100% Web-Based Monitoring – What is it and why should you care?

Web-based monitoring is almost a requirement today. Having the ability to monitor your infrastructure from a web browser means you can know how your infrastructure is performing from any where, at any time. Almost every monitoring solution today has a web-based user interface. So what then is a 100% web-based monitoring solution and why is that important? The points provide the answer to this:

  • Can you remotely administer the monitoring system? Often, a significant portion of the effort involved in maintaining the monitoring system is in administration. Many monitoring systems offer the ability for users to monitor their infrastructure through a web browser, but require administration to be done using a native interface. With such solutions, while you can monitor the infrastructure remotely, you may not be able to make instantaneous changes to the monitoring system (e.g., setting of the thresholds, changing the monitoring frequency, etc.) from wherever you are.
  • Is the web browser the primary interface for the monitoring system? Many a times, while a monitoring system supports a web browser interface for monitoring and reporting, the browser interface is not the primary interface and has been developed as an after thought. In such a case, chances are that the browser interface does not have the same functionality that a native interface supports.
  • Can you remote control your servers from the browser? You could be in a situation where the monitoring has detected a problem and has alerted you about it (e.g., a runaway process on your server, or a disk filling up). In such a case, you may need to immediately access the monitored server and fix the problem before it becomes service impacting. A true web-based monitoring solution should provide you the ability to remotely connect to the server being monitored from a web browser, so that you can initiate the necessary remedial action.
  • Does the monitoring system operate over the web, using web protocols for communication? Monitoring systems are often being used to monitor networks, servers, and applications in remote locations. For example, in the case of a managed service provider (MSP), the management server may be in one location and the infrastructure being managed could be in another. There could be firewalls and probably a wide-area network (WAN) separating the two locations. Many monitoring solutions use SNMP and other proprietary protocols for communication between the agents and the manager. Often, the communication is two-way, meaning that the agents listen on specific TCP ports. Such an architecture has multiple disadvantages. First, agents listening on TCP ports increase the vulnerability of the servers they are installed on to external security attacks. Second, firewall rules need to be modified to allow two-way communication and to allow proprietary protocols to be handled. In some cases, customers are forced to establish virtual private networks (VPNs) just to get the agent-manager communication working.

    A 100% web-based monitoring solution (such as eG Enterprise) avoids all of these limitations. It uses HTTP/HTTPS (port 80/443) for all communications between the manager and agents. All communications are one way – from the agents to the manager, so the agents do not listen on any TCP ports. Since most firewalls are configured to allow web traffic, firewall rules do not have to be modified to get the monitoring solution up and running. Further, since the HTTPS protocol provides high security and since the firewall rules do not need modification, it is not necessary to get expensive VPNs set up just to get the monitoring solution to work.

The above questions highlight why you need to care that your monitoring solution is 100% web-based.