In a 24/7 global economy, companies must keep key systems running at all times. How could LiveMon scale its monitoring software to meet the demands of the largest and most complex IT infrastructures?
LiveMon launched its comprehensive monitoring solution, which offers unique artificial intelligence features, on highly scalable IBM® Power Systems™ S822L servers running Debian Linux.
8x boostin performance expected post-optimization
Millisecondsof latency, enabling real-time monitoring of servers anywhere
Intelligentsolution adapts to each client and predicts faults before they occur
Business challenge story
Serving the non-stop economy
In today's world of just-in-time manufacturing, integrated global supply chains and always-on customer interactions, businesses simply cannot afford any downtime for their key internal and customer-facing systems. Today, loss of service or degradation of performance can translate immediately into financial losses and reputational damage, so IT departments are under considerable pressure to keep servers, applications and network components in optimal working order at all times. And when these critical elements are spread across multiple delivery platforms—everything from in-house physical servers to third-party SaaS offerings on the public cloud—the challenge is significantly greater.
Marc Pertron, Founder and CEO of LiveMon, comments: “Every company IT department lives in fear of key services falling over. A huge amount of effort goes into mapping and monitoring the infrastructure, and yet the challenge is always increasing faster than you can bring it under control. We set up LiveMon to enable IT managers to ‘choose serenity’ by having an intelligent monitoring solution that spans all kinds of delivery platforms and learns what’s important—so that you can spot the vital signals in the noise.”
As LiveMon looked to ramp up its service and take on large enterprise clients, it knew the importance of maintaining sub-second latency for monitoring and reporting on events. Pertron explains: “We monitor everything, everywhere, and our artificial intelligence feature requires huge amounts of compute power and as many threads as we can throw at it. Knowing that competing solutions often struggle to scale beyond about 1,000 servers, we wanted to make sure that LiveMon could achieve sub-second latency for much larger environments.”
To boost performance and scalability, LiveMon chose to deploy its software on IBM Power Systems S822L servers with IBM POWER8® processors, and immediately saw a two-times improvement in performance—despite the fact that its code was heavily optimized for the x86 architecture.
“With the little-endian support in POWER8, we were able to run our code without modification,” says Pertron. “The performance doubled, and we are now working with IBM to optimize the performance; our projections suggest that we will achieve an eight-times improvement in processing speed versus x86.”
LiveMon currently has more than 112 Power® S822L servers worldwide, and its software is designed to scale up and out as its client base grows. Clients install a lightweight software agent on each server they want to monitor, which then communicates with LiveMon’s cloud to provide tailored real-time monitoring through an intuitive web browser-based graphical interface. For clients with specific security requirements, LiveMon can also supply the solution as a standalone in-house appliance running on a Power S822L server in the client’s own data center.
Using the LiveMon interface, IT managers can monitor all of their resources, group infrastructure elements into logical sets, categorize services by priority, set alert thresholds, define escalation paths, search and analyze logs, perform trend and threat analyses, and produce a practically unlimited variety of reports and dashboards. Uniquely, the software uses machine learning and predictive analytics to understand the priorities and expected service levels for each client and service, and to provide intelligent alerts about events that are statistically likely to occur in the future.
Shemin Nurmohamed, Chair of the Board of LiveMon, comments: “Our competitive differentiator is the artificial intelligence capability of our solution, which can automatically detect and warn clients about upcoming threats to availability, capacity, performance and security across their hybrid infrastructures. With LiveMon running on IBM Power Systems, our clients can take pre-emptive action to ensure that key services are always working optimally.”
Pertron adds: “The AI within our solution is made possible at a large scale by the massive multi-threading capability of the POWER8 processor and the high-speed connections between the processors. These features enable our solution to analyze huge volumes of log data on the fly, learn what normal service levels look like, and react within 10ms of an event that suggests a future degradation in service. We provide an open API, making it easy for clients to use alerts to trigger automated responses: for example, to provision new virtual capacity for an e-commerce website if traffic spikes suddenly.”
In addition to offering eight hardware threads per core and more on-chip cache than x86 processors, POWER8 features IBM’s Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI) technology. CAPI provides a high-performance solution for customizable, computation-intensive algorithms on a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). Where a traditional accelerator can access shared memory only via the main processor’s I/O subsystem, CAPI connects acceleration engines directly to the coherent fabric of the POWER8 chip, removing complexity and cutting latency. The technology makes it faster and easier to offload compute-intensive and highly parallel programs to the FPGA, resulting in significant overall performance gains for many applications.
“The CAPI interface on POWER8 is a real game-changer for us in terms of performance, as is the transactional memory,” says Pertron. “For developers, it means you don’t have to think about how the memory is synchronized across different threads – you can just write your code and rely on POWER8 to do the rest. For us, that’s a huge advantage.”
Optimizing IT through better intelligence
LiveMon’s IBM Power Systems infrastructure provides a high-performance and extremely scalable platform for its intelligent IT monitoring solution. Thanks to the speed and flexibility of the IBM Power architecture, LiveMon is able to support a full spectrum of clients on the same platform: from a start-up with two virtual servers through to a major European bank with more than 15,000 physical and virtual servers across multiple owned and third-party locations.
“Regardless of the number of servers in a client’s landscape, our solution provides sub-second resolution to keep them informed in real time about the status of their critical services,” says Pertron. “The scalability and performance of Power Systems enable us to achieve this at very low cost per monitored system, so we can price our service extremely competitively even against much less sophisticated options that lack our cognitive capabilities. Equally, the comprehensive scope of our solution means that clients can typically replace a whole patchwork of existing monitoring and alerting solutions, further cutting their costs.”
The intelligent, context-sensitive monitoring provided by LiveMon understands that relatively high failure rates may not always merit a middle-of-the-night alert to an IT manager. For example, backup logs tend to contain large numbers of failures without necessarily implying that the overall service is at risk. In this scenario, LiveMon would understand that a sudden increase or decrease in the rate of failure might require investigation.
“Our solution optimizes the signal-to-noise ratio so that our clients can focus on what really matters,” comments Pertron. “And with less than one second of resolution as standard, LiveMon enables the IT department to detect and respond to events as fast as today’s hyper-connected businesses require. We also help our clients better utilize their support services, ensuring that they call the right people and provide the right diagnostics to get problems fixed faster.”
LiveMon’s cost-effective and intelligent monitoring automatically adapts to the normal pattern of each client’s business, building up an understanding of the targeted service levels over time, and using sophisticated analytics enabled by IBM POWER8 processors to highlight potential future failures in real time.
Nurmohamed concludes: “At LiveMon, we’re like an on-call consultant telling you what to focus on, so that you can sleep more easily at night. Backed by IBM Power Systems, our built-in intelligence and machine learning help businesses create the optimal IT landscape over time, and we also provide tools to help organizations determine the best platform for each service they run. Ultimately, we are solving an emerging challenge in the always-on economy, providing a smart monitoring service that augments the ability of IT managers to understand and optimize their services to meet the changing needs of the business.”
LiveMon is a fast-growth start-up that provides an all-in-one solution for monitoring servers, applications and networks in real time. Giving companies the ability to monitor all of their systems, anywhere—in their own data centers, private clouds or the public cloud—LiveMon’s artificial intelligence learns what’s important in each landscape and predicts future failures.