As you may already know, we have been working towards our stability and usability initiative a great announcement for our customers has been released today. With the next update to your website a new service is automatically installed that monitors the site remotely from multiple places outside of our datacenter. This SiteMonitor service hits each customers' website(s) at periodic intervals and will run key tests against it to determine response time, valid page loads, database connectivity and log the results for future inspection and reporting. This service does many interesting things for us and was engineered to minimize impact on our servers and the sites while still providing accurate tests.
What do we do with the results?
If something appears to be wrong, our internal monitoring system is notified and it immediately sends notifications to all appropriate team members and on-call support staff no matter the hour. Emails are sent, text messages, audible alarms in the office and on special monitor computers go off, and internal automated systems kick in to diagnose and switch your site to other servers in the cluster while the down site waits to be fixed.
Why not buy off the shelf software for this?
This was a point of contention for us and we decided to engineer ourselves primarily because we do not just need to test 1 customer site...each customer has a minimum of 2 websites running side by side in our enterprise cluster environments. If one goes down the other picks up the requests and customer state. As amazing as that is, we need to test all sites on all web servers to ensure each duplicated website is running properly in the cluster. Being part of an enterprise web cluster provides our customers an unquestionable level of stability and this system just helps stabilize and prove that even more. Additionally we log this data to our internal databases for easy reporting later and to tie into other systems that can automatically respond to websites having problems as we work towards our quest for a "Self Healing" Data Center.
Were you not already monitoring systems?
Absolutely, we ran packaged software and some other custom apps that hit sites to determine if the web servers were responding to requests and other smaller tests. However, the new package runs much deeper tests and interrogates not just the main site, but every duplicated website the customer has across all web farms. The net result is a much deeper test and analysis.
Who gets site monitoring?
Every AmeriCommerce customer free of charge. There will be varying frequencies of inspection based on the level of service you are at. Bronze will be a few times daily, Silver & Gold will be hourly, Platinum every minute. And by request we can upgrade your monitoring level beyond what is provided, very minimal extra charges may apply. The reason we would have to charge for more frequent monitoring is due to the amount of bandwidth absorbed by the tests and the resources and servers needed to perform more requests against all of our clients.
Why not do every site every few seconds or minute?
Bottom line, server load and bandwidth. Neither are cheap, especially in an enterprise environment using the expensive equipment we demand AmeriCommerce to be ran on. Every request takes bandwidth to send and receive, the server must process that along with other customer requests for real pages. Multiply that by thousands of sites across multitudes of servers and everything adds up very quickly. Additionally, very low traffic sites would remain in memory on servers and the number of sites a cluster can host drops substantially if every page of every site is hit every second because the server never gets a chance to reclaim those resources. Shared clusters depend on reclaiming unused site's resources when processing requests. This is also why we have to charge a small fee for more frequent monitoring if you want something above your package level.
This is yet another great improvement to our infrastructure that buys everyone, employees and customers, piece of mind and the knowledge that we are out there ready to respond immediately if something happens. We know how important customers and sales are and you can count on the AmeriCommerce team to help provide you with the tools to make sure both are larger than ever.