Guy’s Best Practice Ezine 149 – Performance Monitoring

Guy’s Best Practice Ezine 149 – Performance Monitoring

As you watch the Olympic Games, you may ponder on how to adapt its famous ideal of Citius, Altius, and Fortius to your network.  I suggest your mantra could be: faster response, higher throughput and stronger network performance.  How would you achieve such a goal?  Why through performance monitoring.

If you play sport yourself then I expect that you are looking for an edge over the opposition, maybe a bat which hits further, or a glove with better grip.  Well, you can combine business with pleasure and play network games such as, find the bottleneck, maximise resources, and make cost-nothing improvements.  The secret of winning the server battle is to get a good performance analyzer such as ipMonitor.

What I find from mixing with computer techies is that many of them would love to be a champion of performance monitoring.  IT managers want to identify servers with a shortage of RAM.  They love planning how they can redistribute services to achieve better load balancing amongst their servers.  It makes their day if they can design performance monitoring which identifies why the network is running slower than previously.

Guy’s MissionipMonitor

Regular readers know that I love a mission.  Nothing gives me greater pleasure than getting people started on a fresh challenge.  This week I want to give you a thinking man’s guide to monitoring a server’s performance.  The person I have in mind is someone who has flirted with the Windows built-in tool perfmon, but would like to try a better and easier utility such as ipMonitor.

Solarwinds ipMonitor

 What attracted me to ipMonitor was its bank of red, orange or green lights which indicate the status of each resource on each server, it’s like I imagine mission control at Houston.  What you have to see for your self is the mind-blowing level of extra detail; just double click on the icons and drill down to see the performance of resources such as memory, CPU, disk.  You can also remotely monitor hardware, for example, fan, temperature and battery.

One key benefit of the console is that you don’t have to remember thresholds for when available memory is critical, or when CPU utilization is abnormally high, ipMonitor sets the counters automatically.  And yes you can change values once you know what you are doing.  What’s more, you don’t realize how much you are learning about the operating system, the hardware and their dependencies.

Those with experience of configuring SNMP public communities, and setting ‘Destination Traps’ will take to ipMonitor like ducks to water.  My challenge is to help those with little knowledge of SNMP and MIBs to get up and running with this classy utility.  See the Solarwinds Orion family.

Guy’s 1st Law of Installation.

Any company who says, ‘Our software is the world’s easiest to install’ – lies.  The corollary is also interesting; anyone who tells you a program is hard to install makes you want to prove them wrong, and you can’t wait to put them straight with, ‘That install was a piece of cake’.

With Solarwinds ipMonitor Guy’s position is this, ipMonitor is easy to install, but only if you do these three things:
  1) Install SNMP on the servers
  2) Suss out the ‘Credentials’
  3) Read the ‘Getting Started’ section of SolarWinds’ help file.

Download your free copy of ipMonitor

True DiagnosisIdeas to develop your performance intuition.

Memory, the true cause, often masquerades as a disk problem because memory shortage cause lots of paging to disk.  Performance Monitoring is not an area to ‘throw money at’.  Take a customer of Mad Mick’s.  Their machine was running slowly, lots of disk activity, so they bought new faster disks.  Did it cure their problem?  No, it turned out that the office Psycho had taken a memory SIMM out of the server and put it his own desktop.

Time for a digression, why might you need this performance monitoring skill?  My reply is to develop your intuition for finding and removing network bottlenecks.  To help you answer questions such as, which servers needs more memory?  What cost-nothing tactics can I implement, for example, move that processor hungry application to another server.  Also, get into the habit of asking smart questions such as, ‘How come other companies of our size don’t have a slow network?’  Ah ha, they use packet switches, whereas we just have a router.

The bottom line for performance monitoring is that it warns you that a storm is brewing on your network, and moreover, it helps you solve the crisis before your nemesis ‘Psycho’ is on your back – again.

Eddie’s Bizarre Assignment

I have an acquaintance called ‘Barking Eddie’ when we meet he always has an interesting tale to tell about his computer consultancy project.  However, because Eddie is also a good poker player, I can never tell when he is bluffing.  (Eddie comes from Barking, Essex, England, although some of us think he really is barking mad.)  Anyway, this is the gist of what he told me about a recent consultancy job.

A multi-national company based in Birmingham, England discovered that their office in Kano City, Nigeria, was the most efficient in their entire organization.  Downtime was non-existent, and their support manager won the award for the fewest user complaints two years in a row. 

Yet the CEO’s instinct was that his British team was the best, and he just could not understand how the Nigerian system could produce better stats than his crack team at HQ.  So he hired Eddie to analyse the secret of Kano’s success. 

As luck would have it Eddie started monitoring the remote Nigerian network in December.  When Eddie got around to analyzing the data in January he was amazed that the server data for Christmas Day was the same as for early December.  He had to check that they really did celebrate Christmas in Kano Nigeria.  The answer was they did – big time.

Eddie could only come up with one conclusion, the Nigerian operation was a phantom workforce, or at least, one that did not use the Kano regional headquarters.  Indeed, a private detective discovered that someone had setup ghost personnel records and was siphoning off 72 salaries into a Cayman Island bank account.  Thanks to Eddie and his performance monitoring a serious fraud was unearthed. 

Naturally, the company are embarrassed how two or three people could disguise the fact that 75 people appeared to be working in one of their offices, but they gave Eddie a handsome payoff to keep the details under wraps.  The only reason that I tend to believe Eddie’s account is that when he told us the story he bought two rounds of drinks, the first time that’s happened in living memory.

Footnote  The word ‘Nigeria’ was blocked by the spam control on my Autoresponder, it took me 24hrs to suss it out, and this is why the ezine is one day late.

Guy Recommends: Tools4ever’s UMRAUMRA The User Management Resource Administrator

Tired of writing scripts? The User Management Resource Administrator solution by Tools4ever offers an alternative to time-consuming manual processes.

It features 100% auto provisioning, Helpdesk Delegation, Connectors to more than 130 systems/applications, Workflow Management, Self Service and many other benefits. Click on the link for more information onUMRA.


I don’t want to miss a chance to emphasise how much fun ipMonitor is to use.  Many of us welcome the chance of breaking free from mundane tasks such as changing users’ passwords, testing backups.  Now somebody in your organization should be saving money by maximising resources.  Analyzing and configuring your network is just that chance to undertake a satisfying job which needs doing, but probably nobody in your organization knows how to tackle properly. 

I maybe losing business as a consultant here, but its much better for organizations to build-up internal expertise in performance monitoring than higher external consultants. 

ipMonitor will transform a good amateur into a top professional.  Download your evaluation copy of ipMonitor

Will and Guy’s Humour

This week Will and Guy bring youfunny animal road signs

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