server performance monitoring

Server Performance Monitoring 101

Kris Flores Developer Tips, Tricks & Resources

Server performance monitoring is essential in maintaining the health, safety, and integrity of your business’s servers. For modern businesses, no matter the industry, servers play an all-important role. Whether you store records and sensitive customer data in the cloud, employ a software environment that drives all your company’s business activities, or are in an industry that relies on sensors to power real-world equipment, servers play an essential role. Networked applications make day-to-day operations possible for corporations worldwide with servers at the center of it all. 

What happens when your servers experience unplanned downtime? The results can be catastrophic as IT downtime comes with an expensive price tag attached. The exact cost of unplanned server downtime can be anywhere from $5,600 a minute to $9,000+. That equals more than half a million dollars lost for every hour that your server is offline. The cost of a server crash directly scales with the size of your business and the areas impacted by the outage. If your company has a global footprint, the damage could be much more severe.  

Below are the most important factors to consider in setting up a performance monitoring program and the best practices supporting those programmatic choices.   


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The Value of Server Performance Monitoring

There’s an old saying, “A stitch in time saves nine.” That adage holds especially true in the tech sphere. The key to avoiding costly and damaging server downtime is implementing a preventative and ongoing program of performance monitoring. Performance maintenance with APM tools, such as Stackify Retrace, serves as an invaluable frontline intervention for preserving the integrity of your server and the supporting software and applications that constitute its stack. 

The true value of performance monitoring comes from continual oversight of key performance factors. Those benefits include:

  • The ability to quickly detect issues as they arise
  • Safeguarding sensitive data and client information
  • Minimizing the risk of server failure. 

Quickly detect system issues

This point should resonate with software engineers that are familiar with stack architecture. Little problems with your server OS and accompanying apps can quickly snowball into bigger issues. Problems tend to aggregate. 

With a properly-implemented program of server monitoring, you have installed a set of eyes on the ground that gives you a greater level of agility for quickly identifying —and resolving— system issues as they arise. 

Tracking the performance of your applications and environment can become much more difficult in a virtual server environment. Determining the cause of performance slowdown? Good luck. Existing tools don’t make it easy to spot potential issues before they impact users because they don’t provide an easy way to get proactive alerts or an effective dashboard into the entire environment. Netreo solves that problem by providing real-time dashboards, alerts, and historical reporting for your virtual environment. Netreo’s reporting can also be used to proactively identify potential problems so they can be resolved before users are impacted, or alarms wake you up in the middle of the night.

Data protection and security

With the proliferation of cloud-based business, there’s likely a huge amount of customer data stored on your company’s servers. The safety and security of end-user data is of the utmost importance. If there is a loss of customer data, or worse – a data breach, the cost of IT downtime is greatly exacerbated by the social and regulatory costs involved with fixing the issue. According to IBM, the average cost of a data breach in today’s market is just shy of $4 million dollars. An efficient, properly-maintained server is more secure, providing appropriate custody over sensitive client data. 

Mitigating server failure

Little problems add up over time. Software bugs and performance issues can create inefficiencies, like software problems, coding errors, and inappropriate heat management. Those inefficiencies, in turn, can lead to server failures. Preventing costly server crashes is the end goal. Server performance monitoring with an APM tools, like Stackify Retrace, helps you head off the little problems and prevent larger outages from ever occurring. 

Important Factors to Monitor 

Server performance monitoring is necessary in order to keep your system running at peak efficiency, but the term itself is broad. What aspects of your network should you focus on when creating an oversight program? It is essential to develop a list of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in order to measure your system’s efficiency and performance. 

Some of the more prominent KPIs that you should focus on include: 

  • CPU usage
  • Memory usage
  • Disk space used
  • Other hardware utilization
  • Process utilization rates
  • Bandwidth
  • Average response time
  • Thread count
  • Throughput

The process begins by establishing baseline metrics for each aspect you intend to measure. Take time to understand what those parameters look like at peak efficiency and under normal operating load in order to establish a starting measurement. From there, your team can determine abnormal levels for each of your key metrics. 

To get the most out of your performance monitoring program, you also have to implement the tools to help you understand —and properly deal with— server crashes when they do happen. Server crashes can be the result of many different factors, including both poor maintenance and external factors that you have less control over such as:

  • Viruses
  • Hackers
  • Traffic overload
  • Incorrectly formatted plugins
  • Internal coding errors 

For performance monitoring to be effective, you have to develop the tool set to track and deal with the wide range of problems likely to induce a server failure. That includes using a monitoring solution that gives you access to event logs to help you pinpoint areas of weakness and potential failure in your server stack.  

The Right Tools to Aid Your Process

To ensure a well-developed program of server performance monitoring you need to employ the right tool kit filled with valuable application monitoring. Stackify’s Retrace APM solution gives you a bird’s eye view of your server’s stack. The Retrace platform automatically analyzes all the applications that contribute to your IT framework, giving you the ability to monitor a wide range of performance-based metrics and take action before small errors and inconsistencies spiral out of control. Retrace gives your team:

  • App performance monitoring
  • App management functions 
  • A centralized logging tool 
  • A line-by-line view of your code and how it fits with the bigger picture
  • Robust error tracking reports 
  • A suite of real-time server monitoring functions 
  • Individual user monitoring functions

An all-in-one performance monitoring solution, like Retrace, lets you easily dissect your server stack and pinpoint areas of weakness before a larger, catastrophic failure occurs. It gives you a long view of how your server and its constituent apps function under network load. When used in conjunction with a deployable product like Accurics’ Terrascan, which keeps your infrastructure agile, up-to-date, and self-healing throughout its lifecycle, you can keep a watchful, proactive eye on the overall health of your server.