Why Website Monitoring, Insight and Support Tools Matter

Why Website Monitoring, Insight and Support Tools Matter

“My site is running slow.”

I like to talk to Acquia’s support team as often as I can. It provides a lot of insight into how we (the product team) should focus our attention. That is how a lot of support calls start. “My site is running slow, and I don’t know why.”

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This question can lead down a lot of different paths in terms of how you might solve an issue. All too often, the traditional response is to throw hardware at the problem. This approach can take many forms -- for example, it could mean autoscaling or adding new containers. Regardless of how your platform is architected, however, any addition comes down to servers and storage. Adding capacity does resolve issues, but it does so with a cost.

At Acquia, our support team combines its unique Drupal and cloud hosting expertise with a number of tools to investigate and resolve application performance issues. The insights it provides allow many of our customers to optimize site performance without the need for an investment in additional capacity.

Site Report Cards

Once your application is up and running, your team requires tools to enable it to quickly assess the health of the site as it grows and as new features are added. There are three core areas where your digital team can assess your site to quickly understand its health:

  • Security: Confirm that all patches have been deployed to avoid the risk of a costly breach.
  • Performance: Confirm that the latest feature or patch release didn’t impact your processing or storage negatively.
  • Code Best Practice: Is your code delivering content and application functions efficiently?

With years of Drupal and hosting expertise to guide us, Acquia developed Insights, a service that can analyze a site’s code and configuration then provide developers with a score in three key areas: security, performance, and best practices. Users can drill into each of these categories to learn more about the specific changes they can make to address failed checks. Often times, improving site performance is as simple as changing a few site settings, and Acquia Insight can help users identify when those changes are necessary.

Stack Metrics: Glimpse Beneath the Hood

Stack Metrics: Glimpse Beneath the Hood

Report cards like Acquia Insight provide you a quick view into areas that may require attention. If you do see that your performance grade on a site is less than optimal, where do you go next? If you have identified that performance is your challenge, then you need to understand where the issues reside within your stack.

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This includes analyzing the use of all of your components from load balancers and cache, the requests to your CMS and database and the use of your storage.

Informed users are more efficient users, we’ve found, so in 2017 we released Stack Metrics to all customers. Using the same key metrics as Acquia’s support teams, Stack Metrics shows customers important resource utilization trends and anomalies so they can immediately identify (or rule out) some of the more common sources of application performance issues.

Among the graphs available in Stack Metrics are:

  • Total Varnish, Nginx, and Apache requests
  • Varnish Cache Hit Rate
  • HTTP Response Code Rates
  • PHP Process Count
  • Max PHP Processes warning count
  • MySQL Slow Query count
  • OOM Error Count
  • Storage Utilization

Application Monitoring: Deep-Dive Analytics

Application monitoring has become a must-have for development and operations teams, especially those employing continuous delivery and integration best practices. A good APM solution gives the development team insight into how each layer of an application perform is performing, especially during and after code pushes, configuration changes, database updates, and high traffic events. Furthermore, these tools enable the team to ensure that any external services connected to the application are healthy and not impacting site performance.

Acquia has partnered with New Relic to ensure our support teams can utilize its services for diagnostic purposes, and it is available to any customers who wish to purchase their own New Relic subscription.

Acquia Support: Your World-Wide Centers of Excellence

When you need to extend your team, Acquia Support is there to help you dig deeper and optimize the performance of your applications. With more than 70 experts in Drupal, networking, and cloud infrastructure management located all around the globe, our team uses years of experience and a slew of custom tools to resolve thousands of performance-related problems for our customers every year.

Support teams, by nature, go over and above to help their customers. Acquia takes this and provides committed support for Drupal code. What this means for our customers is that they have assurance that if the issue is within application code, we have not only the expertise to identify and provide insight to remediate but a commitment to do so. In fact, our team has a combined experience of more than 250 years with Drupal, plus experts in all other areas of operating an efficient and scalable Drupal cloud.

To effectively monitor and manage an application in the cloud, you’re going to need a lot of specialized tools. To diagnose issues and optimize performance properly, you’re going to need a firm understanding of which tools to use, when, and how. When your applications are mission-critical and every second of downtime counts, you cannot ensure their success without access to all the right tools and expertise available every day to customers on Acquia Cloud.

Peter Brown Photo

Peter Brown

Former Director of Product Marketing, Cloud Computing Acquia