Category: Monitor

Top 7 benefits of JDS Active Robot Monitoring

JDS has spent a lot of time this month showing how our bespoke synthetic monitoring solution, Active Robot Monitoring with Splunk, is benefitting a wide variety of businesses. ARM has been used to resolve website issues for a major superannuation company and is improving application performance for a large Australian bank. We’re also currently implementing an ARM solution for one of the biggest universities in Australia and a major medical company. Find out more about the benefits of JDS Active Robot Monitoring below.


Summary of ARM

ARM is a capability developed by JDS that enables synthetic performance monitoring for websites, mobile, cloud-based, on-premise, and SaaS apps. It provides IT staff and managers a global view of what’s happening in your environment, as it’s happening. You can then use the customisable results dashboard to easily consume performance data, and drill down to isolate issues by location or transaction layer.

Top 7 benefits of ARM

1. Get an overall picture of an application’s end-to-end performance

How long does it take for your page to load, or for a user to log in? Can they log in? You may be getting green lights from all of the back-end components individually, but not realise the login process is taking three times longer than normal. ARM gives you the full picture, helping you spot performance issues you may not notice in the back-end.

2. Small increase in data ingested

If you’re already using Splunk, the amount of data you ingest with ARM is minimal, meaning you are getting even more out of your enterprise investment at an extremely low cost.

3. Fast time to value

Many IT projects can take years to show a return on investment, but ARM is not one of them. Once implemented, IT and development teams see value fast as their ability to hone in on and resolve issues accelerates and the number of user issues decreases.

4. Performance and availability metrics based on users location

See how your website, system, or application performs in different locations to find out where issues may be occurring and how to fix them.

5. Proactively find and alert on issues before users do

Users discovering glitches or errors is damaging to a business’s reputation. The ARM robots are constantly on the look-out for problems in the system and will alert you when issues arise so you can resolve them before they negatively impact your customers.

6. Monitor performance 24/7, even while users are asleep

Humans sleep; robots don’t. ARM monitors your application 24/7 to ensure even your late-night customers have a stellar user experience.

7. Get unlimited transactions

Unlike other synthetic monitoring tools, which charge on a per-transaction basis (i.e. every user transaction you want to run invites a new charge), ARM allows you unlimited transactions, so you can measure whatever actions you think your users may take.

What can ARM do for you?

How can you convince your key stakeholders to invest in synthetic monitoring? We wrote a few weeks ago about why businesses should do both real-user and synthetic monitoring, but depending on your industry, you may need a more tailored approach.

That’s why, for the month of November, JDS has opened registrations across our locations in Australia to host an on-site workshop at your location, free of charge. If you’re interested in learning more about how ARM can benefit your business, sign up for an on-site workshop using the form below.

By clicking this button, you submit your information to JDS Australia, who will use it to communicate with you about this request and their other services.

Our team on the case

Your organisation deserves a good dashboard (and here’s why)

Cars cost a lot of money, and when a driver gets behind the wheel, they want to know that every component is working correctly. It can mean the difference between life and death—not to mention getting to your destination on time! For this reason, vehicle dashboards are painstakingly designed to be simple yet functional, so that virtually anyone can understand them at a glance.

In a similar vein, how much investment was involved in building up your organisation and its IT infrastructure—and let's not forget ongoing maintenance! The cost of system failure can mean life or death for your business, missing destinations and deadlines. In some sectors, such as health or search and rescue, it can even lead to injury or loss of life. With the consequences of lost visibility in mind, take a look at your organisation's dashboards (if they exist!). Ask yourself—are they as easy to understand as the dashboard of a car?

Most organisations would reply 'no' to that question. All too often, dashboards exist because the organisation's monitoring solution provided one out-of-the-box.  That's fine if your intended audience is all technically inclined, and understand what it means when there is a 'memory bottleneck' or the 'committed memory in use is too high'. These alerts, however, might mean nothing to upper management or the executive team, who are directly responsible for approving your team's budget. Action needs to be taken to translate the information, so that it is accessible to all your key decision-makers. So what are the first steps?

Here are three initial items to consider:

  1. Context is everything! Without context, your executive team may not understand the impact of an under-resourced ESX server that's beginning to fail. If, however, your dashboard were to show that the ESX server happens to host the core income stream systems for the organisation, you may have their attention (and funding).
  2. Visualise the data! Approximately 60% of the world population are visual thinkers, so your dashboard should be visually designed.  Find a way to visualise your data. Show the relationships and dependencies between systems. Oh, and "death to pie charts!".
  3. Invest the time and effort! Find your creative spark, and brainstorm as a team. A well-designed dashboard will pay on-going dividends with every incident managed, or business case written. Make sure you allot time to prove your work against SLAs.

If you need help with dashboard development or design, give JDS a call on 1300 780 432 and speak with one of our friendly consultants.

Our team on the case

Tech tips from JDS

The Splunk Gardener

The Splunk wizards at JDS are a talented bunch, dedicated to finding solutions—including in unexpected places. So when Sydney-based consultant Michael Clayfield suffered the tragedy of some dead plants in his garden, he did what our team do best: ensure it works (or ‘lives’, in this case). Using Splunk’s flexible yet powerful capabilities, he implemented monitoring, automation, and custom reporting on his herb garden, to ensure that tragedy didn’t strike twice.

My herb garden consists of three roughly 30cm x 40cm pots, each containing a single plant—rosemary, basil, and chilli. The garden is located outside our upstairs window and receives mostly full sunlight. While that’s good for the plants, it makes it harder to keep them properly watered, particularly during the summer months. After losing my basil and chilli bush over Christmas break, I decided to automate the watering of my three pots, to minimise the chance of losing any more plants. So I went away and designed an auto-watering setup, using soil moisture sensors, relays, pumps, and an Arduino—an open-source electronic platform—to tie it all together.

Testing the setup by transferring water from one bottle to another.
Testing the setup by transferring water from one bottle to another.

I placed soil moisture sensors in the basil and the chilli pots—given how hardy the rosemary was, I figured I could just hook it up to be watered whenever the basil in the pot next to it was watered. I connected the pumps to the relays, and rigged up some hosing to connect the pumps with their water source (a 10L container) and the pots. When the moisture level of a pot got below a certain level, the Arduino would turn the equivalent pump on and water it for a few seconds. This setup worked well—the plants were still alive—except that I had no visibility over what was going on. All I could see was that the water level in the tank was decreasing. It was essential that the tank always had water in it, otherwise I'd ruin my pumps by pumping air.

To address this problem, I added a float switch to the tank, as I was aiming to set it up so I could stop pumping air if I forgot to fill up the tank. Using a WiFi adapter, I connected the Arduino to my home WiFi. Now that the Arduino was connected to the internet, I figured I should send the data into Splunk. That way I'd be able to set up an alert notifying me when the tank’s water level was low. I'd also be able to track each plant’s moisture levels.

The setup deployed: the water tank is on the left; the yellow cables coming from the tank are for the float switch; and the plastic container houses the pumps and the Arduino, with the red/blue/black wires going to the sensors planted in the soil of the middle (basil) and right (chilli) pots. Power is supplied via the two black cables, which venture back inside the house to a phone charger.
The setup deployed: the water tank is on the left; the yellow cables coming from the tank are for the float switch; and the plastic container houses the pumps and the Arduino, with the red/blue/black wires going to the sensors planted in the soil of the middle (basil) and right (chilli) pots. Power is supplied via the two black cables, which venture back inside the house to a phone charger.

Using the Arduino’s Wifi library, it’s easy to send data to a TCP port. This means that all I needed to do to start collecting data in Splunk was to set up a TCP data input. Pretty quickly I had sensor data from both my chilli and basil plants, along with the tank’s water status. Given how simple it was, I decided to add a few other sensors to the Arduino: temperature, humidity, and light level. With all this information nicely ingested into Splunk, I went about creating a dashboard to display the health of my now over-engineered garden.

The overview dashboard for my garden. The top left and centre show current temperature and humidity, including trend, while the top right shows the current light reading. The bottom left and centre show current moisture reading and the last time each plant was watered. The final panel in the bottom right gives the status of the tank's water level.
The overview dashboard for my garden. The top left and centre show current temperature and humidity, including trend, while the top right shows the current light reading. The bottom left and centre show current moisture reading and the last time each plant was watered. The final panel in the bottom right gives the status of the tank's water level.

With this data coming in, I was able to easily understand what was going on with my plants:

  1. I can easily see the effect watering has on my plants, via the moisture levels (lower numbers = more moisture). I generally aim to maintain the moisture level between 300 and 410. Over 410 and the soil starts getting quite dry, while putting the moisture probe in a glass of water reads 220—so it’s probably best to keep it well above that.
  2. My basil was much thirstier than my chilli bush, requiring about 50–75% more water.
  3. It can get quite hot in the sun on our windowsill. One fortnight in February recorded nine 37+ degree days, with the temperature hitting 47 degrees twice during that period.
  4. During the height of summer, the tank typically holds 7–10 days’ worth of water.

Having this data in Splunk also alerts me to when the system isn't working properly. On one occasion in February, I noticed that my dashboard was consistently displaying that the basil pot had been watered within the last 15 minutes. After a few minutes looking at the data, I was able to figure out what was going on.

Using the above graph from my garden’s Splunk dashboard, I could see that my setup had correctly identified that the basil pot needed to be watered and had watered it—but I wasn't seeing the expected change in the basil’s moisture level. So the next time the system checked the moisture level, it saw that the plant needed to be watered, watered it again, and the cycle continued. When I physically checked the system, I could see that the Arduino was correctly setting the relay and turning the pump on, but no water was flowing. After further investigation, I discovered that the pump had died. Once I had replaced the faulty pump, everything returned to normal.

Since my initial design, I have upgraded the system a few times. It now joins a number of other Arduinos I have around the house, sending data via cheap radio transmitters to a central Arduino that then forwards the data on to Splunk. Aside from the pump dying, the garden system has been functioning well for the past six months, providing me with data that I will use to continue making the system a bit smarter about how and when it waters my plants.

I've also 3D printed a nice case in UV-resistant plastic, so my gardening system no longer has to live in an old lunchbox.

Our team on the case