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The Firm Foundation for Monitoring: Why it's all about that Baseline

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The Firm Foundation for Monitoring: Why it's all about that Baseline

Written by Jared Hensle, Senior Product Marketing Manager, SolarWinds

It's all about that base, that base, that baseline. Spectre and Meltdown are bad, and when (if?) the final fixes are available to the general public, you can bet your servers/applications are not going to perform as well as before. But that is still one of the many great unknowns with these security flaws. After applying these hot fixes and patches, how well are our operating systems and applications going to perform? For a hint at what some individuals and companies have experienced after applying "fixes, " you can read a few of the blog posts that are currently being published on the subject. Some have experienced more degraded performance than others, but what they ALL had in common were a baseline and benchmark PRIOR to apply and fix. 

How are you going to know what your performance degree is if you don't know what your current state is? Without proper baselining, you're left guessing that your websites, email, and custom applications may be running slower than before. You're also biased from all the reports/blogs (such as this one), and assuming performance is worse than it actually may be. What if you applied these updates just prior to month-end accounting activities on your accounting/database server? Your performance metrics are going to be completely skewed vs. a random Tuesday afternoon. Without proper baselining, you don't know that your GL reports add another x % to CPU and DISK I/O. 

[ READ: How to plan for disaster recovery ]

Baselining is the foundation of any good monitoring solution. Once you have gathered enough metrics, you can determine "what's normal." Knowing what metrics, be it applications, systems, code, etc., are and what they are expected to be at that given point in time allows you to determine what's normal for your applications. 

Baselining is not a once and you're done activity. As your business grows your applications and data will change, so you need to be vigilant to continue to monitor performance and continue to baseline. Let's say you add two new applications with 100 concurrent user connections to a server. Of course, you want to have the performance data and baseline information prior to adding the new applications, but once it's done you need to look at re-baselining your system. The prior alerts and metrics are no longer valid, and you and your monitoring solution need to adjust accordingly. 

Baselining also helps in scaling your organization, which allows you to report on application and infrastructure changes. Monitor and report to see if applications, operating systems, hardware updates, and other software and infrastructure updates had a positive or negative impact on performance. 

Regardless of the number of fixes/patches required to fix Spectre and Meltdown, you need to baseline your environment to see the business and performance impacts that happen over time. 

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About the Author

Jared Hensle is the senior product marketing manager at SolarWinds. In his role, he is responsible for overseeing product strategy and execution of the SolarWinds Virtualization Management business. Throughout his more than 15 years of experience as an IT professional, Jared has worked for multiple large enterprises and run MSP and IT consulting firms.

Published Wednesday, February 28, 2018 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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