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VMblog's Expert Interviews: LogicMonitor Talks Full Stack Monitoring, Trends and Futures

interview logicmonitor 

Just ahead of VMworld, I was able to catch up with Steve Francis, founder and chief evangelist at LogicMonitor, to learn more about the company's monitoring solution, challenges facing today's enterprise organizations, industry trends and more.

VMblog:  To kick the conversation off, can you give me an idea of how LogicMonitor works in the enterprise?

Steve Francis:  LogicMonitor was conceived as a platform for SaaS companies - our initial market approach didn't even consider enterprises.  However, it turns out the solution we provide - providing comprehensive, automated monitoring for everything in a datacenter, delivered through a SaaS platform, without requiring your best engineers to run or configure the monitoring  - resonates very much with Enterprises.  So we've had a variety of large enterprises come across us and deploy us, such as ZenDesk, Nielsen, and Pacific Life Insurance.

But to answer what you meant - LogicMonitor works in the enterprise like people hope their monitoring systems would work, but never do. Our SaaS based, agentless architecture means it's very quick to deploy and be up and running, without requiring any infrastructure. Our built in automation and knowledge about what to monitor mean the monitoring is always current with the state of the devices and doesn't reduce the agility of your dev teams. Our elegant UI means that you don't need to centralize control to an expert monitoring group. Our analytics mean that you can extract meaning from your data, and easily identify anomalies amongst hundreds of systems. And our flexibility means that you can extend the monitoring to your custom business metrics, getting only the right alerts to the right people, by the right mechanisms, at the right time.

VMblog:  What does it mean when you talk about "full stack" monitoring?

Francis:  It really means considering the business use of the IT infrastructure, not the discrete functions. For example, an enterprise may be running a customer-facing application that consists of a load balancer, several front end web servers running on VMware, and a database. "Full stack" monitoring means monitoring all the components both vertically and horizontally.

So, that means you need to monitor the chassis of the VMware server for hardware issues such as a power supply failed. You also need to monitor the hypervisor, to alert on things like CPU contention. But you also need to monitor the virtual machines, the web servers on the VMs, and so on. Everything on all devices, from physical up to the application layer. That's one definition of full stack.

However, in order to get a view of your infrastructure as it relates to its business function, you also need to monitor the load balancer, the storage array containing the datastore, the fiber channel switches, and the database performance, so you can see their performance together.

Having point monitoring tools looking at all these components individually has been shown to result in more outage incidents, and to make time to repair longer. Compare that to a tool that can provide visibility into the full stack, and show you all the components at once - it will be much quicker to identify the real cause of an issue.

VMblog:  What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing enterprises today, and how is monitoring helping to alleviate them?

Francis:  Enterprises are dealing with the velocity of changes going on in the technical space, and it's not an easy issue. It's a good challenge - the faster the enterprise can deliver and iterate on applications, the more quickly they learn, and can start to reveal and harness value.

But there's a lot of complexity in trying to manage change - not just technologies, like Docker and the cloud, but organizationally - DevOps, and so forth. How do you get your engineering teams to release faster, without sacrificing quality, or performance, or the relationship with the ops teams?

Well, one thing to consider is to make sure your monitoring doesn't impede the velocity of your teams.

If you have a nice process aligning dev and ops, you will likely be able to release quicker - but if production releases are delayed by the need to get new servers or containers or cloud resources into monitoring, and that is a manual task, it negates a lot of the value you get from your agility. You need a monitoring system that can be automated and integrated into the tools you use.

VMblog:  What applications or trends are you seeing the most right now?

Francis:  Two related trends - enterprises are really diving head first into enterprise transformation initiatives, and it is driving a lot of change - cloud adoption, DevOps, adopting SaaS where they can for non-core applications, and also new technologies like Kafka and containers. And then the realization comes that they've just shifted the bottleneck - they've improved things, but in order to get the full benefit of the agility that all the new technologies and processes they've adopted can enable, they have to remove other bottlenecks. Monitoring is often one of the bottlenecks, but container and cloud resource orchestration is the bigger, more impactful change. The rapid adoption and evolution of tools like Terraform and Kubernetes to automate even further and maximize software development agility is compelling.

VMblog:  What's in the future for monitoring, and what can we look forward to?

Francis:  Monitoring will have to ride along with the transformation and automation/orchestration waves. Monitoring is essential to production systems, and that is the way they are going, so monitoring will necessarily move that way too. LogicMonitor is releasing tight integrations with Kubernetes, for example, so as the orchestration systems create or move resources, the monitoring is updated.  

The job of monitoring, like the rest of IT, is to advance the business' goals. Monitoring in the future will deal with objects coming and going as part of services. The services will expose a lot of application specific data, but the underlying health of infrastructure and supporting software (storage arrays, container hosts, operating systems, etc.) will always be vital. Then a challenge will be to extract meaning from all the data, and deliver only the issues that are meaningful and actionable to people at the right time via the right method. Machine learning may have a part to play here - less likely in production, because assuming you remediate and do a proper post mortem on incidents, they shouldn't be repeated. This removes patterns that ML can be trained on. Earlier in the development cycle, however, monitoring can alert you to issues in releases. Serving a web page used to take two database requests. Now it takes 10. Identifying deviations in performance between production and dev code and determining whether they are significant is going to be an increasingly important role of monitoring as development agility increases.

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Published Monday, August 07, 2017 7:24 AM by David Marshall
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