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What is Alive Monitoring (Ping Monitoring)? Explaining monitoring methods and efficiency methods

Alive monitoring is a method used to check whether a target node is running or stopped, and is essential for monitoring systems and networks. Alive monitoring can be said to be the most basic monitoring method.

In this article, we will provide an overview of aliveness monitoring, the reasons for its implementation, main monitoring methods such as methods using ping, and tools to make monitoring more efficient.

table of contents

  1. Overview of life-and-death monitoring
    1. What is Alive Monitoring (Ping Monitoring)?
    2. Reasons for carrying out life-and-death monitoring
    3. Points to note when monitoring life and death
    4. Subject to be monitored for life and death
  2. Main methods of life-and-death monitoring
    1. Ping monitoring
    2. Monitoring by watchdog
    3. port monitoring
  3. How to conduct life-and-death monitoring
    1. Perform manually
    2. Use monitoring tools
    3. Utilize agency services
  4. What is LogicMonitor that realizes integrated monitoring?
  5. summary

Overview of life-and-death monitoring

First, I would like to introduce an overview of life-and-death monitoring and the reasons for implementing it.

What is Alive Monitoring (Ping Monitoring)?

Alive monitoring refers to efforts to periodically check whether networks, servers, etc. are operating.

Alive monitoring involves checking communication with servers and networks, and confirming that there is a response to understand the operating status. Since the Ping command is generally used, alive monitoring is sometimes called Ping monitoring.

In alive monitoring, the only thing to be monitored is whether the monitored object is operating or not.

In general, it does not cover aspects such as whether the application is performing appropriate processing or whether processing results can be provided to the user without delay. Checking these aspects involves implementing other monitoring methods, such as application monitoring (APM) and front-end monitoring.

Reasons for carrying out life-and-death monitoring

By performing life-or-death monitoring, you can confirm whether or not a problem has occurred. If there is no response from the server or network when performing life-or-death monitoring, you can recognize that some kind of trouble has occurred.

Understanding the operating status of a system is one of the basics of system operation monitoring. When operating websites, business systems, etc., life-and-death monitoring is an essential effort.

On the other hand, life-and-death monitoring can also be considered the first step in system operation monitoring. Alive monitoring can only recognize situations where the system is not operating properly.

If we detect a problem through life-or-death monitoring, we will check to find out more specifically what kind of failure is occurring and what is the cause. Specifically, based on the information obtained from log monitoring, process monitoring, resource monitoring, etc., we will be able to understand in more detail the operating status of the system and investigate the causes of failures, and take measures accordingly. Masu.

Points to note when monitoring life and death

Since alive monitoring only determines whether the network or server is operating, it is necessary to take into account that even if no problems are found in alive monitoring, it does not necessarily mean that the system is operating normally. there is.

For example, a server might be running out of CPU resources, making your application slow and unable to provide a good experience to your users. There may also be cases where normal processing is not performed due to an application error. Such situations should be detected using other monitoring techniques, such as resource monitoring or log monitoring.

Subject to be monitored for life and death

Alive monitoring is mainly performed on servers, storage, and network equipment.

Regarding servers, not only the physical server equipment but also the virtual machines and containers installed within the server equipment are monitored. In addition, we may monitor the web server individually for each port. Regarding network devices, aliveness monitoring will be carried out targeting routers, switches, Wi-Fi access points, etc. Other equipment such as surveillance cameras and digital signage should also be subject to life-or-death monitoring.

Main methods of life-and-death monitoring

Below, we will introduce a specific method for carrying out life-or-death monitoring.

Ping monitoring

In many cases, life monitoring is performed using a command called ping.

Ping is a command program that can request a response from a device with a specific IP address on an IP network. Ping is widely used as an easy-to-use program due to its high convenience of being able to easily check communication with a target.

Ping complies with the ICMP (Internet Control Message Protocol) protocol defined in the TCP/IP protocol suite. Since the processing is not dependent on a specific vendor, it can be used as a standard regardless of the product vendor. Typical devices are programmed to respond to pings.

When you make a ping request to the specified IP address, you can receive a response if the device or server to which that IP address is set is operating normally.

At that time, the response includes the round trip time (the total time taken from sending the packet to the destination until receiving the response), packet loss rate, etc. If there is no response, a message such as “Request timed out” or “Host Unreachable” will be output. In this case, communication with the target is not possible.

It is important to note that even if there is no response, it does not necessarily mean that the target is stopped.

Ping requests are naturally made through the network, so if the network equipment between the request and the target is down or disconnected, the request itself will not be able to reach the target in the first place.

Monitoring by watchdog

For devices whose ping has been stopped for security reasons, a watchdog may be used to monitor the device’s aliveness.

Watchdog is a word that means “guard dog.” By installing a watchdog on the monitored device, it will periodically send packets to the reporting destination, just like a watchdog. If this packet is interrupted, it is assumed that something is wrong with the device.

Note that methods such as Ping, in which the monitoring side makes inquiries to the monitored device, are called “active monitoring,” and methods, such as watchdog, in which the monitored device sends information to the monitored device, are called “passive monitoring.” Sometimes.

port monitoring

In particular, when monitoring web servers, life-or-death monitoring is performed on ports.

A port is a socket that is set to distribute communications exchanged over IP to multiple applications. For example, port 80 is used for HTTP communication, and port 143 is used for IMAP, which is used for email. By specifying a port for communication, you can communicate with each application in a specific manner.

By performing alive monitoring on these ports, you can check the operating status at the level of the application corresponding to each port. For example, if you check connectivity to port 80 and there is no response, there is a possibility that some kind of problem has occurred in HTTP communication and your company’s website cannot be viewed.

Ping, mentioned above, is a program that operates on the network layer, so it cannot be used for port monitoring. Port monitoring is performed using the TCP protocol or UDP protocol that operates on the transport layer. Specifically, this is done using the Traceroute command.

How to conduct life-and-death monitoring

Next, we will introduce specific methods for carrying out life-or-death monitoring.

Perform manually

The most basic way to perform life-or-death monitoring is to manually execute a ping command or other command.

If the number of servers or network devices to be monitored is small, it is possible to perform this manually. In this case, one of the operational tasks is to periodically execute the Ping command, or visually check the operating status of a website.

This method is not impossible if there are only a few things to be monitored, but as the number of things to be monitored increases, it becomes difficult to do it manually. In that case, you may want to consider using the tools described below.

Use monitoring tools

One possible way to automate life-and-death monitoring is to introduce operational monitoring tools.

Alive monitoring can be performed automatically by setting the IP address of the server or network device to be monitored, the frequency of monitoring, etc. on the tool.

By introducing tools, you can not only automate life-and-death monitoring, but also streamline the entire monitoring process. Since it is not often that monitoring involves only alive monitoring, it can be said that the use of tools is effective from the perspective of streamlining other monitoring tasks as well.

With general tools, it is also possible to set up an alert to be raised if a response is not obtained during life monitoring. This allows you to recognize when an abnormality has occurred even if you are not constantly monitoring monitoring results.

Utilize agency services

If you find it difficult to monitor in-house due to lack of resources or skills, you may consider using a monitoring agency service.

This type of agency service is called a “MSP (Managed Service Provider)” and allows you to outsource your company’s overall management, including operation, maintenance, and monitoring.

However, the disadvantage of using an agency service is that it incurs a certain cost and that your company does not accumulate know-how. Nowadays, systems are recognized as the core of business, so we recommend that you carefully consider whether to outsource operational monitoring tasks.

What is LogicMonitor that realizes integrated monitoring?

In particular, as the scale of your company’s systems grows, building an efficient monitoring system becomes important in reducing workload and quickly responding to failures.

In this situation, you should consider adopting a monitoring tool that is effective in improving the efficiency of monitoring operations and reducing MTTR (Mean Time To Repair).

LogicMonitor, a SaaS-type IT integrated operation monitoring service, can centrally monitor all targets such as servers, networks, middleware, and applications. In addition to life-or-death monitoring, it supports a variety of monitoring items such as hardware monitoring, process monitoring, network monitoring, and log monitoring.

LogicMonitor has monitoring templates that support over 2,500 types of servers, network devices, OS, and middleware. By using these, you can efficiently implement operational design even when performing monitoring work for the first time.

In recent years, there has been a shift from on-premises to public cloud, and LogicMonitor can support both on-premises and cloud. Even if your company has various IT assets, you can centrally monitor them.

For more information about LogicMonitor, please also see the service documentation here.

summary

In this article, we have provided an overview of life-and-death monitoring, the main implementation methods, and tools to streamline monitoring operations, including life-and-death monitoring.

Especially in recent years, the importance of IT systems in business has increased. Under these circumstances, it is necessary to efficiently implement monitoring operations, including life-and-death monitoring, while ensuring stable system operation. Utilizing appropriate monitoring tools will help ensure stable system operation.

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