|By Leon Fayer||
|July 27, 2012 12:00 PM EDT||
I've talked at length about the importance of business process monitoring alongside of system monitoring, but in discussions I found that sometimes an overview and simple examples are not enough to convince people about the benefits of this approach. Business owners think they don't need to know anything about the operational performance of their systems as long as they have their numbers, and engineers often don't feel they need to invest time into understanding the business they are supporting in detail, finding examples shown too "common sense."
One question we ask our engineers during an interview at work is to describe the process of how they would go about troubleshooting a hypothetical issue, given only the minimum information. We often hear from our clients things like, "our website is slow" and "something's wrong with registration" with no additional information, and in order to figure out the potential issue we need to review the whole system at a glance. For large applications, with a myriad of moving and interweaving components, this is not an easy task. This is one of the reasons we are looking for best of the best. But if you are monitoring all of those components, in a lot of cases, the task can be simplified.
So let's examine a real problem. A large e-commerce company called and said that they are seeing less money coming in from web transactions. They have a pretty complex system with a lot of different revenue generation points, so this observation shed very little light on the root cause of the problem. Luckily, both systems and business processes were being monitored with Circonus, so the data was available to review.
As any engineer knows - step one of troubleshooting the problem is to confirm the problem, so looking at the revenue trends seemed like a good starting point.
The graph clearly shows that, starting around April 30th, the trend looked abnormal in comparison to the previous few weeks. So it seemed like there was an actual problem, and potentially, the issue could lie in payment processor itself or somewhere in the system, preventing certain users from making a purchase. So let's overlay the traffic trends, collected from Google Analytics, against revenue graph and see if there are any common trends.
Even though the traffic showed a clear drop at the same time as revenue, the ratio remained the same, allowing us to exclude payment processor and other application logic from the equation (for now).
Note: This is the first potential breaking point in the process. It is very tempting to look at the ratios, attribute revenue decrease to traffic decrease, and stop the investigation. 99% of the time, unfortunately, nothing "just" happens, so on we go.
Now for the next step - what would be a logical cause for a drop in overall traffic to the site? Response time is probably the first thought that should come to mind. So let's look at what the HTTP checks collected.
Load times didn't seem to be deviating from the norm, but the HTTP response metric doesn't provide full visibility into the load times for a dynamic application, so let's check the health of the database and CPU usage on the server(s), to validate that the underlying platform is not the bottleneck. There are numerous metrics to monitor database and system health that should be, and in this case, are collected, but when researching the root cause of the elusive problem, diving deep into a specific component can waste time early in the process.
Both of the metrics appear well within norm, so at first glance, it seems like the problem is not a systems issue.
Note: This is the second point of the investigation where the process can break down. A lot of technologists will either report that there is no confirmation to the problem reported; the reported problem is just an anomaly because the system monitors don't exhibit any issues. This is exactly why understanding of the business by the technology team is vital.
With that said, what would be the next logical process to validate? It is not uncommon for an e-commerce site to see a drop in purchases if they either stop promoting or if their marketing campaign is ineffective: traffic to the site slows down, subsequently decreasing the number of transactions. This company, in particular, sends out tens of millions of emails a day which bring in new users, and subsequently, new conversions. So let's take a look at the email deliverability and bounce rates collected from the company's MTAs.
Bingo! The bounce rates sky rocketed at the same time as the drop in traffic and revenue stream occurred. Upon closer investigation, it appeared that one of the major ESPs accidentally blocked the delivery domain, and the emails did not go through to the recipients. The issue was resolved (after some discussions with the ESP) and the trends returned back to the expected level.
Keep in mind, if email deliverability was not the issue - there are multiple other metrics that were on a list to be verified, both system (operational and development alike) and business. The amazing part of all of this is that I was able to view the whole system at a glance in just one graph. Granted, stacking everything on one graph is probably not the most optimal every day approach, but it is very useful in a certain cases when the direct overlay correlation is needed. For everything else - a real-time dashboard that displays all the vital points of the business at any given moment is a must-have for anyone responsible for business and/or system health.
Everyone responsible for the success of a business, regardless of the role, needs an ability to see the status of the whole business at a glance at any given point. System engineers don't need to know all the ins and out of marketing, but they should be aware of the overall organizational goals, and should be able to spot irregularities in the business trends. Similarly, CEOs don't need to know how systems work in the background, but should be able to correlate high email bounce rates (if it's critical to the business) to a decrease in purchases.
The point of all of this is that everything should be monitored, and to suggest some tools and methods that can enable users in all roles--within any organization--to ensure the success of the business. Get ‘em, learn 'em, use 'em! You will thank me later.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Apr. 29, 2016 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,186
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
Apr. 29, 2016 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 433
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
Apr. 29, 2016 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,400
Manufacturers are embracing the Industrial Internet the same way consumers are leveraging Fitbits – to improve overall health and wellness. Both can provide consistent measurement, visibility, and suggest performance improvements customized to help reach goals. Fitbit users can view real-time data and make adjustments to increase their activity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mark Bernardo Professional Services Leader, Americas, at GE Digital, will discuss how leveraging the Industrial Interne...
Apr. 29, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,095
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Apr. 29, 2016 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 966
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
Apr. 29, 2016 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 795
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
Apr. 29, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 575
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
Apr. 29, 2016 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 572
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...
Apr. 29, 2016 08:30 AM EDT Reads: 574
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
Apr. 29, 2016 05:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,403
SYS-CON Events announced today TMCnet has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) is the world's leading business-to-business and integrated marketing media company, servicing niche markets within the com...
Apr. 29, 2016 04:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,344
The IoT has the potential to create a renaissance of manufacturing in the US and elsewhere. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Florent Solt, CTO and chief architect of Netvibes, will discuss how the expected exponential increase in the amount of data that will be processed, transported, stored, and accessed means there will be a huge demand for smart technologies to deliver it. Florent Solt is the CTO and chief architect of Netvibes. Prior to joining Netvibes in 2007, he co-founded Rift Technol...
Apr. 28, 2016 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,487
Join IBM June 8 at 18th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn how to innovate like a startup and scale for the enterprise. You need to deliver quality applications faster and cheaper, attract and retain customers with an engaging experience across devices, and seamlessly integrate your enterprise systems. And you can't take 12 months to do it.
Apr. 28, 2016 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,740
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
Apr. 28, 2016 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,628
IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...
Apr. 28, 2016 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,374
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, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
Apr. 28, 2016 02:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,568
The paradigm has shifted. A Gartner survey shows that 43% of organizations are using or plan to implement the Internet of Things in 2016. However, not just a handful of companies are still using the old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways, unaware of the critical barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can you become a winner? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan will present a methodical approach to guide the holistic adoption and enablement of IoT implementations. This ov...
Apr. 28, 2016 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,514
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
Apr. 28, 2016 12:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,465
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
Apr. 28, 2016 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,615
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
Apr. 28, 2016 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 733