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Essential components and tools of server monitoring

Server capacity management requires a list of infrastructure components to watch and the right tools. A workflow with these concepts ensures uptime and helps usage predictions.

Though server capacity management is an essential part of data center operations, it can be a challenge to figure out which components to monitor and what tools are available. How you address server monitoring can change depending on what type of infrastructure you run within your data center, as virtualized architecture requirements differ from on-premises processing needs.

With the capacity management tools available today, you can monitor and optimize servers in real time. Monitoring tools keep you updated on resource usage and automatically allocate resources between appliances to ensure continuous system uptime.

For a holistic view of your infrastructure, capacity management software should monitor these server components to some degree. Tracking these components can help you troubleshoot issues and predict any potential changes in processing requirements.

CPU. Because CPUs handle basic logic and I/O operations, as well as route commands for other components in the server, they're always in use. High CPU usage can indicate an issue with the CPU, but more likely it's a sign that the issue is with a connected component. Above 70% utilization applications on the server can become sluggish or stop responding.

Memory. High memory usage can result from multiple concurrent applications, but a faulty process that's usually less resource-intensive may cause additional issues. The memory hardware component itself rarely fails, but you should investigate performance when its usage rates rise.

Storage area network. SAN component issues can occur at several points, including connection cabling, host bus adapters, switches and the storage servers themselves. A single SAN server can host data for multiple applications and often span multiple physical sites, which leads to significant business effects if any component fails.

Server disk capacity. Storage disks help alleviate storage issues and reduce bottlenecks for data storage with the right amount of capacity. Problems can arise when more users access the same application that uses a particular storage location, or if a resource-intensive process is located on a server not designed for the application. If you can't increase disk capacity, you can monitor it and investigate when rates rise, so you can optimize future usage.

Storage I/O rates. You should also monitor storage I/O rates. Bottlenecks and high I/O rates can indicate a variety of issues, including CPU problems, disk capacity limitations, process bugs and hardware failure.

Physical temperatures of servers. Another vital component to monitor is server temperatures. Data centers are cooled to prevent any hardware component problems, but temperatures can increase for a variety of reasons: HVAC failure, internal server hardware failure (CPU, RAM or motherboard), external hardware failure (switches and cabling) or a software failure (firmware bug or application process issues).

OS, firmware and server applications. The entire server software stack must work together to ensure optimal usage (Basic I/O System, OS, hypervisors, drivers and applications.) Failed regular updates could lead to issues for the server, any hosted applications, faulty stakeholder user experience or downtime.

Streamline reporting with software tools

Most server monitoring software tracks and notifies you of any issues with servers in your technology stack. They include default and custom component monitoring, automated and manual optimization features, and standard and custom alerting options.

The software sector for server monitoring covers all types of architectures as well as required depth and breadth of data collection. Here is a shortlist of server capacity monitoring software for your data center.

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor
SolarWinds' software provides monitoring, optimization and diagnostic tools in a central hub. You can quickly identify which server resources are at capacity in real time, use historical reporting to track trends and forecast resource purchasing. Additional functions let you diagnose and fix virtual and physical storage capacity bottlenecks that affect application health and performance.

HelpSystems Vityl Capacity Management
Vityl Capacity Management is a comprehensive capacity management offering that makes it easy for organizations to proactively manage performance and do capacity planning in hybrid IT setups. It provides real-time monitoring data and historical trend reporting, which helps you understand the health and performance of your network over time.

BMC Software TrueSight Capacity Optimization
The TrueSight Capacity Optimization product helps admins plan, manage and optimize on-premises and cloud server resources through real-time and predictive features. It provides insights into multiple network types (physical, virtual or cloud) and helps you manage and forecast server usage.

VMware Capacity Planner
As a planning tool, VMware's Capacity Planner can gather and analyze data about your servers and better forecast future usage. The forecasting and prediction functionality provides insights on capacity usage trends, as well as virtualization benchmarks based on industry performance standards.

Splunk App for Infrastructure
The Splunk App for Infrastructure (SAI) is an all-in-one tool that uses streamlined workflows and advanced alerting to monitor all network components. With SAI, you can create custom visualizations and alerts for better real-time monitoring and reporting through metric grouping and filtering based on your data center and reporting needs.

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