Lev Goncharov

DevOps Engineer

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About monitoring


Russian version

Monitoring is the most important part of your infrastructure. Monitoring is system engineers basics. However, everyone has his own way to understand it. My way consist of denial. anger & acceptance.


Denial It’s hard to believe, but there is a server room at the photo.

It was 2007. I was studying at CSU (Chelyabinsk State University) at the information security department as a sophomore. I decided to apply for CSU as an assistant at information security lab. It was a temporary part-time job. After that at 2009, I got one more part-time permanent job at a trading production organization as a system administrator. That time, I didn’t use to know about monitoring, I was wet behind the ears and thought that it was possible to be a hero an solve any faced problem. Hopefully, it was a short period of my life, I felt that it was wrong.



2010 was one of the most exhausting years. I worked for 2 employers; conducted courses; was preparing master thesis; moreover, I was prefect. Under experience pressure, my vision about monitoring was changing. That process clashed with my resignation. Before graduating exam, I decided to resign and looked for a new job. The vast majority of interviewers were confused because I was a student. However, one of them had agreed to hire me, I had a full-time permanent job for an international multinational company. I graduated; I was improving my skills & experience, I worked for outstaffing companies. The vast majority of our projects were amazing & interesting startups. I extremely levelled up my qualification, because there were no other ways in case of 400 servers for the single person. I had worked as a DevOps before it was mainstream. I burned out at work & decided to change work.

That time, I thought, that we had to monitor everything. It was really important. Everyone should receive monitoring notifications. Also, monitoring toolset was changing & improving. One of the first implementations was bash/PowerShell scripts(free space, count of available updates, backups status, etc) & external services Red Alert, Lazy farmer (in-house tool for site checking). It was good enough in 2010-2011, however, we faced a lot of different issues:

We had decided to do our life a bit easier and choose Zabbix. We monitored everything:

Also, I’d like to share some of the faced issues:

  1. There were cross DC distributed infrastructures and a lot of metrics. We faced that sometimes metrics were absent. We fixed it via Zabbix proxy.
  2. If VPN tunnel fails, we will receive a ton of messages. We configured infrastructure dependencies.
  3. We automated recurrent tasks. i.e. in case of low free space, we tried to clean it automatically.
  4. We understood that it was a bad idea to notify somebody if the CPU load average metric will be more than 95% during 30 seconds, as a result, we added something like threshold period.
  5. We checked business-critical scenarios (i.e. web login, search, etc).
  6. We added Zabbix to skype integrations, because of chat-ops.
  7. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?.
  8. etc…



A bit later, I understood that on one hand, business guys don’t care about RAM/CPU/IOPS. Their interest to TTM(time to market) & business metrics, but on the other hand, IT gut should be able to trace any kind of issue.

Zabbix had been good enough, but the world was changing. There were a lot of modern approaches to monitoring.