How monitoring can play a crucial role in stabilizing Cloud DevOps Infrastructures

Cloud Infrastructure Monitoring:  

Monitoring platforms can assist in controlling incidents, raising costs, sending alarms to business owners and providing firm responses when incidents occur. Infrastructure events are stored in various log types, and the monitoring platform reviews these events to escalate them accordingly – essentially an event log analysis. The Monitoring Platform proactive detects unexpected events and labels them with appropriate categories such as info, warn, and critical that can adversely impact production uptime in any form. As a result of an event, it is widely used in software development, cloud engineering, DevOps management, network monitoring, hardware device monitoring, sensor device monitoring, and Cyber Security to determine the cause of the incident and identify what has happened.  

How to choose right monitoring tool: 

You will find numerous monitoring tools in the open-source and prosperity segments. It comes with configurable agent, agentless, and jar file variants. Most companies do profound research before implementing it in any monitoring platform. The company’s engineering team should onboard the right monitoring platform, keeping in mind production scope, product features, support availability, price, and capacity to monitor infrastructure. Sometimes you would require specific tools to cover the following scope: network device monitoring, API monitoring, container application monitoring, system infrastructure monitoring, and hardware monitoring. Besides monitoring tools, we must also select the appropriate platform to escalate the alarm so that it can reach the appropriate authority to resolve the issue. Here is a list of some of the most important monitoring platforms, such as Nagios, Zabbix, New Relic, PagerDuty, Grafana, Apache Solr, Prometheus, and ELK Stack. 

Logging Techniques 

Logging is the process of capturing critical information about alarms. Logs will contain a set of instructions about events such as Information about events, event time, username, source and destination files, and a detailed summary of the event. We tend to review log files to check time-series based information about an unusual activity that occurred in the recent past; logs are a good place to start. For example, you can use Microsoft Event Viewer and the UNIX Linux syslog file /var/log/syslog to find out the current state. 

List of General Log Types 

Security Logs: 

Security logs can be captured from any device on infrastructure resources such as files, folders, devices, networks, and so on. Such files will have deep technical information about user login information, file access, file modification, and file deletion information. Many systems automatically capture such critical information but require a DevOps engineer to add extra parameters to other exclusive resources before logging access. For example, the cloud engineering team might need to configure logging for proprietary data but not for public data posted on a website. Security log file information will be stored in /var/log/auth.log and /var/log/secure.  

System Logs: 

Most of the time, such kinds of logs are collected from the windows and Linux based operating system, such as when an OS starts or stops, activities on system files, logs of system or application services starting or stopping, or when configuration file attributes are modified. If an unauthorized user is able to access a system or critical application service, they can reboot or restart it, delete the meaningful record. Sometime attackers can access the system without recording their actions. System logs may help track these unauthorized actions in a much more detailed manner. 

Application Logs: 

These logs always contain the most critical information about software products that can be used for debugging custom-built applications. The software development team can decide what type of logs should be captured from the application based on criticality, such as information logs, critical logs, warning logs, etc. Software developers should also ensure that the selected log file destination has enough space to capture logs, and each log file should be part of the log rotational policy for Infrastructure sanity; otherwise, this log file may lead to disk space incidents on production systems. 

Proxy Logs 

Proxy servers improve internet access performance with caches and can provide better control to limit users access to the internet. Proxy logs have the ability to capture details such as websites visited by specific users with timestamps and the number of hours spent on these sites. Proxy logs can also block known prohibited sites and maintain records when the user attempts to access them. 

Audit Trails 

Audit trails are logs created to capture comprehensive metadata of system activity, security violations, software flaws, user actions, and API actions about events and occurrences. They are stored in one or more databases or log files. Even cloud services have started providing cloud tail logs for every cloud service. Audit Trails are always available to share customized information, and even custom automated actions can be placed in response to adverse events. Audit trails can provide a record of system activity, including security events. Cloud engineers analyze audit trail logs about an incident to find the incident’s root cause, check performance issues, security breaches, code deployment issues, and other potential security policy violations. 

Automating Incident Response 

Incident response automation has improved considerably over the years, and it continues to enhance its capabilities with cutting-edge solutions. We should also consider some of these improvements, such as Self-healing automation, incident response via artificial intelligence (AIOps), data science predictive analytics techniques, and incident service catalog automation, to proactively deal with incidents. If any incident is repeated constantly with an identical pattern, then it’s time to focus on actual issue remediation instead of taking Ad hoc actions to hide the problem. The cloud engineer should also focus on the entire infrastructure monitoring rule assessment drive to review whether all systems monitoring rules are configured as per current incident trends, because this drive will certainly help to manage the daily IT operation effectively.  

Author Details

This article is written by Amit Kumar, Head of Engineering at Checkmate Global Technologies. Amit Kumar has implemented various cloud cost control policy via infrastructure Consolation and optimal usage of every cloud service to ensure a 30% saving on cloud costs every month. He ensured proactiveness has to be part of the work culture, especially on the cloud, DevOps, QA, and Cyber security sides. 

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