Q

Setting criteria for comparing and selecting Web app monitoring tools

There may not be one Web app monitoring tool that can do everything, but identifying the functions you need and negotiating with vendors can help.

What are the most reliable Web app monitoring programs? What criteria should we use to compare them?

There's no simple answer to your question. What specifically are you looking to do? Perhaps you want to do one or more of the following:

  • Monitor Web server resources (CPU/memory utilization, storage, etc.)
  • Monitor Web application availability and responsiveness
  • Detect anomalies such as security scans, hack attempts or denial-of-service attacks
  • Track page loads, click-throughs, etc. for marketing purposes

There are tools that can do each of these functions, but I don't know if one might be able to do all of them. Try Nagios, CloudFlare or Google Analytics.

Before you get too far down the path of selecting a Web app monitoring tool, here are some things to consider:

  • What do the stakeholders (i.e., executive management, marketing, you) ultimately want to get out of the tool?
  • What level of detail and what type of reporting are expected?
  • Is the platform on which your Web apps run a common one such as IIS or Apache? Do you have customized code? Is the application off the shelf, with no access to source code? That could make things a little more difficult to monitor.
  • Do you have the budget for a commercial product, or are open source and free applications (such as Google) all you can afford?

Finally, ask prospective vendors to help. Tell them your situation and your expectations, and see if there's a match. Sales talk is cheap. Don't be afraid to ask tough questions and get references, ideally from companies that work in your field.

This was first published in May 2014

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