What is server alerting and monitoring?

IT agent with headset working at a service desk using server alerting and monitoring software


#GoToGetsIT: This article is part of an ongoing series from GoTo’s thought leaders on the frontlines: Our Solutions Consultants deeply understand our customers’ unique challenges and connect the right solutions to meet their goals using GoTo technology. Here, they share their industry knowledge on what it takes to help businesses everywhere thrive in a remote or hybrid world.

When you’re in IT, and responsible for the efficient operations of nearly every piece of software and hardware your employees are using, you had better be sure you know how to proactively look for issues before they impact end users. That’s where server alerting and monitoring come into play.

It’s a way to look at everything happening on a server, making sure that things look as they should, and sending yourself early alerts of problems, before they become disastrous for others. It is your quality check on the health of your servers, and your grace period to remedy issues before anyone feels the pain. In general, remote server monitoring software and alerting tools help keep your servers robust and operating to the best of their ability.

How do I remotely monitor a server that’s not near me?

Deploying an unattended software node on a server through a tool like GoTo Resolve allows that server to be accessed when nobody is there. This remote monitoring and management (RMM) solution allows you to monitor the “wellness” of that machine from a remotely located agent console.

For example, GoTo Resolve will give you a Microsoft Software Installer (MSI) or a package (PKG) file to install the unattended nodes, and then allow you to monitor these unattended machines from your phone, a web browser, or a desktop console. This flexible unattended access allows an IT agent to perform systems monitoring and keep an eye on things from a variety of devices or locations.

Four necessary alerting and monitoring software functions

The basic things an RMM software should allow you to do are:

  1. Keep your devices up to date with patch management updates
  2. Manage your antivirus and run scans as needed
  3. Alert you if things are not as expected
  4. Execute scripts to help correct problems or to push out new software

Alert examples and recommendations

With alerting software, you’ll want an easy-to-use interface to manage the available alerts. You’ll want to configure the alerts and define the conditions, then select the devices to be monitored, and then review and activate the policy and notification settings.

Some fundamental alerting might include:

CPU Usage

Monitor overall CPU usage on selected devices and define a threshold for CPU usage.

Example: Alert me when CPU usage is over 90% for 10 minutes.

Memory Usage

Monitor overall memory (RAM) usage on selected devices, define the thresholds for memory usage, and set an alert when the usage threshold is breached and held for the specified duration.

Example: Alert me when memory usage is over 90% for 10 minutes.

Free Disk Space

Monitor the remaining disk space in MB/GB or percentage (%) of the total disk size. Here you would define a threshold for remaining disk space on the selected devices.

Example: Alert me when C: drive falls below 20%.

Software Inventory

Change Monitor changes to software components on selected devices and define the change(s) you would like to track. An alert can be triggered when any software component is installed or uninstalled.

Example: Alert me when any new software has been installed on a device.

What can scripts do?

An RMM tool with a Remote Execution module will allow you to run automated commands on multiple devices. These command steps should be able to be grouped together into jobs, so you can name and reuse jobs, rather than having to build them from scratch for every task.

Maybe you’ll want to clear a cache, restart a computer, deploy software, install from an MSI, or execute Python, PowerShell, or JavaScript. If you’ve deployed a remote node onto a server, you’ll be able to take any of these actions without getting into a screen sharing session. Simply locate the server or multiple servers and run your script from your IT agent console.

Isn’t that a lot better than physically traveling to the machine and doing all of the above manually? Scripts are huge time savers, and when you combine them with the monitoring functionality to be proactive, you are staying ahead of most issues on your servers.

The big picture

Evaluate your monitoring strategy on a regular basis and update as needed to keep pace with changes that take place in your overall environment. A good server monitoring software solution will help you identify areas of improvement, help you improve your response times, and make you more effective in your role as IT and in your business as a whole.

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