What utility do you use to monitor your Web site? And what function should you monitor—uptime? For many of us, uptime is directly related to job performance. If our Web server frequently goes down, people start ringing OUR phones, not the application developer's phone. Buggy applications are a Web server administrator's worst nightmare. Even when the sloppiest code goes into production, it's the Web server administrator's fault.
This week, I'd like to focus on what you as the administrator can do to be alerted when your Web server takes a graceful swan dive into the gutter. I look at three particular solutions—shareware, online services, and dedicated solutions—and give a brief overview of what you should look for in each.
Locutus Codeware makes a $20 shareware program called Site/C that lets you check at specific intervals to see whether your site is up and whether the content has been changed. The program will even page you or email you when your Web site experiences problems.
Online services can proactively monitor your critical Web sites and alert you when your site is unreachable. Some can also provide reports about aspects of the user's experience such as download times and broken links. Look for a service that uses multiple paths to navigate the Internet back to your site and employs a number of methods to see whether your site is up, such as HTTP gets, pings, and traceroute, so you can quickly troubleshoot the problem.
An online service should also provide regular reports about your site's uptime so you can easily provide management with a quantitative evaluation. Alerts should be available by email, paging, or faxing and should include an alternate contact.
A dedicated solution should be comprehensive and measure far more than just IIS uptime. Some products, in fact, let you monitor the health of many types of applications that run on Windows 2000 and Windows NT 4.0 servers and alert you to server conditions that could lead to downtime. Look for products that also provide email and paging alerts and that can,. under certain conditions, take action and try to correct particular problems, such as restarting a downed NT service or rebooting a server.
During the past few holidays, all three types of products helped me monitor sites while I was away enjoying my vacation. I hope you're using something similar to ensure maximum uptime for your site. If you're not, you might want to visit Windows 2000 Magazine Network's Solutions Shopper site!
Until next time,