|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.
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Dec. 11, 2016 12:00 AM EST Reads: 1,111
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
Dec. 11, 2016 12:00 AM EST Reads: 2,393
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and sh...
Dec. 11, 2016 12:00 AM EST Reads: 909
In IT, we sometimes coin terms for things before we know exactly what they are and how they’ll be used. The resulting terms may capture a common set of aspirations and goals – as “cloud” did broadly for on-demand, self-service, and flexible computing. But such a term can also lump together diverse and even competing practices, technologies, and priorities to the point where important distinctions are glossed over and lost.
Dec. 10, 2016 11:45 PM EST Reads: 1,796
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 10, 2016 11:15 PM EST Reads: 1,219
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of Soli...
Dec. 10, 2016 10:15 PM EST Reads: 2,073
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 10, 2016 09:15 PM EST Reads: 1,355
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
Dec. 10, 2016 07:30 PM EST Reads: 1,821
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...
Dec. 10, 2016 07:00 PM EST Reads: 4,158
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
Dec. 10, 2016 06:30 PM EST Reads: 1,036
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Dec. 10, 2016 06:30 PM EST Reads: 1,973
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
Dec. 10, 2016 06:30 PM EST Reads: 1,551
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Dec. 10, 2016 06:15 PM EST Reads: 1,099
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 10, 2016 05:30 PM EST Reads: 1,012
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Dec. 10, 2016 05:15 PM EST Reads: 1,428
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Dec. 10, 2016 04:30 PM EST Reads: 1,842
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Dec. 10, 2016 04:30 PM EST Reads: 1,933
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to 'DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017' as Conference Chair The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great t...
Dec. 10, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 942
"At ROHA we develop an app called Catcha. It was developed after we spent a year meeting with, talking to, interacting with senior citizens watching them use their smartphones and talking to them about how they use their smartphones so we could get to know their smartphone behavior," explained Dave Woods, Chief Innovation Officer at ROHA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 10, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 950
"Venafi has a platform that allows you to manage, centralize and automate the complete life cycle of keys and certificates within the organization," explained Gina Osmond, Sr. Field Marketing Manager at Venafi, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 10, 2016 02:45 PM EST Reads: 1,274