Anturis System Monitoring Package Quickly Discovers Server Problems

 
 
By Jeff Cogswell  |  Posted 2013-04-22
 
 
 

Anturis System Monitoring Package Quickly Discovers Server Problems


In the world of cloud management, there are many levels of products available—those that integrate closely with Amazon Web Services, for example, and those that are more general purpose that can monitor any site.

I've spent a lot of time with the bigger ones that integrate with AWS and are clearly targeted mostly at big corporations. But recently I came across a brand-new one called Anturis that's more general purpose and built with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in mind. From what I've seen so far, Anturis stands up well to the big players in the business.

As of this writing, Anturis is still in beta, and the company, which is also named Anturis, hasn't released a pricing strategy yet. However, the company assured me that there will always be a free version. That's enticing. And my expectation based on the target market is that the prices will be well within reach for smaller businesses, unlike some of the competition.

Anturis has a lot of features, more than I can cover in a single review. So in this review I'm sharing my experiences with a few of those features.

One thing to note about Anturis is the experience of the management team. One of the co-founders is Serguei Beloussov, who is founder and former CEO of Parallels and remains as chairman of its board. He also co-founded backup company Acronis along with two others partners, Max Tsypliaev and Ilya Zubarev. Clearly, the Anturis team has experience in IT systems.

Starting Out

When you first create an account on the Anturis site, a window pops up asking you how you want to get started. You can monitor a Web server, a MySQL database, server hardware and operating system, an email server or a user experience (I'll explain that one shortly), or you can set up a custom component (again, more on that shortly).

I initially chose a Web server to monitor, picking my own Website that I use for my consulting and training. It's not a huge Website, but would let me see how the features work. I initially set up the monitoring the last day of February, and it's been running ever since.

Setting up the monitoring is a snap. You give the monitor a name and click through a wizard. You provide a URL and the method of monitoring—either HTTP, Ping or both. Then you click Finish.

Anturis System Monitoring Package Quickly Discovers Server Problems


Next you'll see a very nice-looking user interface that includes a control panel on the left with your monitors and infrastructures listed, and then icons in the main area of your components. What I saw was my Web server listed on the left as well as an icon for it in the main area. Clicking on the Web server listing brought up a large page filled with the results of my monitoring session. (Check out the slide show for a screen capture.)

Over the course of the month, Anturis did indeed detect some problems with my site: one when it tried to connect but the connection timed out, and another time when it tried to retrieve the root page, but instead received a 404 error. I was unaware of either problem. Anturis automatically sends daily status emails, so I was alerted to the problems and so was able to investigate and resolve them. Since this is a site that I actually use professionally, Anturis didn't just serve as material for a review in eWEEK, but it helped me with an actual problem with my main work.

Next, because I use MySQL for a lot of work, I tried out the Anturis MySQL monitor. For this to work, you have to install special agent software on your server. There's a certain level of trust here, since I didn't really know what the agent would be doing. But considering the track record of the Anturis founders, I wasn't concerned. Also, the company says they'll give you the source code if you ask for it, probably to give you assurance that there is nothing malicious in it. I felt comfortable installing it, even though I'm usually quite paranoid.

The agent software includes both Windows and Linux versions. The Linux version is a shell script that in turn downloads the software. The only catch here is that I was sitting at my own desktop, logged into the Anturis site, but I needed the software on my server. So I logged into the server and then downloaded the Anturis agent software. It was no big deal (and somewhat obvious), but it did mean the steps on the Website weren't exactly clear.

The agent software includes its own desktop GUI that you can use for configuring it, including supplying the username and password to your Anturis account. At first I mistakenly put in the username and password for my MySQL installation.

Anturis System Monitoring Package Quickly Discovers Server Problems


After starting up Process Monitor and noticing the TCP activity to Anturis' servers, it occurred to me that I should be putting in my Anturis login information.

Once I supplied the correct information, the agent connected. I returned to my Anturis Web-based control panel from my local desktop and clicked Next in the wizard, and there was the agent name. It automatically determined the type of server (Windows Server 2008 R2 x64). I then clicked "Next," and now this is where I supply the MySQL login information.

Remember, I'm now connected to the Anturis end and it needs my MySQL login information. Again, there's a certain trust level here. This one is a bit more serious, though, as Anturis is apparently saving my database credentials in my account on its server. It would seem that the agent software I installed on my server could also save the MySQL login information locally; that way I'm not storing it on external sites. Next in the wizard I was given a large list of items I can monitor, including the slow queries rate, heavy join rate, Innodb buffer pool usage, connection usage and more.

Right away I saw some errors come up—not problems with the setup, but problems that Anturis immediately detected in my MySQL installation. I guess my MySQL administration skills need a bit of tuning. One error was the innodb buffer pool miss rate is 22.8 percent when it should be less than 20 percent. Another was that the thread cache miss rate was 25 percent, and it also should be less than 20 percent. Again Anturis helped me solve some problems. I definitely like this product.

Conclusion

Anturis is positioning itself between the big, expensive monitoring systems for huge corporations and the free and open-source products. One claim it makes is that the open-source ones require a lot of knowledge and configuration. From my experience that's true.

Configuring Anturis proved to be incredibly easy. And as you can see, right away it helped me find problems with my server that I needed to fix. Considering I'm hosting some of my client Websites on my server, this is going to prove important to my own work, and not just for my review-writing work here at eWEEK.

Needless to say, that makes me very happy. Although we don't yet know the pricing schedule, I can say that I'm very impressed and can highly recommend this product. So much so, that I will continue using it myself.

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