An Introduction to Uptime Monitoring Solutions and Methods for Cloud Services
As a SaaS or other cloud-based production team, you may often struggle with creating the right infrastructure to optimize your production cycle and improve service levels. Because cloud services are used around the clock, production environments need to run 24/7, with service providers expected to be responsive at all times. This condition requires teams to work smart, not hard when it comes to the production environment by automating many of its processes. Uptime monitoring is one of those very important measurements that help you do a better job at monitoring the quality of your services, but what is uptime monitoring exactly?
Catching a Bird’s Eye View of Your Services
Uptime monitoring is a method that helps you get a bird’s eye view of your online services, and involves monitoring a collection of metrics and measurements relevant to a specific business. If, for example, you provide cloud-based services on the web, like many SaaS companies do, then your customers must have access at any given time. In this situation, what could be the worst outcome? That your online services go down. In the world of uptime monitoring, there are only two states—uptime and downtime. Uptime is when your online services are up and running, and downtime means they are unavailable.
Since customers experiencing downtime will be detrimental for your customer success rate, you must take the necessary precautions to decrease potential downtime. From the number of times that services are temporarily unavailable to the amount of time it takes for your team to get them up and running again, uptime monitoring makes sure that downtime scenarios can both be minimized and mitigated. The less often customers encounter downtime, the more they will value your service levels and continue to trust that your platform meets their needs.
In short, uptime monitoring enables you to track your services’ customer availability through “the 3 M’s”, namely:
● Monitoring — Live traces and logs the services’ up- and downtime statuses
● Minimization — Instantly informs providers so that they become aware
● Mitigation — Enables providers to intervene fast and return services
One Control Center for Service Uptime
While traditional uptime monitoring is for in-house infrastructure, uptime monitoring for cloud services requires a slightly different approach. Originally, uptime monitoring is done by an external, third-party tracking solution which looks at a customer’s local network performance. If any downtime occurs, it picks up on it and immediately escalates the issue to enable the fastest response time possible. Think of it like an “error police” patrolling customers on-site. If customers’ networks fail, they can no longer use the services installed on local data centers.
On the other hand, uptime monitoring for cloud services is handled directly—meaning, by you, the service provider.Cloud service providers offer a basic array of monitoring but that is not enough to get a complete view of your uptime monitoring. Service availability depends not only on the performance of your data center, but also on the combination of several data points such as logs, traces, and your application performance metrics. Monitoring doesn’t need to be implemented as an external watchdog to your customers’ premises. Now, you only have to manage one control center in order to monitor all customers’ service uptime.
How to Apply Uptime Monitoring to Cloud Infrastructure
Given how uptime monitoring for cloud environments needs to be implemented from within, it is crucial to involve the teams who are maintaining your production infrastructure. These are, typically, your DevOps engineers, NOC engineers, and other technical staff who are on duty 24/7. Introducing them to the concept of uptime monitoring and allowing them to explore solutions for implementation are the first steps to ensuring that the customer experience you provide is ongoing and continuous. There are two important activities in uptime monitoring your teams will be responsible for:
- Handling issues as quickly as possible as they occur
- Taking preventive measures to detect potential issues before they happen, and prevent them altogether
The next steps include looking at the flipside of uptime monitoring. Not only do you want to implement the best uptime monitoring solutions, but you also want to verify that the services you provide are not prone to going through downtime as much as possible. This is typically handled by the same teams at your company, so that you can train them into specialists who act as gatekeepers of your services’ overall availability.