Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Testing Your Internet Facing Infrastructure

If you are an organisation with any Internet facing resources, it’s important for you to ensure that all the supporting infrastructure is alive, well, and functioning as it should be.  For large institutions, you probably already have all sorts of monitoring in place that can tell you of any problems in near-real time. You do, don’t you?
If you don’t (or you want to augment your existing services) there are number of sites on the Internet that will do that for you and provide you with the results. One site, Pingdom.com provides both a free and a pay service.
The pay service is aimed at monitoring the uptime and performance of you servers, including not only your corporate web server, but others too such as your Lync Edge server.  The Pingdom  service provides real-time monitoring service that can alert you is something interesting happens. You can get alerts ins SMS, Twitter and E-mail. The service also keeps records of the tests performed and the results which enable you to keep track of the performance of your key web sites. You can even get alerts on your mobile phone (Android and IOS it looks like – no Windows phone). 
And there’s even a REST-based API for you to use! The API produces JSON encoded output. Invoking the API and interpreting the JDON responses were features added to PowerShell V3 – thus with the pay-service APIs, you could write PowerShell scripts to manage your Pingdom service!
If you are a Lync Admin, and are providing either remote access (i.e. to your users who are coming in via the Internet) or are providing federation to customers and clients, you have a significant challenge to setup your external infrastructure and ensuring it continues to function. The pay service can provide you with a useful set of eyes/ears on the internet, ensuring that all the infrastructure aspects of your Lync Internet features are working as they should – and will inform you when that stops.
Pingdom also offers three sets of free tests for you to use:
  • Ping/Traceroute – provides basic ping and traceroute to your site from Pingdom’s site. This provides a useful point of view in terms of your infrastructure’s availability/reachability across the Internet. The ping comes from one of the many probe servers used by Pingdom - there are over 60!
  • DNS Health – this page checks to see if external Internet DNS is setup correctly. DNS setup is critical to ensure your site is reachable but is also easy to misconfigure. This page tests your infrastructure, and provides details as to what it finds: good or bad. There’s also a troubleshooting guide to help you to understand the errors that the checker might find and how to resolve them. See here to see what precisely the DNS test is doing for you.
  • Full Page Test – this page tests the performance of a web page on your site and returns a wealth information.  The waterfall view shows all the files that downloaded and how long each download takes.  The Performance Grade view shows you how your page performs against a benchmark set of metrics. The Page Analysis view analyses the download, providing details of the server response code, how the page loaded, what sorts of documents are being downloaded, etc.
Here’s an example of using the Full Page Test against my Office 365 site, Reskit.Net:
This site is a fairly simple SharePoint site – and you can see each of the individual files downloaded to make up the page and what’s happening during the downloading of each file. You can use this waterfall graph to possibly optimise the page for faster downloads (and less bandwidth used).
And speaking of Free, Pingdom also provides a free check of a single site. This is the same check you could perform using their paid service, but free. The pay service allows you to check more than one site/page, and other services (see https://my.pingdom.com/account/subscription for details of the pay version).
All in all these free tools are pretty good – and I discovered a small DNS configuration issue I need to resolve! Nice catch Pingdom. And the pay tools look like being useful as well.
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1 comment:

Mary said...

I realize that Pingdom is a unversal tool and everybody knows it, but not everybody can afford it. What about small businesses which have no chance to puchase this very solutions? We have to look for something cheaper e.g.I found Anturis for myself. It is the same as Pingdom, but many times cheaper.