INTEGRIS Health has been able to better track server activity and actually see growth trends.
This is crucial to their systems engineers as well as management, who are able to access information for analysis in an easy and timely manner. As an example, Kidd cited a recent instance in which a message was received from their Tivoli monitor that the CPU of one of their servers was extremely busy. When they received the message, they pulled up the Sightline live feed plot for that server (which is offered up via AutoWeb). Because of this advanced monitoring feature of Sightline, Kidd was able to go to the web page for live plots and see that the CPU was pegged at 100% for the past 30 minutes. Kidd was able to work with the application/database analyst, find the cause of the problem, and resolve the issue. Sightline provided the means to see it all, enabling managers to implement performance rules and logic that automatically scanned all components of the critical transaction path in real-time to ensure complex operations remained contention free, and to assure service level standards.
Value Created for Executives and End Users:
With Sightline, INTEGRIS Health experiences value at all levels of the organization. At the executive level, it provides real-time information about the health of the system in terms they can understand. For IT staff, the drilldown capabilities allow a complete view of the system and any potential problems. It also assures better client response time because of less down time, and integrates with all platforms, representing huge economy of scale for cross-domain applications.
Sightline’s ability to layer performance metrics helped IT staff at one company resolve a system problem that had been plaguing them for some time prior to the installation. By examining the impact of several metrics simultaneously, they were able to quickly trace the performance problem to a source code issue. Sightline enables you to view end-to-end business flows and view service level indicators in real-time. An organization is able to maintain peak performance of its applications and the systems supporting them.
“We needed service level assurance across the many levels of our enterprise. Sightline makes a significant difference in our overall operations efficiency,” commented Ted Kidd, Systems Engineer, Integris Health management of the business critical IT infrastructure. Now organizations can easily identify trends and relationships in key business indicators as they are occurring, not after they have reached a critical threshold. Furthermore, Sightline can quickly and automatically determine the root causes which are contributing to any service level degradation and enable IT to address the issues before end-users experience any service interruptions.
Business in the highly competitive financial services industry has always been about providing the customer with the best possible service to ensure their patronage. Scottish Life recently received recognition for the management of customer facing IT systems and services. Compass Management Consulting, a fact-based performance improvement consultancy, awarded Scottish Life a place in the Top 20 world group of best performing companies in 2001, based on the speed and efficiency of its IT systems development and networks. “There is no question that financial services companies must rely more and more on highly efficient IT systems to help provide quality service to customers at minimum cost. Over the years, Scottish Life has invested prudently but significantly in this area, and we will continue to do so to help ensure that Independent Financial Advisors (IFAs) and their clients receive the kind of service they would want from us,” said Brian Duffin, chief executive of Scottish Life.
Prior to a major strategic infrastructure enhancement, Scottish Life faced significant obstacles in maintaining service levels. When Scottish Life’s original systems encountered service degradations, the resolution process began by users making a phone call to technical staff. Resolution of problems often resulted in significant delays as the technical staff waded through pages of figures. By the time the issue was resolved, the problem had often become much worse and the provision of service was greatly impacted. The lack of adequate measures to rapidly identify faults in the system led Scottish Life to seek greater reassurance in a resilient, structured solution.
Scottish Life viewed three competing systems’ monitoring tools before selecting Sightline™. After installing Sightline for a trial period, the software detected a major glitch that enabled Scottish Life to solve a significant problem prior to launch of a major new system. In addition, the graphic interface of Sightline made fault diagnosis easier to identify than with the competing products. Sightline’s performance quickly proved its value and was promptly installed across Scottish Life’s infrastructure.
Approximately 200,000 financial transactions are processed daily throughout Scottish Life’s IT infrastructure, with its primary service window operating between the hours of 8 am and 8 pm. At any given time, the system is capable of handling one thousand users, with the number stabilizing at between three to four hundred users at a time. Due to its advancements with Sightline, Scottish Life is now able to provide its computer users with service level agreements (SLAs) guaranteeing ninety-nine percent operational uptime.
At the center of Scottish Life operations are two Unisys based mainframe systems. The two mainframe systems contain complex information for the life and pensions financial service markets. Scottish Life predominantly conducts business with independent financial advisors who provide high-quality life and pension advice and services. At the center of Scottish Life operations are two Unisys based mainframe systems. The two key facilities are approximately one mile apart and connected by dark fiber. The first site contains production mainframes and network infrastructure. The second site contains the product development mainframe and network infrastructure, and additionally holds business continuity and disaster recovery facilities.
The production mainframe system is a monolithic Unisys LINC/DMSII application running on a Unisys ClearPath NX 6830. Performance and operation are supported with EMC Disk and ATL Tape Robots. As a regular winner of a ‘5-Star service to clients’ award, Scottish Life requires a consistent service within the Production Environment, based on constant quality, speed of service and rapid fault resolution.
A Mid-Atlantic State has been a customer of Sightline since 2002. They originally monitored just the OS2200 systems, and expanded to Windows systems over 10 years ago. The Windows systems include web servers running IIS and Component Services and database servers running Oracle and SQL Server. As the environment started moving to virtualization using VMware, Sightline software was also deployed to monitor systems at the VMware level. Sightline software is used for monitoring, alerting and reporting, as well as long-term trending of both system and storage resources.
Deployment: DPW uses the Sightline software to monitor approximately 700 test and production Windows systems and three ClearPath OS2200 mainframes. Sightline is an integral part of their IT environment, and there are several Sightline dashboards on display throughout the IT environment at DPW.
Customer Satisfaction: Because Sightline can be used to analyze applications across multiple systems, DPW has been able to successfully analyze issues where a symptom such as high transaction response time appears on one system, but the root cause is on another.
In 2013 DPW was the designated agency to provide access for its citizens to health insurance options provided through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Sightline Performance Suite was used to perform application and systems performance analysis and trend analysis for application response time and system resource utilization before and during the ACA implementation. Specifically, Sightline was used to compare application and system performance from the new application code suite on the Microsoft® Windows® servers and Unisys® ClearPath® to the previous versions of the application components to help identify applications that required further analysis to address measured performance issues and for helping to determine the health and stability of the DPW IT infrastructure. During the initial period of the ACA rollout, the Sightline software provided hands-on system monitoring and problem management. The Sightline software was instrumental in the technical monitoring of the DPW production IT environment in a conference room setting with managers and technical resources during the first three days when ACA became available for use. It helped diagnose and address five critical issues that developed for DPW during the first two days of the ACA implementation. As a result, the duration of these outages was shorter and reoccurrences were eliminated.
“I don’t know how a project of this magnitude can be implemented without using Sightline.”
System Administrator, State DPW.
The explosive growth in card-not-present e-commerce transactions coupled with ever increasing card-present transactions has spurred tremendous business expansion while presenting new challenges for operations staff responsible for maintaining service levels at global payments processors. At the heart of each company’s operations are several mission critical, high availability systems, delivering the performance and industry-leading up-time required for these high-volume 24x7x365 customer facing operations. Critical to achieving response time goals is each company’s ability to rapidly identify and resolve any problems in its processing, networking and communications systems. Delivering and monitoring this high level of system wide performance take a variety of solutions as Sightline Systems discovered when recently working with two global payments processors that are responsible for handling billions of merchant transactions per year. One company was using an in-house tool to monitor system performance in real time, requiring several hours of IT staff time each day, while the other company used a product that provided ad-hoc reports on system performance. Each organization recognized the need for a comprehensive automated performance management solution that would provide point-and-click visibility into the end-to-end real-time performance of its payments processing systems.
Each company developed a similar set of objectives for effectively monitoring and managing system performance:
Based on positive experiences with a trial installation, each company chose the Sightline™ software suite from Sightline Systems corporation. Sightline is a real-time performance and capacity management solution designed for complex “lights out” IT environments. The software continuously captures, stores and analyzes real-time performance and event data, producing actionable information to help detect and diagnose performance issues. Key features of the Sightline solution are its powerful data collection capabilities, robust analytic engine, and interactive user interface.
Specially designed data collection agents capture real-time performance data across the entire processing environment, including server systems, applications, networks, databases and other external sources. Data is aggregated, stored and sent to a dedicated server for analysis and display. Historical data is maintained in a centralized database, providing input for sophisticated trend analysis used to project future capacity needs.
Automated analysis tools apply application-specific “rules” to identify abnormal conditions that may impact service levels. Rule parameters are based on user-defined metrics and thresholds, and are configured after a discovery session with a Sightline engineer. Periods of abnormal activity are flagged and isolated, and user-defined alerts are issued. An industry-leading correlation engine compares interrelationships within the cross-tier data collected, offering insight into potential causes of performance problems.
The user-friendly Web interface presents a consolidated graphical view of multiple data sources. Authorized users can isolate specific periods of abnormal activity and drill down into the data, or initiate further analysis on demand. Customized reports and alerts are delivered through the Web-based interface, ensuring any time, anywhere access to critical performance information.
Sightline’s ability to layer performance metrics helped IT staff at one company resolve a system problem that had been plaguing them for some time prior to the installation. By examining the impact of several metrics simultaneously, they were able to quickly trace the performance problem to a source code issue. complex mission-critical operations. Sightline’s real-time analysis and visualization capabilities enable both companies to pinpoint problems in minutes rather than days or weeks, freeing up IT staff to focus on other responsibilities. As a result, one company was able to expand the role of key members of IT staff previously dedicated to monitoring system performance.
Operations managers and executives at both companies use Sightline as a business analysis and planning tool. Easy access to Sightline’s graphical displays and customized reports enables them to track service levels and view performance metrics. whenever they want. After running a trend analysis using 18 months of historical data, one company projected a need for additional capacity to accommodate an upcoming busy shopping season. As a result, the company was able to proactively plan and budget for the additional capacity, while ensuring it could deliver superior service throughout the upcoming peak period.
A major data center hosting company has been a customer of Sightline since 2002, originally monitoring multiple Unisys ClearPath OS2200 mainframes. They migrated their applications to Windows and Linux/UNIX systems and by 2010 were no longer using mainframes any longer, but considered the Sightline software to be essential and continued to use the Sightline software for performance monitoring, detailed performance analysis and capacity planning on the new platforms.
Deployment: Currently the company monitors approximately 15,500 Windows and Linux systems (11,375 Windows and 4125 Linux) using Sightline Power Agents, along with a handful of Solaris and IBM AIX systems. They consider the Sightline Power Agent to be unique in retrieving the volume of data that it does with such a small footprint on the system. They monitor over 100,000 transactions per minute using the Sightline software, and have over 170,000 charts that are updated in real time, representing the resource utilization of these systems.
The hosting provider is currently implementing an enterprise-wide system alerting system based on the data collected by Sightline. In addition, they plan to use the Sightline data for billing/chargeback in the future.
Gain the insight you need to optimize IT performance, reduce operational issues and automate capacity planning with Enterprise Data Management (EDM) by Sightline Systems. EDM is specifically designed to provide today's busy business leaders with the real-time data they need to make smarter, more cost effective decisions, and reduce downtime.
EDM provides IT teams with a single, simple yet powerful view into every part of a company's infrastructure from mainframes to the latest in Windows and Linux systems. EDM is scalable to the size of any business, capable of monitoring hundreds to thousands of infrastructure components with more than 7,500 points of collected data. Not only does it allow teams to better manage that infrastructure, it allows them to replace multiple single-system monitoring tools with a single solution than can monitor every component within that infrastructure.
Eliminate waste by underscoring trends, data and patterns that are affecting efficiency
Find the needle in the haystack by performing root-cause, multi-system analysis
Blend performance, measurement and compliance
Forecast future behavior easily with web-based Self Service reports and Quick Charts
Clairvor delivers an enterprise-grade root-cause analysis. It automates the investigation of service issues from multiple data sources and integrates all of the necessary information to diagnose issues into one central dashboard.
ForSight will help your team automate capacity planning by leveraging real-time reports including forecasting of when capacity will be exceeded. No modeling is required.
ACE will help you enforce compliance and security policies. Discover, detect and audit thousands of out-of-the-box security and operational policies or create your own with the policy engine.
FAIRFAX, VA – March 6, 2016 – We are proud to announce that Sightline Systems’ own Brandon Witte is mentioned in the ITOA Landscape’s 2016 ITOA Predictions list. The list features quotes from the ITOA50 (the Who’s Who of ITOA IT Operations Analytics Leaders) and ITOA analysts. The list of quotes provides insightful predictions about just how IT Operations Analytics (ITOA) will affect organizations in 2016.
According to Mr. Witte, “This year, we are going to see predictive analytics take center stage for infrastructure monitoring. Rather than being in a reactionary mode, IT teams will now be able to access more data-points and real-time analytics than ever before to help them understand what is happening now and to accurately forecast what will happen in their businesses over time. Predictive analytics will help businesses improve efficiency and up-time which will stimulate long-term growth. Data centers will now be able to closely monitor everything from primary servers to PDUs and HVAC systems to cameras and electronic door locks to identify issues before they become too costly.”
To read other quotes from the 2016 ITOA Predictions List, visit http://www.itoa-landscape.org/2016-itoa-predictions.
1. Log into Sightline EDM
2. Add an Alert Group
6. Find the desired metric and click the insert button
7. Add in the necessary operators (see EDM Documentation for more detailed description of available operations)
8. Add an Expression Name
9. Click "Save Expression"
10. Find and click your newly created expression under the "---All Expressions ---" group
11. Click the "Select Metric" button
12. Set the Alert Value to .999
13. Fill in any information for alert emails, traps, sounds etc. See EDM documentation for more information about configuring alerts.
14. Click the Finish Button
15. Assign the newly created alert group to a connection.
While today’s monitoring solutions help IT teams view their IT infrastructures with little to no tweaking, using an IT monitoring solution that allows for complex expressions can be very useful in improving reliability.
So what’s a complex expression? A compound expression is a series of simple expressions joined by arithmetic operators. It’s a way of combining a series of thresholds together that, when in violation all at the same time, could lead to a bigger problem. Once these compound expressions are created, teams can apply those expressions to historical data to see if when problems began or occurred. Or they can combine them with their IT monitoring solution’s alerting capabilities to inform IT teams when certain conditions are met.
Using an IT monitoring and analysis solution such as Sightline EDM, this expression can be used to perform root cause analysis. Once the expression has been created and data has been collected, the data can be plotted over a time period to find any violations. Correlation can then be used with root cause analysis to find related events (across different systems). If you’re already an EDM user, I’ve even written a short guide on Creating Compound Expression Alerts in Sightline EDM.
Compound expressions, even such as the simple math equations above drastically improve your IT monitoring solution. It’s up to you to be creative and make awesome expressions to monitor your IT environment and solve problems when or even before they happen.