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Tale of two cloud-based management tools

Tom Henderson | Oct. 8, 2013
Halo focuses on configuration and compliance; Anturis homes in on uptime.

The private agents are daemons that report to the Anturis portal, on an administratively defined schedule. Public or privately spawned agent communications are in two states, problem, or not-problem — meaning okay. One cannot acknowledge a problem and have it considered remedied.

External Monitors pages at the portal allowed us to view actions as seen by the portal or its agents. Internal monitors are daemons installed into servers and other components in turn, check things like CPU utilization, disk space, and other characteristics. Disk space too low on Server 21? Make it a problem, define what space is needed, and it will report when disk space is too low. Such monitoring traps are fairly rudimentary, but also often the crux of systems insanity.

Monitors can also check the presence of errors in log files. Sadly, no stock examples exist, a decided failing, we judged. However, you can build your own log file monitors via a wizard, by specifying the path (often in the same place in a file system, like /var/log in Linux or in the Event logs in Windows), then the specifics of the datum, and whether the log is a rolling file or if the entire file should be read, rather than twigging at the first found instance.

Agents can also test life in mail servers through SMTP and POP3 contacts externally. Internally, the same servers that host mail services can be checked for varying conditions. They're not as sophisticated as having Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager, rather a quick health check, easily deployed, if a bit superficial.

Server processes are monitored by private agents, but the data points are very few compared to very fine-grained monitoring products like Microsoft's System-Center 2012. What's monitored could be: free physical memory, disk space; swap usage; aforementioned log file line item presence, CPU or disk use; an SNMP device get characteristic; or a custom check generated by a shell command. Also available are MySQL database checks — more than 15 of them.

The shell command can look for the range or textual content return of an executed command or script on the targeted host. If you wanted to check an IP address, you could have the shell execute ifconfig/ipconfig then check for the substring find of the correct address. Or you can check for a range of numbers. Either way, you can specify the period of execution, and if the return from the executed command/script doesn't work, an alarm can be popped to remind you, as an example, to change tapes, while you're at the beach.

The MySQL monitor, which we only remedially tested, show failures triggered by a percentage rate for both Warning and Error conditions. Attributes rates checked are: slow queries, slow threads, heavy joins, table lock contention, on-disk temporary table rate, key cache misses, query cache misses, query cache pruning rate, innodb buffer pools misses, innodb pool wait rate, log cache wait rate, thread cache miss rates, innodb buffer pool utilization, and connections usage, all expressed as rates.


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