Architect Great Applications by Factoring in a Monitoring Strategy

It’s no secret that architecting great applications and systems requires precision and organization. Designing the best systems and applications, ensuring that architecture goals are met in both tactical and strategic frames, all while collaborating with stakeholders is no easy task. Architects act as a keystone role in understanding the big picture and how each application, applications, systems, or even the entire enterprise fit together to fuel company growth and innovation.

We often hear of leveraging monitoring tools toward the latter end of the software development lifecycle, most frequently in production and deployment. But as software development evolves, we are seeing organizations begin to monitor earlier and more often to provide visibility into both their applications, the systems they rely on, and their environments earlier, so teams can ensure they meet their performance and scalability requirements.

What is Proactive Monitoring?

Synthetic monitoring, also referred to as proactive monitoring, takes an active approach to monitoring digital assets by simulating a user interacting with your application, website, API, and more. Synthetic monitoring tools emulate real users by carrying out key actions or transactions that your application, website, API, web service, etc. would execute. Rather than monitoring real user interactions, synthetic monitoring offers organizations a way to monitor what a user would encounter in reality, so that any issues or performance deviations can be caught and fixed before a real user experiences the problem.

What Does Monitoring Have to do With Software Architects?

Well, a lot. Understanding how your designs come to life in reality is vital visibility that you need to move forward. Generally speaking, integrating monitoring tools as a validation of the designs or tests you want to run is a great way to ensure a smooth, seamless development process.

Integrating monitoring strategy into your blueprints helps you:

  • Apply design and testing methods – monitoring gives you the data and insight that can help you understand the big picture implications of design and production procedures and standards.
  • Connect teams – reusing assets from various teams as well as sharing and collaborating with result data can help you work closely with systems analysts, software developers, data managers and other team members to ensure successful production and delivery of each piece of software you create.
  • Continuously improve custom solutions – monitoring earlier and more often offers insights into the success of your applications and systems that can be used to continuously update and improve your designs whether its pre or post production.
  • Integrating applications with existing systems – monitoring the systems that support integrations, whether it’s an application or an API call, ensures the seamless integration of new and existing systems and continuous success of these integrations, while maintaining data structure and integrity.

Monitor Your Applications With  AlertSite

Applying Design and Testing Methods and Continuously Improving

Monitoring is complimentary to design and testing phases, and if you select the right tool, all of these phases can work in conjunction to provide valuable feedback. AlertSite, for example, empowers users to reuse design artifacts like OpenAPI Specification (formerly known as Swagger Specification) files or Selenium test scripts to begin monitoring a digital asset. Monitoring earlier in the development process, lets you put your designs to work, to receive frequent insights and truly visualize how your designs and test will apply in reality for users.

By consistently monitoring applications in both pre-production and production environments you gain a view of performance from an on-going perspective. Monitoring provides a heartbeat of how your apps are performing as you’re deploying new versions of your code in various environments. Catching issues earlier in the process empowers teams to quickly remedy the issue, and continue to test and monitor the subsequent changes. With real-time validation that your new versions are performing as expected, you can release new deployments confidently. We like to call this monitoring for DevOps environments (you can read more about how to implement DevOps monitoring strategies here).  

Connecting Teams and Integrating Applications

Reusing artifacts can be a game changer, not only for communication and interoperability, but also for efficiency and overall team agility. For Architects, integrating monitoring strategies into the design plan has a few benefits. First, the monitoring tool can act as a common source of truth for every team seeking to understand how the application performs on a consistent basis, so by establishing this process from the get-go, teams can gain consistent performance feedback so they can work to meet their goals. Additionally, using a singular tool for this feedback, one which leverages preexisting work and integrates with the other necessary toolsets, whether it’s a testing platform like ReadyAPI, or a NOC tool like Splunk, allows teams to stay coordinated and collaborative in the way that they move forward through the development phases.

Including monitoring as a strategy when constructing applications, you can better position your design for success. Monitoring the APIs that connect systems together is vital in ensuring the integrations you plan pan out.

While this gives a brief overview, it is key to note that when it comes to Architects, there are a variety of roles, each of which have unique goals and challenges.

Monitoring for an Enterprise Architect

Taking a global view of systems within a company and understanding the business process, Enterprise architects identify the best tools to support processes. With a firm grasp on the business needs of the organization, the Enterprise Architect is process-focused, with big picture intent. For this architect monitoring offers two unique benefits:

  • Tool Performance
  • Data standardization and sharing
  • SLA Monitoring

First and foremost, in today’s day and age, understanding how tools interact with one another, how they are performing, and when these tools are unavailable or go down is essential to keep an eye on the business as a whole. Monitoring can offer insight into the reliability and success of the tools they use, the processes in place, and identify areas of improvement when application moves through the development process. So not only can this help with tool evaluation, but monitoring also provides the actionable data enterprise architects need to communicate iterative improvements.

Secondly, leveraging a monitoring tool that can span the breadth of the business supports one of the most important initiatives – collaboration. Most monitoring tools are not able to move with the application as it graduates from design to deployment. AlertSite in this case is uniquely positioned to help businesses gain transparency from the design phase through to deployment. By selecting a monitoring tool that can absorb your standardized designs, communicate data, and share reports, Enterprise Architects save time and effort, while ensuring clarity in the result data they receive to better express and unify understanding of architecture in a team.

Finally, making sure the tools you select are performing as you had agreed upon is vital in discerning which tools are best for your organization. Monitoring the SLAs the way to get clarity on how your return on investment is coming along and whether changes need to be made.

Monitoring for a Systems Architect

Understanding how systems interact with one another and setting standards for all solutions, the Systems Architect ensures that infrastructure elements and software work well together. For Systems Architects, connecting the dots between systems and ensuring these connections are reliable and performing is paramount. Monitoring tools can help Systems Architects verify these connections and uphold standards in the following ways:

  • API Monitoring

APIs bridge gaps. However, making sure these bridges are solid and functional requires testing and monitoring. Monitoring tools, like AlertSite can help Systems Architects validate that the APIs they rely on are available, performing well, and functioning as expected. Planning to monitor the APIs designed into a solution is incredibly important for validating the success of not only the API but also the application in the future.

Monitoring for Applications Architect

Closest to the more conventional monitoring practice is the Applications Architect. Responsible for defining requirements and limitations, understanding the entire application and its interactions between components, the Applications Architect is deeply in tune with the specific application and its purpose. Monitoring applications offers a variety of benefits:

  • Understanding how the application performs in both test and production environments
  • Proactively identify performance hindrances
  • Streamline consistency

Testing and Monitoring go hand in hand. Just as you would plan to test the application, planning to monitor the application is equally as essential. Testing helps verify that applications work the way you expect them to work. Ultimately testing helps identify the limits of the application, including stress tests, load tests, but these tests reflect the state of an application at a single point in time. In that moment, catching defects is critical and it encourages iterative improvements to the application design and functionality. Monitoring layers on top of these efforts by offering a continuous view of performance over time, so you know the key user journeys are working even if they aren’t encompassed in the test cases executed for a given deployment.

When an application experiences a performance slowdown or a blimp in availability, you will know. Whether that’s in a pre-production environment or a production environment, monitoring tools help accelerate issue identification and remediation processes by quickly isolating the root-cause of the problem. By knowing immediately when something is amiss, you can iteratively improve and instantly fix any issues you may run into.

Now, most monitoring tools might not help streamline consistency. However, AlertSite is unique in that it can reuse the assets you already have, whether it’s an API design/specification or a selenium test script, enforcing the standards set across the business remains simple and efficient. By leveraging standard, consistent documents that are not unique to just the Operations teams, AlertSite can help you bring together departments and support interoperability.

Moving Forward

Increasingly businesses all over the world are recognizing the importance of communication and collaboration. Without these two factors, business units remain siloed, which makes it difficult to move quickly, work efficiently, and deliver the best outcomes. Take it from businesses like Amazon and Target, breaking down these barriers can lead to an immensely successful business, embracing both agile and DevOps initiatives.

However, support for interoperability can’t come from human efforts alone. Data can get lost in translation, and without integrated processes, moving forward becomes much like running through molasses. This is where we come in. Understanding how to leverage tools like AlertSite that make it easy to provide visibility into your digital performance is vital in architecting and maintaining the applications you design, develop, and deploy.

How Can You Get Started With Proactive Montioring?

Select a tool that can enable agility and fortify your DevOps initiatives. AlertSite can help you reinvigorate your monitoring strategy.

To learn more about Proactive Monitoring check out AlertSite here.

Additional Resources