HOWTO guide for APM Cloud Monitor performance monitoring
The Purpose of this HOWTO guide:
This HOWTO guide will get you started with APM Cloud Monitor performance monitoring. It will guide you step-by-step, through the main settings and reporting pages.
What will you learn?
You will learn to:
- navigate the APM Cloud Monitor console pages
- create alert contacts and escalation groups
- set up your monitoring definitions (monitoring rules)
- interpret monitoring results in the reports
- define custom email reports
- update your preferences (language/ checkpoints ect.)
For who is this HOWTO intended?
This HOWTO is written for anyone using the APM Cloud Monitor performance monitoring service, either as a free trial subscription or as part of a monitoring package. (Note: This guide does not cover advanced topics or services other than APM Cloud Monitor performance monitoring).
Before you start...
Make sure to have the following details:
- A list of the web pages and on-line services that are going to be monitored e.g. your corporate home page and/or other important web pages, API services, web site application transactions, DNS queries, and email server checks.
- A list of email addresses, mobile phone numbers, and instant messaging screen names, for the people in your organisation who are to receive alerts and/or (SLA) reports.
The 7 Easy Steps to Performance Monitoring...
STEP 1: Logging in and updating your profile
ENTER your account by using the 'LOGIN' button in the top right hand corner of cloudmonitor.ca.com When you login for the first time, your account is activated. Please take a minute to complete the account details form.
Note: Your login credentials (email and password) can be found in the confirmation email you received when you signed up for a APM Cloud Monitor account. If you have lost these details you can request a password resend by clicking the 'forgot password?' link in the 'LOGIN' area. If you don't have an account and would like a 30 day free trial, sign up at cloudmonitor.ca.com/trial.
STEP 2: Navigation within the APM Cloud Monitor site. Using Dashboards
The website is structured in a logical and simple way. All related tasks are grouped within a "Dashboard". Every "Dashboard" contains tabs, organised to help you navigate and complete your tasks quickly and easily. The Dashboards menu is the black boxed menu at the right side of the home page. Available "Dashboards" and the underlying tabs are:
- Monitoring : Within this "Dashboard" you can set up your monitors and have a close look at the checks performed on your websites.
- Performance chart: An overview of your monitors on an hourly basis.
- Current Status: A complete overview of the status of your servers.
- Graphs: Data about the performance of your sites in a single view.
- Log Files: Detailed information for each check.
- Monitors: Set up any type of checks on your server or website.
- Tags: Assign text labels to organise your monitors.
- Contacts: Create alert contacts and escalation groups.
- Reports : Use this "Dashboard" to access all the logs of your monitoring checks, which are stored in the APM Cloud Monitor database.
- Custom reports: Set up a customised report.
- Contacts: Create alert contacts and escalation groups.
- Access: Give access to your log files and graphs.
- Download: Download all your reports.
- Message Log: A complete log of the messages sent to you and your contacts.
- Public status: Set up a public page to display your logs as well as any announcements or information you want.
- Tools: Within this "Dashboard" you will find a range of useful tools offered by APM Cloud Monitor.
- Check Host.
- DNS Analysis.
- Send Message: Send a message to one of the addresses or groups in your account.
- Account: This "Dashboard" enables you to manage your APM Cloud Monitor subscription and payments.
- Subscription: See information and also edit/change your current APM Cloud Monitor subscription.
- Account Details: Change your accounts details, and/or add a financial contact (for invoices).
- Preferences: Change your accounts preferences.
- Accounts: View your sub-accounts.
- Payment: See the balance of your account and insert you payment details.
- Recent Transactions: Check all your recent transactions with APM Cloud Monitor.
- Recent Invoices: Check all your recent APM Cloud Monitor invoices.
- Credits: Buy more credits and enhance your checks.
You can easily browse between "Dashboards" using the black colored drop-down menu on the right side of the tabs on each page.
The menu at the bottom of each page allows you to navigate to any page within the website using a single click. When hovering your mouse over the menu, the pages under that menu are displayed.
The "Settings" pages are covered in step 3 and 4 of this guide, the "Reports" pages in step 5 and 6 and, the "Subscription" and "Payment" pages in steps 7 and 8.
The "Products" pages contain information about all APM Cloud Monitor product groups, including pricing, free trials, demo's etc.
The "Tools" pages are home to some useful free tools. Make sure to try them out!
The "Help" pages are home to the APM Cloud Monitor helpdesk, your last resort for help.
You can also navigate the APM Cloud Monitor site using the sitemap and the search box, which is visible on all pages.
STEP 3: Create alert contacts and escalation groups
Now that you know how to move around, let's start with setting up your contacts. A contact should be entered for each individual (including yourself) and group, that needs to receive performance monitoring information. Contacts can receive information in the following formats:
- Alerts: SMS/text message alerts are sent when problems are detected
- Reports: PDF email reports contain detailed information about your systems' performance
- Internal messages: The group message tool can be used to send simultaneous messages to multiple contacts
The above APM Cloud Monitor information can be sent through different "channels", including:
- Text messages or SMS (not available in the free subscription)
- Action (URL)
Adding a contact is easy. Start by clicking the 'Contacts' tab in the 'Monitoring' Dashboard. Click on the 'new contact' button. Select the contact type (one of the 'channels' listed above) and provide the contacts actual address, e.g. an email address. Then, give the new contact a name. Choose a name which makes it easy for you to remember what it is e.g. "Jim's mobile", or "Mgmt Team Email".
You can define a working schedule for each contact. This is particularly useful if the channel is for alerts; so that alerts can be sent to a specific contact only during their working days/hours.
For SMS/text message contacts there is an additional step. After saving a SMS/text message contact, a confirmation code is sent to the specified mobile number. You need to enter it into the 'Confirmation code' field to activate the contact. (If no confirmation message is received within a few minutes, click the 'try other routes' button. This will generate a confirmation message from all the APM Cloud Monitor SMS gateways. The first message you recieve is the one you should use. If no message is received, make sure the mobile phone number is correct and then, contact the APM Cloud Monitor helpdesk).
A very useful alerting feature is the 'escalation group'. If persistent errors are detected, APM Cloud Monitor sends alerts to your escalation group. This feature ensure that if one individual is unavailable, other members of your organisation will be informed of persistent problems, giving you the chance to rectify issues before your customers encounter them. You may like to set up your escalation group to initially send alerts to technical support staff, followed by middle management and eventually your CTO.
When the first SMS/text message contact is defined an escalation group is automatically created. To create a new escalation group, click on the 'new group' button in the 'Contacts' overview page. Select the order in which you want alerts to be sent and after how many errors the contact should be alerted. Click the 'more' button to add additional contacts into an escalation group.
Ticking the 'Default contact' checkbox will make the contact or group the default contact. This means that this contact is pre-selected during the definition of monitoring rules.
STEP 4: Setting up your monitoring definitions (monitoring rules)
Monitors are used to perform certain type of checks ON your server or website. For instance, you can set the type of a rule to 'ping', if you want to check your servers availability across the network. Let's start adding some monitors.
Go to the 'Monitors' tab, in the 'Monitoring' Dashboard. Click the 'add rule' link. Start with an 'http' type rule, to checking on your website's uptime and performance. Begin by naming the rule. It is always useful to assign a name that will remind you of the specifics of this rule, so since you are creating an http rule, let's give it the name 'Website home page'. The next field is the 'type' of the rule. The available types are:
- connect: Checks if a TCP connection at the specified port is available.
- ping: Checks whether your server is reachable across the network.
- http: Checks the HTTP protocol response from your website.
- pop3: Checks if the POP (incoming mail) protocol is working on your server.
- smtp: Checks if the SMTP (outgoing email) protocol is working on your server.
- imap: Checks if the IMAP (email retrieval) protocol is working on your server.
- ftp: Checks the FTP protocol response from your server.
- ldap: Checks the LDAP protocol response from your server.
- scp: Checks the SCP protocol response from your server.
- plugin: Monitors your server behind a firewall.
- dns: Checks DNS servers.
- https: Checks responses from the https protocol, which is used on ssl-secured web sites.
- sip: Checks the SIP protocol which is used for multimedia communication sessions (VOIP, instant messaging etc.).
- script: Allows support for custom multi-step scripts and full page loads.
Note that not all types are available in all subscription packages.
To check your website uptime, select rule type 'http' from the drop down menu and add the address (URL) of your website e.g http://www.mysite.com/ or http://www.mysite.co.uk/index.html
You've now finished the required fields for a basic configuration. The other optional fields are:
- 'Match string': Use this if you want to check for specific text in your website or to check if your webpage generates what it should (error messages etc.). Simply fill in the text you would like to search for.
- 'Warn me': Use this drop down box to specify the conditions under which you wish to receive alerts. Your options are:
- after 2 consecutive errors
- after 3 consecutive errors
- after 4 consecutive errors
- after 5 consecutive errors
- 'Alert Contact': Select the contact who should be informed if problems are detected for this rule. Your subscription email is the default here but you can choose any of your contacts.
You can save your rule and APM Cloud Monitor will start checking your website.
By clicking the 'expert mode' button you will see more configuration options become available, they include:
- Port: Define the port to check, this field has always a default value. For http type monitors the default is 80.
- Post variables: Specify the variables that will be POSTed to the web server. Input should be of the form: name=value, name2=value2.
- User name: Specify a user name in case the host requires authentication.
- Password: Need to be specified as well if he host requires authentication.
- Visitor information type: If you have a subscription to a website analytics package (Google, SiteStat etc.) it is possible to include figures about the number of visitors in the reports. If you choose an analytics package you will be asked for your profile id and profile name.
- First limit: Define the limit in milliseconds, under which you think the server is performing well.
- Second limit: Define the limit in milliseconds above which you think he server is performing badly. (Note: if the total time stays between the first and second limit then the server is performing poorly).
- Time-out in seconds: Define the maximum time a rule should wait for a response. If the time limit ends without a response an error is registered.
- Max number of bytes to download: If the documents to check are very large, then the time-out from the previous field might not be sufficient for a complete download. In this case you can set the maximum number of bytes to read.
- Delay between checks: Specify the delay between the subsequent checks of the rule.
- Check period: Define a specific time interval to check the rule.
- Check on these days only: Define which days of the week you want the rule to be checked.
- Remind me again after an alert in: Select the interval between the subsequent reminders of a persisting error.
- Alert when up again: Check the box to receive a message when the rule is working again as specified.
- Maintenance schedule: Specify maintenance schedule for this rule. Errors that occur during this maintenance time slot are shown, but are marked as 'errors during maintenance'.
- Folder: Folders can help you organise your monitors and group them. This can be very useful, for example you can activate/deactivate many monitors that perform checks in the same network at once. You can add folders in the main screen of the rule settings.
- Click on 'add folder'
- Click on the newly created folder to change the name and status.
- After you save, select a rule (by ticking the action box), and from the action menu (drop down box) select move to folder "your folders name".
- Tags: Assign text labels to organise your monitors. Tags can be used regardless of the folders.
- User agent: Defines the user agent announced by the APM Cloud Monitor monitoring stations whenever they visit your server.
- Checkpoint order algorithm: Here you can influence the use and order of the APM Cloud Monitor worldwide checkpoints used by your rule. The options are:
- Random: Random checkpoint is chosen every time the rule is checked.
- Master: First check is done from a checkpoint specified by you.
- Sequential: Use all checkpoints in the order you specify.
- Sticky: When a checkpoint detects an error the rule will be checked only from that location until the error disappears.
- Checkpoint Selection: Define which checkpoints you want your rule to be checked from.
- Notes: This is your personal notepad. You can add any note you like. This option doesn't have any effect in the scanning procedure.
You can easily customise your monitors. Moreover, you can set up any type of rule you want and configure it according to your needs. To check what each field offers, click the icon on the right hand side to see the corresponding help text. For any further questions, contact the APM Cloud Monitor helpdesk.
STEP 5: Discover and understand the reports
All performance monitoring checks are logged and stored in the APM Cloud Monitor database. This information is accessible via APM Cloud Monitor reports.
Divided into the 'Monitor' and 'Reports' Dashboards, the following report formats are available:
- Performance chart
- Current Status
- Log files
- Custom reports
- Message log
To briefly explain the different types of reports...
At the 'Performance chart' tab in the 'Monitor' Dashboard, you see an overview of your monitors on an hourly basis. You can configure reports to display different groups (folders) or individual rules, and the date and hour. Clicking on an individual "hour" lets you drill down to the individual checks for that specific time frame and rule.
Further options are available by clicking the 'expert view'. Using 'expert view' you can set the refresh rate of your report, or choose rules according to their tags. If you hover your mouse over the hour-rule grid, balloons appear with information about the performance during the selected time. The legend at the bottom explains the colors in the grid. To see the log file report for a particular hour, click the required hour-rule boxes in the grid.
In the 'log files' tab you can find more detailed information for each check including:
- Description: The status of the check e.g. OK if all went went well or an error description
- Code: The code of the description of the previous field
- Checkpoints: The location of the APM Cloud Monitor station that performed the check
You can customise your report by selecting any rule(s) you want to see. Simply choose a monitor or a group of monitors in the field above the log table.
Hovering over an individual log record provides you with more detailed information for that check.
At the 'Graphs' tab, found in the 'Monitoring' Dashboard you can check data about the performance of your sites in a single view. You can choose which real time graphs you want to see via the 'Display' drop down box. The options include:
- Availability: Compare the Uptime and Downtime of your server or site.
- Performance: Check in milliseconds the resolve, connect, processing and transfer time at your server.
- Uptime: See the precentage of your sites Uptime.
- Resolve time: The resolution (translation) of your Domains name in milliseconds.
- Connect time: The time required for the connection to your server.
- Processing time: Measured in milliseconds the processing time.
- Transfer time: The time for the completion of data transmission.
- Download time: See the download rate per second.
- Total time: The sum of connect and download time in milliseconds.
- Download size: The size of downloads from your server in bytes.
- Transfer speed: Bytes per second of the transfer speed of your servers.
- Download speed: Bytes per second of the Download speed of your servers.
- Probes and errors: The number of probes and errors, for easy comparison.
- Checks and Confirmed errors: Watch in more detail the probes and confirmed errors relation.
- Error frequency: Take a closer look at the errors and the confirmed errors of the above graphs.
- Site Performance index: This graph gives an overview of the visitors experience when using your website. It shows the speed (loading time) and availability of your web page in a single number.
- Page views: Visitor information for your site. This graph gives data if you have set up a 'Visitor information type' when you added the rule which is checked.
- All Graphs: Display all the above graphs.
After you have selected the graph you require, you need to choose a monitor (or monitors) and time period. Further configuration options are available by clicking the 'expert view' button.
APM Cloud Monitor offers three different type of graphs: Google, Image or Flash charts. Using the expert view, you can select the type you prefer from the 'Use chart type' drop down box.
The 'Current Status' report, also in the 'Monitoring' Dashboard, gives you a complete overview of the status of your servers. In this page you can select automatic refresh time and view recent statistics for all your monitors. You can also create custom 'status' graphs by clicking the 'add' button.
Position your graphs anywhere on the page by dragging and dropping them from their status bar. It is a good idea to position the graphs most regularly refreshed, at the top of your status page. If you want to reconfigure a graph click on the pencil icon () on the left hand side of its status bar. To delete a graph, click the icon on the status bar.
You can download all your reports via the 'Download' tab, in the 'Reports' Dashboard. When you are in the download page choose the rule you want to download, set the time period, either by choosing one of the options at the 'Period' drop box or by customising it at the 'from' and 'until' fields, you can also select monitors according to the tags you have set. Nominate the format you want (the options are: Microsoft Excel 2003 XML, tab-separated values or comma-separated values) and click on the 'download' button.
On the 'Access' tab, in the 'Reports' dashboard as well, you will see a table which lists the APM Cloud Monitor customer(s) that have access to your log files and graphs, followed by a list of the log files and graphs which you have access to. Below this is an area in which you can grant permission for others to see your APM Cloud Monitors logs and graphs.
Customers that have been given access, can immediately see your graphs in their 'Graphs' page, by selecting one of your monitors from the 'of' drop down box. If you have access to other customers' logs, you can see their graphs in the same way.
The 'Message log' tab, in the 'Reports' Dashboard, provides a complete log of the messages sent to you and your contacts. The date, time, contact, type, status and a short description for each message can be seen and sorted by day, week or page.
STEP 6: Defining custom email reports
In the 'Reports' Dashboard click the 'Custom reports' tab, to set up a custom report. Click on the 'add' button, enter a report name and select the kind and number of graphs you want by clicking the 'add' button in the top right hand side. When adding a graph you need to configure it.
The configuration options include: title, the type of the graph, the 'Monitors' and /or 'Monitor group(s)' and a specific graph type configuration. You can reconfigure or customise your graphs at any time, by clicking on the pencil icon () in the top right hand corner. To delete a graph, click the icon on the status bar.
Add recipients to a graph by click on the arrow next to your report's name. You can select yourself or any of your contacts from the drop down box and specify how often they wish to receive the report. You can add more contacts to the list by selecting the '+ more' link. When you've finish adding contacts click on 'save'. Your custom report is now ready.
In the 'Actions' drop down box on the right hand side of your report, you have the following options:
- Edit: If you want to reconfigure your report. (This option is also available by clicking on the report name).
- Deactivate: Deactivating a report instead of deleting it means you have the option to easily 'activate' it again from the 'Action' drop down box.
- Preview: Download a preview of your report for the time period you want.
STEP 7: Updating your user preferences and payment details
In this step we will see how you can configure your account. We will visit the 'Acount' Dashboard where you can change your preferences, your details and also update your payment details ('Payment' tab).
Let's begin with your user preferences. On the 'Account' Dashboard, click on the 'Preferences' tab and check the following five configurable options:
- Regional settings: Here you can select your default language from the language drop down box, and also set your local time zone.
- Default settings for monitors: Set a default time out (in seconds), for all your monitors and enter a first and second limit (defined in milliseconds). (Note: If the total time for a check remains under the first limit, the server is performing well, if it remains below the second limit but above the first, the server is performing poorly and if it exceeds the second limit, it is performing very poorly). You can also define these values for each individual rule when, configuring them at the 'Monitors' pages.
- Charts settings: Select the default charts type. Your options are:
- Google charts: Generated by Google's API
- Image charts: PHP Generated graphs
- Flash charts: For more interaction with the user
- Checkpoints selection: Here you can choose the default checkpoints APM Cloud Monitor will use to check your monitors. Click on a continent to choose all the checkpoints from that continent or select 'all' to choose all the worldwide checkpoints. To change your selection, click the 'clear' link before selecting different checkpoints. You can also define checkpoints separately for each rule within the 'Monitors' pages.