Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Sanjay Zalavadia, Xenia von Wedel, Dana Gardner

Blog Feed Post

10 Things We Forgot to Monitor

10 Things We Forgot to Monitor

After publishing Ben’s blog post about “Memory Monitoring with LXC” we realized there is a lot of interest in articles about Monitoring. I got in touch with Jehiah Czebotar, Head of Engineering at bitly, and asked him if we could republish his blog post about things bitly forgot to monitor.

Jehiah originally published his blog post on the bitly engeneering blog. You can find Jehiah on twitter and on his personal page. Definitely check out his “Personal Annual Reports“.


There is always a set of standard metrics that are universally monitored (Disk Usage, Memory Usage, Load, Pings, etc). Beyond that, there are a lot of lessons that we’ve learned from operating our production systems that have helped shape the breadth of monitoring that we perform at bitly.

One of my favorite all-time tweets is from @DevOps_Borat

What follows is a small list of things we monitor at bitly that have grown out of those (sometimes painful!) experiences, and where possible little snippets of the stories behind those instances.

1 – Fork Rate

We once had a problem where IPv6 was intentionally disabled on a box via options ipv6 disable=1 and alias ipv6 off in /etc/modprobe.conf. This caused a large issue for us: each time a new curl object was created, modprobe would spawn, checking net-pf-10 to evaluate IPv6 status. This fork bombed the box, and we eventually tracked it down by noticing that the process counter in /proc/stat was increasing by several hundred a second. Normally you would only expect a fork rate of 1-10/sec on a production box with steady traffic.

2 – flow control packets

TL;DR; If your network configuration honors flow control packets and isn’t configured to disable them, they can temporarily cause dropped traffic. (If this doesn’t sound like an outage, you need your head checked.)

$ /usr/sbin/ethtool -S eth0 | grep flow_control
rx_flow_control_xon: 0
rx_flow_control_xoff: 0
tx_flow_control_xon: 0
tx_flow_control_xoff: 0

Note: Read this to understand how these flow control frames can cascade to switch-wide loss of connectivity if you use certain Broadcom NIC’s. You should also trend these metrics on your switch gear. While at it, watch your dropped frames.

3 – Swap In/Out Rate

It’s common to check for swap usage above a threshold, but even if you have a small quantity of memory swapped, it’s actually the rate it’s swapped in/out that can impact performance, not the quantity. This is a much more direct check for that state.

4 – Server Boot Notification

Unexpected reboots are part of life. Do you know when they happen on your hosts? Most people don’t. We use a simple init script that triggers an ops email on system boot. This is valuable to communicate provisioning of new servers, and helps capture state change even if services handle the failure gracefully without alerting.

5 – NTP Clock Offset

If not monitored, yes, one of your servers is probably off. If you’ve never thought about clock skew you might not even be running ntpd on your servers. Generally there are 3 things to check for. 1) That ntpd is running, 2) Clock skew inside your datacenter, 3) Clock skew from your master time servers to an external source.

We use check_ntp_time for this check.

6 – DNS Resolutions

Internal DNS – It’s a hidden part of your infrastructure that you rely on more than you realize. The things to check for are 1) Local resolutions from each server, 2) If you have local DNS servers in your datacenter, you want to check resolution, and quantity of queries, 3) Check availability of each upstream DNS resolver you use.

External DNS – It’s good to verify your external domains resolve correctly against each of your published external nameservers. At bitly we also rely on several CC TLD’s and we monitor those authoritative servers directly as well (yes, it’s happened that all authoritative nameservers for a TLD have been offline).

7 – SSL Expiration

It’s the thing everyone forgets about because it happens so infrequently. The fix is easy, just check it and get alerted with enough timeframe to renew your SSL certificates.

define command{
    command_name    check_ssl_expire
    command_line    $USER1$/check_http --ssl -C 14 -H $ARG1$
}
define service{
    host_name               virtual
    service_description     bitly_com_ssl_expiration
    use                     generic-service
    check_command           check_ssl_expire!bitly.com
    contact_groups          email_only
    normal_check_interval   720
    retry_check_interval    10
    notification_interval   720
}

8 – DELL OpenManage Server Administrator (OMSA)

We run bitly split across two data centers, one is a managed environment with DELL hardware, and the second is Amazon EC2. For our DELL hardware it’s important for us to monitor the outputs from OMSA. This alerts us to RAID status, failed disks (predictive or hard failures), RAM Issues, Power Supply states and more.

9 – Connection Limits

You probably run things like memcached and mysql with connection limits, but do you monitor how close you are to those limits as you scale out application tiers?

Related to this is addressing the issue of processes running into file descriptor limits. We make a regular practice of running services with ulimit -n 65535 in our run scripts to minimize this. We also set Nginx worker_rlimit_nofile.

10 – Load Balancer Status.

We configure our Load Balancers with a health check which we can easily force to fail in order to have any given server removed from rotation.We’ve found it important to have visibility into the health check state, so we monitor and alert based on the same health check. (If you use EC2 Load Balancers you can monitor the ELB state from Amazon API’s).

Various Other things to watch

New entries written to Nginx Error Logs, service restarts (assuming you have something in place to auto-restart them on failure), numa stats, new process core dumps (great if you run any C code).


We want to thank Jehiah for making his original article available to our readers. Is there something missing on this list in your opportunity? Let us know in the comments!

Codeship – A hosted Continuous Deployment platform for web applications

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Manuel Weiss

I am the cofounder of Codeship – a hosted Continuous Integration and Deployment platform for web applications. On the Codeship blog we love to write about Software Testing, Continuos Integration and Deployment. Also check out our weekly screencast series 'Testing Tuesday'!

@ThingsExpo Stories
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
Basho Technologies has announced the latest release of Basho Riak TS, version 1.3. Riak TS is an enterprise-grade NoSQL database optimized for Internet of Things (IoT). The open source version enables developers to download the software for free and use it in production as well as make contributions to the code and develop applications around Riak TS. Enhancements to Riak TS make it quick, easy and cost-effective to spin up an instance to test new ideas and build IoT applications. In addition to...
When people aren’t talking about VMs and containers, they’re talking about serverless architecture. Serverless is about no maintenance. It means you are not worried about low-level infrastructural and operational details. An event-driven serverless platform is a great use case for IoT. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Animesh Singh, an STSM and Lead for IBM Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, will detail how to build a distributed serverless, polyglot, microservices framework using open source tec...
Apixio Inc. has raised $19.3 million in Series D venture capital funding led by SSM Partners with participation from First Analysis, Bain Capital Ventures and Apixio’s largest angel investor. Apixio will dedicate the proceeds toward advancing and scaling products powered by its cognitive computing platform, further enabling insights for optimal patient care. The Series D funding comes as Apixio experiences strong momentum and increasing demand for its HCC Profiler solution, which mines unstruc...
IoT offers a value of almost $4 trillion to the manufacturing industry through platforms that can improve margins, optimize operations & drive high performance work teams. By using IoT technologies as a foundation, manufacturing customers are integrating worker safety with manufacturing systems, driving deep collaboration and utilizing analytics to exponentially increased per-unit margins. However, as Benoit Lheureux, the VP for Research at Gartner points out, “IoT project implementers often ...
It is one thing to build single industrial IoT applications, but what will it take to build the Smart Cities and truly society changing applications of the future? The technology won’t be the problem, it will be the number of parties that need to work together and be aligned in their motivation to succeed. In his Day 2 Keynote at @ThingsExpo, Henrik Kenani Dahlgren, Portfolio Marketing Manager at Ericsson, discussed how to plan to cooperate, partner, and form lasting all-star teams to change t...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
Presidio has received the 2015 EMC Partner Services Quality Award from EMC Corporation for achieving outstanding service excellence and customer satisfaction as measured by the EMC Partner Services Quality (PSQ) program. Presidio was also honored as the 2015 EMC Americas Marketing Excellence Partner of the Year and 2015 Mid-Market East Partner of the Year. The EMC PSQ program is a project-specific survey program designed for partners with Service Partner designations to solicit customer feedbac...
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...