What is IT infrastructure monitoring?
Infrastructure monitoring is the ability to monitor all devices plus their interfaces, memory, data storage, and other properties involved in supporting network and application health. These devices can be routers, switches, servers, load balancer, etc. and they can be on-premises or in the cloud. Regardless of where these devices reside, infrastructure monitoring gives you the health of the infrastructure and its components supporting your critical applications. If an application goes down and isn’t available, you need to be able to determine the real root cause fast – is it the application, infrastructure, or network?
Infrastructure monitoring solutions help capture infrastructure information, detect performance issues, map application network paths, diagram your network, troubleshoot infrastructure problems, manage configurations, and plan network architectures.
Infrastructure monitoring is one of the three pillars of the Riverbed Unified NPM platform. Without an understanding of how the underlying devices are performing, you are partially blind to issues.
IT infrastructure monitoring tools
Gartner defines IT Infrastructure Monitoring tools (ITIM) having the ability capture the availability of the IT infrastructure components that reside in a data center or are hosted in the cloud as infrastructure as a service (IaaS). These tools monitor and collate the availability and resource utilization metrics of servers, networks, database instances, hypervisors and storage. Notably, these tools collect metrics in real time and perform historical data analysis or trending of the elements they monitor.
There are many ways to monitor infrastructure. Some of the more common methods includes SNMP monitoring, WMI polling, streaming telemetry, IP SLA, synthetic monitoring, and Syslog.
Your network is filled with infrastructure components, but do you know what they’re all doing and how their behavior is affecting your applications? Fortunately, most components support SNMP (Simple Network Monitoring Protocol) monitoring, which provides the information necessary for fast detection of network infrastructure outages and failures. SNMP delivers critical information about network device and interface availability and other performance indicators, such as bandwidth utilization, packet loss, latency, errors, discards, CPU, and memory.
Windows Management Instrumentation or WMI polling is very similar is SNMP monitoring except that it is specific to Windows devices. WMI tells you information about Windows CPU, disk, memory, and operating system health. It also provides information about the processes running on the device, what type of resources the processes are consuming, and the health of certain key Microsoft applications (SQL Server, IIS Web Service, Domain Controller / Active Directory, MSMQ queues). WMI also collects and shares the detailed information in the Windows Task Manager. Basically, it lets you know if Windows devices and apps are healthy.
A key difference between SNMP and streaming telemetry is the method of data collection. Instead of the pull model used by SNMP, streaming telemetry uses a push model to continuously stream data from network devices to one or more network monitoring systems. Streaming telemetry gathers operational data from various network devices, combines the information, and then forwards it for inspection and study. Streaming telemetry allows enterprises to track network state, identify network problems, and optimize network performance.
IP SLA (Service Level Agreement) is an active method of monitoring and reporting on network performance. Active, in this case, means that IP SLA will generate and actively monitor traffic continuously across the network. An IP SLA Router can generate traffic and reporting on it in real time. IP SLA can be configured in such a way that it can report on statistics such as: jitter, response time, packet loss, MOS, connectivity, server or website response/downtime, and delay. Riverbed supports Cisco and Juniper IP SLA tests.
Synthetic monitoring uses distributed test engines to remotely test performance and availability of your applications, sites, and devices– even when there is no traffic. With synthetic monitoring, scripts or agents are deployed at key user locations to simulate the path an end-user takes when accessing on-prem or cloud applications. Synthetic testing gives tremendous flexibility with light-weight infrastructure that can be turned on instantaneously.
Syslog is a standard network-based logging protocol that works on a wide variety of devices and applications, allowing them to send text-formatted log messages to a central server. Essentially every networked, whether it’s a server, a switch, or a firewall, has a syslog agent you can use to send messages to a common central location.
Why is infrastructure monitoring important?
Infrastructure monitoring affords you a real-time awareness of your infrastructure, which can be invaluable. You can dramatically reduce the workload associated with managing and monitoring your infrastructure. It maximizes network availability by reducing blind spots, empowers proactive infrastructure monitoring and improves troubleshooting.
Tracking the health and performance of devices in your IT infrastructure is another important contribution made by effective infrastructure monitoring. With analysis of devices and your wider IT infrastructure, you can better pinpoint imminent failures before they impact performance.
The Riverbed infrastructure monitoring solution is called NetIM. Enterprises use NetIM to proactively monitor and troubleshoot their IT infrastructure, map application network paths, diagram the network, and troubleshoot configuration problems. Riverbed NetIM leverages SNMP, WMI, IP SLA, synthetic monitoring, Syslog, CLI, and APIs to understand how infrastructure is affecting network and application performance.