Velocity 2012 Postmortem

2012-06-29 16:23:23 by jdixon

This week I traveled out west for my first Velocity conference as an attendee. I went out two years ago but I was so busy juggling exhibitor duties that I didn't get to enjoy any hallway networking or formal session. This year I went in with plans to catch as many sessions as possible, particularly those skewed towards monitoring, trending and operations workflow. As expected, I skipped quite a few talks but made up for it with a lot of quality time catching up with peers and reviewing new technologies (and philosophies) in the DevOps space.

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Why Big Monitoring Software Sucks

2012-06-20 17:21:47 by jdixon

There are a ton of open-source and commercial monitoring tools available, so why do we claim that monitoring sucks? Certainly there are some usable tools out there; without them our systems would be even more unpredictable and unreliable than they already are. So what makes one tool sticky where others get tried and tossed aside?

Systems Administrators (and Engineers) are a finicky bunch. We prefer to build complex systems from small, sharp instruments rather than fight with larger, malleable (read: monolithic) software. There's a reason why Pingdom and Pager Duty are enormously popular among technically agile businesses. Cost is only a small part of the equation; these customers understand (implicitly, if not explicitly) that combining these small, sharp tools into a series of logically connected functions (fault detection, notifications and historical trending) is much easier than breaking apart an Enterprise-Ready monitoring suite and coercing it to meet their unique needs.

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Watching the Carbon Feed

2012-06-01 11:40:25 by jdixon

This is one of my most favorite, and certainly most underappreciated graphs. Its simplicity belies its usefulness. This single chart gives me a holistic view of our metrics feed, writes to Whisper files, as well as general system health. At a glance I can correlate slow updates caused by a spike in Whisper file creations or a backup resulting in a higher PPU value. We use some of its targets with Nagios to monitor for metric feed issues. And it's always the first place I look whenever there's a whiff of Graphite problems.

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