Introduction

Cloud monitoring works best when you pair it with incident management systems because it lets you switch from “reactive” monitoring to “proactive” monitoring. The goal, as always, is to identify a set of repeating problems with performance before they escalate into something much worse, such as an outage or a breach of performance thresholds.

Incident management systems work in line with cloud monitoring tools to respond to issues promptly without disrupting service operations. For these tools to work, however, it’s important to monitor the right things to identify problems an application or infrastructure is facing on a day-to-day basis.

Here are some best practices that can help you get started with your customized solution.

1. Define Your Monitoring Standards and Thresholds 

Figure out what ‘normal operation’ means for your business as the definition varies for different organizations. For example, if you’re creating an application that sells computer peripherals, you may expect high traffic around certain months of the year. If you’re supporting an application that handles food delivery, you may see a spike in usage activity during peak times (which can also result in spending hikes).

Once you have identified ‘normal’, you can create event-triggered alerts to stay ahead of issues.

KPIs in cloud monitoring include:

  • Host disk usage
  • High IO wait times
  • Increase in the number of network errors
  • Nodes that are not ready
  • DNS errors

Figuring out your ‘normal’ requires a precise understanding of your technology stack and events that could affect resource usage. It is highly recommended to meet with appropriate personnel in your business who can define expected usage cycles to codify that into your application systems. If you are using a service that is prone to extreme fluctuations leading to frequent outages, you may want to opt for outsourcing or designing an entirely different service.

Expert Suggestion: Define Urgency

The impact of an event and the urgency of remedial action must be identified and evaluated on an ongoing basis. In the case of impact, it is important to determine if the alert is actionable, the severity of the alert, and the number of users or services that have been affected. Urgency can be used to evaluate if the problem needs to be fixed right now, in the next few hours, or if it can be delayed until the next few days.

2. Understand Your Business Objectives

Without a good understanding of your business goals, it would be difficult to design monitoring and incident management systems based on your needs. To get started, it helps to track things such as:

  • Number of unique users and visitors
  • Time spent on a page or site
  • Number of registrations
  • Navigation patterns
  • Number of page views

Once you have this data, it becomes easier to monitor customer experience and introduce new features. You can also monitor if clients are not using your apps as frequently as they used to or when there has been a reduction in the number of registrations. This allows you to catch features or bugs that may be interfering with your users’ experiences with your app.

Expert suggestion: Define Ownership of Information

Depending on the size of your business, you may have a diverse set of stakeholders involved in monitoring workloads. This requires you to define responsibility both from an infrastructure and workload standpoint. One key advantage of defining ownership is that it lets you send the right alerts to the right people at the right time without disrupting other teams or operations that are not concerned with the event.

3. Security

For obvious reasons, security is an area that requires to be proactive. While it’s important to make sure that a security issue never arises in the first place, you should be able to respond quickly once an intrusion has been detected. Once you have established a baseline, start defining what constitutes a deviation from the baseline. You can then create an action plan for preventive and remedial steps in case a breach occurs.

Here are a few ideas to help you create a robust security baseline:

  • The first step is to ensure there is good communication and collaboration between security and cloud teams.
  • Next, create a policy for identity management and promptly take action when there is a policy breach.
  • Verify that API keys are not stored on code repositories, public or private.
  • Ensure you have working knowledge of external dependencies such as libraries are part of your overall technology stack.
  • Regularly conduct security testing, including security audits and penetration tests.
  • Make sure you know which applications are using resources so when it’s time to make changes. This way, you can anticipate potential issues that could arise based on their history of performance.

4. Benefits of Integrating Monitoring Practices with Incident Management

The next step after determining the baseline for what constitutes ‘normal’ in your daily operations is implementing pair monitoring systems with incident management. This can be achieved with an event management technology platform that can provide round-the-clock monitoring for system health and performance.

Some of the benefits of integrating system monitoring with response management include:

Context: Incident management systems can create a single source of truth by consolidating information from different business units to provide context. Context can provide insights to DevOps teams so that they can formulate the most appropriate response to different situations. Alerts can be created with web forms, technical staff reports, call center inputs, and other data.

Prioritization: Based on the severity of anomalies, triggers and alerts can be dispatched to the right response team so they can perform diagnostics.

Insights: The seamless flow of information between monitoring and incident management systems can be used to improve monitoring algorithms and response workflows.

Agility: By unifying diverse streams of information into a single source of truth, all relevant business units can collaborate more efficiently to share resources and reduce errors.

It’s worth noting that incident management and integrated monitoring can support scalability, minimize alert fatigue, and lower support costs.

Conclusion: Optimize Monitoring and Incident Management with Logstail

Without an in-depth understanding of data and context, your team would not be able to monitor the right things and know when to drop everything to fix an alert. Figuring out what to monitor and how to react to different incidents can be difficult. With that said, it can be helpful to unify different streams of information into a single source of truth (and further strengthening that information by providing context). This makes it easier to decide which teams should be woken up in the middle of the night to fix everything back in working order.

With Logstail, you can gain access to industry-standard tools for monitoring and incident management. This allows you to gain improved insights into your infrastructure and understand the cost of using resources. Using Logstail allows companies to proactively monitor and fix problems before their customers start to notice and optimize costs, including chargebacks.

Our cloud-hosted solution with advanced features brings the functionality of centralized monitoring to your hands. Convert your data into actionable insights and maximize the performance of your infrastructure, or be notified of potential problems and take the appropriate actions. Sign-up for a free demo in order to realize the power of Logstail! Logstail will re-adjust the way you monitor your data and will help you get more meaningful insights of your technical logs, via dashboards and powerful graphs, to stay alert for all possible dangers.

In Logstail we are also offering the full range of services required to effectively mitigate cyber-attacks. Incident response and consulting, penetration testing, and red team operations, are altogether aiming to help our customers mitigate their cyber incidents. Contact us at sales@logstail.com to get a tailored offer for your business or get a free consultation by our team of globally recognized security experts!

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