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From the Virtyx Blog

Dimensional Monitoring: Diagnose Faster and with Confidence

By Jim Maniscalco • September 27, 2018

When we started building Virtyx we knew that monitoring was ready for a change. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence would drive some of the change, but even beyond those disruptive technologies, monitoring has reached a sort of plateau.

I know this may invite some debate but the fact is you can look at a plethora of commercial and open source monitoring products and quickly conclude that each of them can:

  1. Collect data from almost any source quickly and easily.
  2. Graph metrics, with multiple series over granular time periods.
  3. Send alerts when triggered by those metrics.

Virtyx, and other good monitoring systems, give you these essential features. But moving forward, to push monitoring even further, why stop at alerting of issues? If the monitoring system is collecting data to alert about an issue, why doesn’t it go further and collect the information on how it can be diagnosed and fixed?

Enriched Monitoring with Dimensional Data

The metrics collected can create the beautiful graphs and visualizations to give good visibility into the infrastructure or application. However, at a certain point more time series data doesn’t provide the depth and context to better understand the root cause of a problem. Some things cannot be graphed.

Virtyx builds on years of experience from IT Ops and DevOps to go further, ingest more data, to provide the dimensional context on top of 2D graphs. These added dimensions help diagnose and fix issues even faster.

We call it state — the extra dimension of data that is hard to graph, but just as important when understanding issues and problems. This extra dimension allows us to diagnose faster and with greater accuracy. State is separate from metrics; state can be tracked over time, but is not really graph-able. You can use metrics to show how many applications are installed, how many users are currently logged in, and how many requests per second your web server is getting. State defines what applications are installed, what version they are, who is logged in, and what the configuration is of your web server.

Virtyx automatically collects state through our Agent upon installation, with zero configuration. Behind the scenes, we’re building on top of Facebook’s powerful Osquery open-source tool. By building it into our Agent, we’re removing a lot of the complexity of installing, updating, and maintaining it over your hosts. By building upon Osquery, we’re leveraging it’s great querying ability to allow you to query every device in your infrastructure and ask it questions that simply can’t be captured by collecting metrics.

The metrics now collected by Virtyx for the your two dimensional graphs are enriched with our state information. For example, your disk usage has increased dramatically, but why? A quick look at the state change shows that Adobe Photoshop was installed on that desktop, explaining what has occurred. On top of being able to query the host for the current state, Virtyx captures the state over time allowing you to see how it’s changed historically. This provides another dimension of data.

Virtyx empowers your IT Ops and DevOps to ask these questions and get instant answers, so they can diagnose with confidence.

Monitoring is ready for a paradigm shift. More metrics cannot handle the complexity and needs of fast moving businesses. The innovation of bundling state data with metrics allows for deeper analysis of problems so they can be diagnosed better over more complex and critical infrastructures.

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