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Increase Productivity by Classifying Monitored Alerts

productivity
Few people think about the types of alerts they receive. Yet, having the right types of alerts configured can result in significant cost-savings, improved infrastructure performance and increased end-user productivity. By planning and categorizing the right alerts for your company’s infrastructure operations, you can be confident that your IT operations are running smoothly and efficiently.

Alerts can be categorized into three classifications:

Performance Alerts – These are simple alerts used to make sure day to day operations are running smoothly.  These are things that may need immediate attention, such as a sudden spike in CPU utilization that’s causing your end-users to have a bad experience, or a large memory increase indicating that something needs to be investigated in the very near future.

Capacity Alerts – Classic alerts that warn end-users about when storage is full, CPUs are at full utilization, RAM is at zero or other factors. Capacity alerts have evolved to include triggers before capacity thresholds are exceeded. These triggers alerts IT teams when things should be fixed or fined tuned in order to reduce operating costs or increase productivity.

Dynamic Alerts – A modern, smarter approach to notification is the dynamic alert. A dynamic alert has the ability to move the threshold parameters based on day-to-day or week-to-week use.  Say on a Monday morning, CPU utilization of your farm is high at 80% due to workers showing up after a weekend, ready to tackle their assignments.  A dynamic alert would be smart enough to capture typical Monday CPU utilization and classify that use as “normal”. Yet, a dynamic alert might be triggered if CPU use on a Monday hits 99% or drops to 30%, a clear sign that there’s a problem. By analyzing trends over time by time of day we can create intelligent alerts and become aware of things which otherwise may not be noticed.

Now that you know the three types of alerts, you should look at your current alerts and see where switching alerts to a different type might help decrease the amount of alerts you get while improving the fidelity of alerts that need immediate attention. Good luck.

Meet Sightline Assure

As a successful monitoring and analytics solution provider, we’ve had 12 years of success answering the needs of current and future customers. While our EDM product has continuously delivered a high level of performance for IT teams from banks to telecommunications to airlines, it is a powerful enterprise-grade solution that some businesses don’t need yet. Yet, we believe that regardless of size, every business needs an IT monitoring solution that helps keep their systems running.

So we decided to simplify.

Sightline Assure is a new product that utilizes the power of EDM into a simplified, easy-to-read solution for companies that need to look and understand their entire server stack essentials from hardware to operating systems (Windows, Linux and VMware) to virtual machines.

Accuracy was essential. Assure features the same EDM platform technology to deliver high-fidelity of data monitoring to the end user. With 98% of EDM customers choosing to stick with EDM for the past 10 years, its platform as the foundation not only made Assure easier to develop, it allows us to update Assure with better technologies when they become available.

Portability was essential. While EDM’s is web-based, Assure needed to offer an interface that’s not only accessible from a laptop, its information needed to be readable from a smartphone or tablet. We tested Assure from a wide variety of devices and we’re happy to report that Assure is up to the task.

Simplicity was essential. Assure needed to boil down the 700+ metrics it receives into knowledge and notification – it needed to convey immediate context to any user. So Assure features only three easy to understand colors: Grey for good, yellow for warning and red for more immediate concerns. When end users drill deeper into Assure, they gain more knowledge about issues, when they began and how long they’ve lasted. It’s simply enough to learn in just a few minutes, doesn’t need a long-winded manual or long hours of training.

Pricing was essential. With Assure, we wanted to create a solution for any company looking to increase their IT systems’ operational stability so we priced Assure at a level that even a very small company could easily afford.

We’d like to thank the Sightline Assure team for adding expertise to building a solution for an industry that can significantly improve their operations as they upgrade their operations to Industry 4.0.

team-photo

Meet the Sightline Assure Team

So when will we release Sightline Assure? Today. Take a moment to look at the Assureproduct page to learn more, watch a video that talks about how it works and feel free to reach out to ask about how to purchase Assure for your company.

Sightline Systems is looking for experienced sales professionals to join our growing sales team in our Fairfax office.  The individual will be responsible for selling our Analytics and Performance Solutions.

Qualified applicants should send a cover letter and resume to recruiting@sightline.com.

Job Description

Responsibilities for the position include but are not limited to:

  • Identify new sales opportunities using enabled qualifying skills and tactics
  • Generate revenue from new and existing customers in assigned territory
  • Establish and maintain good rapport and customer support to existing customers
  • Create and execute key sales and business development initiatives to increase sales pipeline
  • Develop and execute sales strategy plans on accounts within assigned territory
  • Position Sightline appropriately and effectively with clients considering Sightline solutions
  • Develop reference accounts that are willing to be active in sharing their success with Sightline solutions with prospective customers
  • Maintain knowledge of the latest trends in the Operations Analytics industry
  • Actively participate and provide leadership within industry networking organizations
  • Provide continuous verbal and written updates on forecast, opportunity pipeline and territory plan
  • Possess thorough knowledge of company and products/services
  • Be able to present the value proposition to all levels within the organization
  • Qualify a high volume of prospects in and out of the opportunity pipeline

Desired Skills and Experience

  • 5+ years of relevant sales/ business development experience preferably in software sales
  • Job duties are varied and complex requiring independent judgment, collaboration and leadership
  • Ideal candidates will have experience selling monitoring, Operations, Customer Experience, Analytics, or similar applications
  • Highly developed selling, customer relations and negotiations skills with the ability to effectively communicate with C-level executives and line of business representatives
  • Ability to work collaboratively in a team-based environment and execute upon agreed strategy
  • Ability to penetrate accounts and represent the broader Sightline value proposition as well as specific value and capability messaging
  • Excellent written, verbal and interpersonal skills are staples of the position
  • Demonstrated ability to present effectively and to sell to a technical solution
  • Strong skills in communication, negotiation, organization and teamwork
  • Desire to work from a central location with emphasis on selling through the phone
  • Some travel required
  • Bachelor’s degree

We offer all of the advantages you would expect from an industry leader including a competitive salary and comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, holiday and vacation pay, 401K, stock option plan, and much more.

East of Data Center Alley: Our Trip to Data Center World

 

dcw-raffle2A good deal of the Internet traffic that flows to government sites and commercial sites like Amazon, LinkedIn and Facebook go through “Data Center Alley,” which is just minutes to the west of our Fairfax, VA-based headquarters.

Given that we offer enterprise-grade IT monitoring and analysis solutions that can work with data centers, we ventured to Data Center World a few weeks ago at National Harbor, MD to investigate how we could help.

We were welcomed into the data center industry as attendees were open to our questions and curious about what Sightline Systems could do.

While we talked about how we monitor and analyze the infrastructure that makes IT work inside businesses, other exhibitors showed us cooling, wiring, racks and power products that help fuel the IT infrastructures that we support.

Sightline Systems CEO Brandon Witte was also on hand to talk to business leaders, tell them about our solutions and handed out a $250 Amazon gift card to our raffle winner, Rahman Khaalis.

Leaving the show not only helped us understand the work and planning that goes into data center development and management, it gave us a new appreciation for the massive windowless buildings that we see on our daily commute.

Sightline's Comments on the Agent vs Agent-less Monitoring Debate

If the Agent-based or Agent-less debate has got you down, why not use both? For over fifteen years, Sightline Systems has delivered industry-leading agent-based data collection capabilities for mission-critical IT systems. This detailed data is critical for forensic root cause analysis and detailed capacity planning activities. But what about when this level of data collection is not required? Sightline Systems has the answer — our Agent-less data collection product allows you to collect data from systems without the need to deploy local agents.

Need high-level performance data quickly from a farm of servers? No problem!

Want to gather performance metrics from network or storage devices? We have you covered!

Our new framework offers the ability to take advantage of a variety of collection options without additional software installations. Agents are and will continue to be the industry standard mechanism for the collection of performance data on mission-critical systems. They offer security and availability that cannot be matched by Agent-less collection products. So end the debate — you can have your cake and eat it, too! Contact Sightline Systems today and enjoy the best of both worlds. (703) 563-3000

Installing and Updating the Power Agent on Windows Systems

Sept30

Creating a Response File

We have had several inquiries about silent installs and updates for the Sightline Power Agents. Silent installs and updates for Windows Power Agents are accomplished by creating a response file, documented here.

The Problem With Ghost Servers

Ghost servers are a growing problem for enterprise infrastructures. The term, which denotes unused or underutilized servers, has grown recently as companies perform cost, security or performance plans for their big networks. Back in 2013, a BizTech article entitled The IT Monster in the Closet: Ghost Servers cited an industry estimate that ghost servers may make up to 15 percent of the enterprise marketplace. With the growth of global enterprise networks over the last two years, 15 percent might be a conservative estimate in 2015.

In terms of cost, ghost servers consume power and require cooling. Typically the use of these systems have either have been deprecated but not removed from the network because they might still run one or a few VMs or other applications. Time and power equals money and while ghost servers might not break the bank, finding, removing or optimizing them can make IT teams gain visibility when companies are looking to lower IT costs.

Having any unmonitored systems attached to a secure network always increases risk. Ghost servers might not directly contribute to a significant rise in security breaches but they could, at least in theory without monitoring, supply hackers with a potential backdoor into your secure network. Back in 2006, Computer World reported that such a server was used to hack into Ohio University’s alumni database and obtain 170,000 social security numbers and personal information. How’d it happen? The IT team thought the server was offline.

Now for the good news. Ghost servers might also provide a vital and inexpensive way to increase infrastructure performance for teams looking for more processing power on-premises. Applications that might consume significant CPU or memory resources on a multi-VM servers might be moved to a ghost server or teams can increase performance by adding such servers to their load balancing activities.

So where do you start? First, teams need to find the servers and use a monitoring solution such at Sightline’s EDM to look at all the servers on a network to see which servers are on, operational and what applications are running. For systems that are powered on but idle, teams can use EDM to create groups of potential ghost servers to watch.

Next, teams need to discover when and how those servers have been used and resolve ownership of them. This might be the hardest part since teams might not have access to that data. Yet, it’s a vital way to ensure IT tranquility by avoiding the potential for shutting down a seldom used but vital server or VM.

Once identified, teams will need to figure out of the server is needed for another task or should be removed from your network. Regardless of the decision, optimization or offline, identifying ghost servers should be a priority for any company looking to increase performance or ensure additional security for their infrastructure.

VMware released vCenter 6.0 in April 2015. Like many IT professionals, we were interested in seeing what changes were made. After we upgraded to vCenter 6.0, we discovered that while it was more locked down, its shell could still give us more access.

While Sightline can monitor vCenter, ESX hosts and VMs agentlessly, our Power Agents offer a lot more data about what’s going on inside VM’s (mainly process level information), including the vCenter appliance. In fact, Power Agents included with Enterprise Data Management provide you with the real-time data you need to make smarter, more cost effective decisions. EDM is an award winning platform for managing the continuous stream of time series data that is being produced and will help you:

  • Monitor systems
  • Analyze trends and patterns
  • Diagnose costly issues quickly
  • Reduce cost
  • Conduct root cause analysis
  • Automate capacity planning

These are steps you can take to access, and add a firewall port exception to the built-in firewall that comes with the appliance.

VMware, of course, provides instructions on how to manipulate the firewall. But it only allows adding an ip, or ip range to the allowed list of systems that can communicate with vCenter.

In short, it doesn’t allow you to open a port. That was a problem since our Power Agent uses port 1645 for communicating and sending detailed performance data back to our analytics engine. We needed to open that port and that proved to be harder than we thought.

Adding a Port to vCenter:
1) First, you’ll need console access. This presents a familiar screen for admins who have accessed the ESX server consoles before. This is new for the vCenter 6.0 appliance.

vm1

2) Here, you’ll want to navigate to a hidden screen by pressing ALT+F1. Then, you’ll get this login screen:

vm2

3) Here, login with admin credentials and you’ll get a list of help commands.

4) Now, run the following:

vm3

After running “shell.set –enabled True” and “shell”, you’ll get a standard Linux-style prompt.

There is a warning about using the pi shell, and it’s only for advanced troubleshooting. As such, continue at your own risk.

5) Navigate to /etc/vmware/appliance

Here is where you can add custom firewall port changes in the services.conf.

vm5

6) WARNING: Initially, we tried to add a new group to the json in service.conf, and we ended up losing SSH access to the VM. It seems that VMware has a hardcoded limit of 4 rules. Adding a 5th seems to bump the first out.
7) To get around this, we just added our rule to the ssh rule.
run “vi services.conf”

8) We added a comma, and then the section in red.

vm6

9) Then, reload vSphere vCenter 6.0 Appliance FW rule by executing:
/usr/lib/applmgmt/networking/bin/firewall-reload
or simply reboot the vm.

After we rebooted… we could now access our performance monitoring tool on port 1645.

The New Sightline Systems Site. Earlier this summer we launched our new website. It’s clearer, more responsive, works on mobile devices and offers a cleaner, more modern look. You’ll also notice that we’ve added a blog and an area for past editions of Sightline Highlights.
Visit the new Sightline Systems Site

EDM 4.2 Released. EDM 4.2 expands its list of purpose-built features with automated and dynamic threshold settings for any monitored device, unlimited coverage to capture data from SNMP and customer-requested chart feature that gives IT administrators a quick way to prioritize infrastructure concerns.
Read Sightline EDM 4.2 Delivers Dynamic Alerts, Rapid Visualization and Quick Chart Feature

We Made the Most Promising Red Hat Solution Providers 2015 List. CIO Review’s annual top Red Hat Solution Providers list selects Sightline Systems for its dedication to providing the right tools that help companies transform server and application performance data into actionable business goals.
Read More About the Award

We’re Hiring. Think that you or a friend has the right stuff to join our team of experts? We’re hiring for six new positions in our Fairfax, Virginia office: Chief Architect, Mid Level Java Software Engineer, Senior Sales Representative, Solution Architect and a UI/UX Developer.
Need a New Job?

Virtual Appliances Made Easy With Oracle Linux. John Park, our systems administrator extraordinaire, recently created a virtual appliance that will help future customers add EDM to their infrastructures more easily. We were so impressed that we asked him to blog about it… Oracle was too… the company added the blog to its latest Oracle Linux newsletter.
Read About Easy Virtual Appliance Creation

Ask John
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Ask John! If we use your input in a future newsletter, we’ll send you a $10 Amazon gift card.

Role: Mid level Java software engineer with a growing technology company located in Fairfax, VA that specializes in performance planning and capacity management software. 

Qualified applicants should send a cover letter and resume to recruiting@sightline.com.

Location: Fairfax, VA

Responsibilities

  • Design and develop high-volume, low-latency applications for systems delivering high-availability and performance.
  • Contribute in all phases of the development lifecycle.
  • Write well designed, unit tested, efficient code.
  • Ensure designs are in compliance with specifications.
  • Prepare and produce releases of software components.
  • Support continuous improvement by investigating alternatives and technologies and presenting these for architectural review.

Requirements

  • BS/MS degree in Computer Science, Engineering or a related subject
  • Proven hands-on Software Development experience
  • Proven working experience in Java development
  • Hands on experience in designing and developing applications using Java EE platforms
  • object oriented analysis and design using common design patterns.
  • Excellent knowledge of Relational Databases, SQL (PostgreSQL, MySQL, Oracle) and ORM technologies (Hibernate)
  • Minimum of 5 years experience in Web programming using tools such as Java, JBOSS/WildFly, JSP, JSF, JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Jquery and Ajax, or equivalent knowledge

Other desirable technology experience: EJB, RMI, JMX, Rich Faces