With more Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) online than ever before, maintaining a reliable IT infrastructure is critical. When a small business’ website suffers performance problems and outages, the company risks the possibility of lost income and sales, customer dissatisfaction, security risks and breaches. In today’s world of nonstop online consumer interaction, it is essential that SMBs have a plan in place to ensure website and IT infrastructure accuracy and consistency.
Most SMB owners are not IT experts and are almost entirely focused on their own products and services. In that tunnel vision, they may not fully understand the essential IT web services that are required to keep the online part of their business up and running. For the longest time, IT infrastructure monitoring was just for big businesses. In today’s increasingly complex tech landscape, now almost everyone needs it because mostly every business (even the smallest) relies on an always-on online presence. The consequences of businesses being offline are staggering. According to recent data, in 2012 alone there was $237 million in turnover attributed to downtime, which can cost upwards of $1 million a day or as much as $40,000 in one hour of downtime for businesses.
The experts at Anturis Inc., a vanguard IT solutions company, have come up with five critical ways for SMBs to avoid downtime and maximize IT infrastructure reliability. By keeping these tips in mind and ensuring they have the proper IT monitoring solution in place, SMBs can minimize losses and maintain a strong, secure and reliable online presence:
Tip #1: Monitor Transactions, Not Just Website Homepages
The monitoring of a website means that the main page (homepage) will be opened periodically. If the page doesn’t open or an error occurs, the system administrator will be notified. However, monitoring the homepage (or even several pages) is not enough to ensure customer satisfaction. Today’s online platforms usually include one or more Web applications, and what you see on the next page often depends on what you do on previous pages.
For example, in a typical E-Store, a customer checks the product catalog first, then selects the product they want to purchase, adds it to a shopping cart and proceeds to a payment page. They can then view the total price on the final page. This multi-step transaction touches many different subsystems of a website behind the scenes. Running a transaction involves not only the web server, but also a database (to fetch the catalog), shopping cart module, payment gateway and other functions. To ensure everything is running successfully there has to be constant monitoring, with regular testing of transaction speed and completion to ensure that a customer receives the product and service properly and in a timely manner.
Tip #2: Check The Hard Drive Disk For Space Availability
Even though there can be multiple reasons why a website fails, there are a few things that commonly happen. One such issue is the lack of disk space. This is very dangerous, as it can lead not only to stopping the website service, but also to data corruption that can be hard to fix quickly. Databases grow in size with time, and so do email archives and log files. This all requires more and more gigabytes to function properly. Monitoring free space on the hard disk drive, and adding to it regularly, is essential.
Tip #3: Check How The CPU Load Changes In Time
According to statistics, 25% of users will leave a website if it doesn’t open within three seconds. Lack of processing power can significantly reduce the level of service and overall feel and functionality of a businesses’ website.
CPU loads vary all the time. If it’s 100% for some time, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the system is overloaded. It is important to view and monitor the average data over a day, week, month and year. If the CPU load increases from week to week, the system administrator can determine when the system should be upgraded. It’s also useful to periodically analyze the leaps of the CPU load. If there are large leaps, it could mean that there is a process that overloads the CPU from time to time, or perhaps the CPU is being impacted by malware. During this time, the quality of service is reduced. Identifying these processes and causes helps to ensure that a business is using its CPU capability more efficiently.
Tip #4: Monitor Your Service From Multiple Locations
Internet providers, datacenters and sometimes even entire regions can suffer from temporary Internet connection degradation. If you monitor the availability of your website from a single location you will be notified not only about problems with your server, but also problems with the connection between the monitoring location and your server. Monitoring, and more importantly automatic monitoring, from several locations ensures that you will not receive notifications caused by connection problems. If a check fails from one location but unavailability is not confirmed with failures from other locations, this points to a network problem rather than Web server problem. An often overlooked issue, this tip may save significant time diagnosing issues caused by false positives.
Tip #5: Monitor Your Website Host
It’s possible that the hosting provider is the cause of a website being down and unavailable. This doesn’t necessarily mean a full outage of your server, but perhaps a noticeable performance degradation that will adversely affect visitors. Typical causes of performance issues on a host’s side are poor isolation of virtual servers, computing resource over-utilization and inaccurate configuration changes.
If an SMB experiences problems with their website host, they can ask for a monetary refund or consider moving to a different host. If you have high traffic to your website, you can also consider redundant configuration.
In the end, IT infrastructure monitoring is now a must for most every business. Downtime costs opportunity, customers and money. While there are certainly more guidelines to avoiding downtime, the above highlight the critical tips for SMBs to save lost time, lost revenue and strive towards the ultimate goal of 100% availability.
About Anturis Inc.
A vanguard IT solutions company, Anturis Inc. is the developer of IT infrastructure monitoring and troubleshooting solutions for small to medium sized businesses. Anturis, now available in beta, delivers organizations of all kinds a 24×7 comprehensive monitoring and troubleshooting service that is both feature rich and easy to set up and use. Anturis, Inc. was founded by successful IT entrepreneurs Serguei Beloussov, Max Tsypliaev and Ilya Zubarev. For more information, or to start using Anturis now, visit www.anturis.com.