5 questions to ask your server monitoring service provider
Imagine that you are in the midst of an Ad-campaign and is dependent too much on e-mails. What if your mail server suddenly goes down and it majorly affects your business? Obviously, you’d be frustrated.
Server uptime is therefore, always the utmost priority in web hosting services. A single prolonged server downtime is sufficient to throw you out of your business. To stay competitive in business, you’ve to ensure 99.99% uptime to your customers.
A 99.99% uptime means a total of not more than 54.84 minutes of downtime in a year. As anything from a network issue to a bad hard drive can lead to a downtime, having an effective server monitoring service is vital to ensure this uptime.
Monitoring a web server essentially means alerting the server owner about the status of a service. Some server owners prefer to do it on their own, where a software checks the service status and notifies the owner if some service goes down.
But monitoring servers on your own comes with its sets of drawbacks, such as:
- You need to be on your toes 24/7, which can cause you so much stress.
- You’d lose the valuable time you need to focus on your business growth.
- When the magnitude of servers or alerts are high, it would be difficult to manage.
- You may find it hard to stay updated about all the security and service aspects.
That’s why it is beneficial to outsource server monitoring services to an expert server management company, who would help you care for your servers 24/7 and enables you to provide 99.99% uptime to your customers.
In our role as Outsourced Tech Support for web hosts, we assist web hosts in providing the promised website uptime to their customers, by implementing efficient server monitoring systems for them.
While choosing the server monitoring services, here are the 5 key questions you’d need them to address for you, so as to gain an assurance about the effectiveness of the system:
- How do you detect 100% server issues?
- How will they coordinate with the data center to maintain server uptime?
- Would you be alerted if something goes wrong in your servers?
- How would they prevent the server monitoring systems from crying wolf?
- Why should you choose them for server monitoring services?
Today, we’ll discuss each of these points one by one and see how we address it for our customers.
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1) How effectively are the servers monitored?
What is monitored? How do you monitor? How often you monitor? – these are some major concerns server owners usually have. Here’s what determines the effectiveness of any server monitoring services.
a. Which all services are monitored?
Well, it depends on what you promise to your customers. Ideally every server you have should be monitored, every service you use, along with the network and every domain name you own.
But going so much in depth requires time and effort and costs much, so it is sufficient that all the critical services and most important websites in the servers are monitored.
Bobcares’ expert server technicians configure custom alerts for each server, based on the importance of the services running in it. We monitor all critical services such as SSH, Web, DNS, MySQL, Mail, etc. in addition to parameters such as server load and disk usage.
b. How are the servers monitored?
There are a lot of monitoring tools available in the market, prominent open source ones being Zabbix and Nagios. If your server goes down for more than a certain interval of time, you should receive a message about the problem.
The choice of monitoring system is done based on the type of reports required and the resource usage of these tools. At Bobcares, we setup various server monitoring tools for our customers.
We have an alternate internal tracking system to not miss out any server incidents. We also configure notifications in other additional channels such as mobile or group chats, for highly critical incidents.
c. How often are the servers checked?
In a 24/7 monitoring system, the services are checked at regular frequencies. But these checks shouldn’t be too frequent that it causes overhead to the server, or not too far-flung, that by the time you check the server, it is already down.
Our 24/7 expert team monitors our customers’ servers at constant intervals, and we set the frequency of each server check based on the type of service and its relevance, without overloading the servers.
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2) How we coordinate with your data center to maintain server uptime
When you get your servers monitored remotely, you don’t have to be physically available 24/7 near your servers or pay a huge cost to get that done. By outsourcing server monitoring services to experts, you can get effective monitoring done at low costs.
But a concern that arises for server owners would be, how to resolve issues without having physical access to servers. Most service related issues, when detected promptly, can be resolved with remote access.
Even server reboots can be done remotely via server management interfaces like IPMI. In some rare cases, when we need physical examination of the server done, we co-ordinate with the data center staff via their preferred communication channel.
At Bobcares, our techs are equipped to communicate via all major channels for support – email, chat, phone and SMS, which enables us to interact with the onsite staff promptly and work together as a team to get the servers back in action without much downtime.
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3) Would you be alerted if something goes wrong in your servers?
You wouldn’t want to be woken up at odd hours to know that your server load is high. At the same time, you should be aware of the major events that are happening in your servers.
The server specialists team at Bobcares promptly resolves a server incident within a couple of minutes, without troubling the customers. We also provide notifications and updates to our customers regarding the major incidents and actions we’ve taken.
Before starting the support service, we collect the specific guidelines from our customers. For web hosts who require immediate notifications or specific procedures, our team ensures that those instructions are followed without fail.
4) How we prevent server monitoring systems from crying wolf
Ever found it frustrating that your monitoring system alerts you in the middle of the night with a false service down alert? Ever found it difficult to trust the monitoring system alerts because of the network issues in your NOC?
At Bobcares, we prevent invalid server alerts using distributed monitoring. The main aim of distributed monitoring is to produce the exact result of server service checks with the help of distributed, central monitoring servers and to avoid incorrect information.
Some times due to the network problems at NOC, services will show as down, though they are not. In the distributed monitoring system, we setup the monitoring system in central, distributed servers with proper modification in the configuration files.
The central server sends the notification mails and others will not. So we get the exact result instead of invalid one. We also audit the server alerts regularly and tweak the monitoring system to wade off invalid alerts.
5) What do server owners gain from our server monitoring service?
Monitoring the servers can solve many issues which causes headaches for both the sysadmins and the customers. By regularly monitoring the servers, you are making sure that none of the services in server are down and as a result the problems will be very less.
Over our 15+ years of experience in web hosting support industry, we’ve understood that many server problems occur due to service failures, load surge and system crashes, majority of which can be avoided by implementing effective monitoring systems.
Having an expert team to monitor your servers and proactively manage them, would reduce your workload by half and spares you off all the headaches of handling broken servers and frustrated customers.
[ We’ve been able to prevent server incidents by up to 15% by using our proactive server management (click here to see how we improve web hosting support). ]