June 06, 2012, 10:08 PM — It's 11 p.m. -- do you know what your Web stack is doing? Or not doing? If you're working for any serious firm, you have to know what's going wrong because the website is the front door, your mall presence, your receptionist, and your permanent booth in the big trade show called the Internet, all rolled into one. Even if the business is officially closed, insomniacs and people on the other side of the globe are going to come knocking.
The job of monitoring this public face is undergoing a transformation that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. At the beginning, programmers started writing their own scripts that would ping a few pages, then send a text message if something wasn't right. After that, companies started selling monitoring tools you would install in your data center. Now a number of companies are popping up to offer monitoring as a service. These solutions sit out on the Internet, watching your site and setting off alarms if something doesn't work.
[ Also on InfoWorld: Read Paul Venezia's post on remote monitoring and control systems, "Stay connected when disaster strikes." | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. | Get the latest practical info and news with InfoWorld's Data Center newsletter. ]
In the past, companies simply didn't outsource monitoring. Oh sure, it might be worthwhile to have some agents ping your websites from around the world if you had a global presence. Otherwise, most enterprise managers wanted everything running in their own servers in their own racks safely behind their own locked doors.
The cloud has changed this. If your website is going to be knit together from a bunch of machines that may be anywhere, there's no real reason to insist on doing all of the monitoring from the same rack. Or if your Web application is going to live in the cloud, reacting to the traffic and load by growing and shrinking, it makes sense to consume monitoring services that can also grow and shrink with demand.