Monitoring theory, from scratch — The definitions

Monitoring — it’s not rocket science! Except when it actually is…

The raw and basic definition

So, before we begin… What even is monitoring?

  • Monitoring is about observing.
Is this monitoring? Or is it simply a random, unrelated stock photo?
  • Monitoring is about observing things important to your business.
  • Monitoring is about efficiently and promptly observing things important to your business

From monitoring to good tech monitoring

Now, that’s better. Telling us our system has been inoperative for a whole week probably fails to count as monitoring. But let’s raise the bar even further. Let’s try to figure out what qualifies as good monitoring. To that, we shall turn into another source of internet wisdom — inspirational quotes.

  • Good monitoring is monitoring which allows a human to derive insights about your business’s operation, in order to prevent or minimize damage.
  • It could do things it wasn’t supposed to do, or fail to do the things it was. Let’s call this one ‘correctness’.
  • Maybe it’s trying to do the right things, but does not meet the service level it’s supposed to, like being too slow. I’d like to call this one ‘smoothness’, based on the expected experience.
  • Maybe it’s doing the right things smoothly, but costing us too much money while doing so. Most businesses like to earn money eventually and don’t operate on an infinite budget. I’d like to call this one ‘efficiency’.
  • Another important bit which is unfortunately often neglected, is keeping in trust. A system really should be secure. I’d like to vote for ‘security’.
  • And, while optional for some, abiding by the law that governs your business should be in. Let’s throw in ‘compliance’.
Is this a problem? Or is it simply a random, vaguely related meme template?

Summary/takeaways

And thus, we end up with the following three definitions to serve us for the rest of the series:

  • Monitoring is about efficiently and promptly observing things important to your business
  • Good monitoring is monitoring that allows a human to derive insights about your business’ operation, in order to prevent or minimize damage.
  • Good tech monitoring is monitoring that allows a human to ensure your business operates correctly, smoothly, efficiently, securely and in compliance while reducing false positives and false negatives to a minimum.

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Gil Bahat (she/her)

Gil Bahat (she/her)

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A Gil, of all trades. DevOps roles are often called “a one man show”. As it turns out, I’m not a man and never was. Welcome to this one (trans) woman show.