We talk to prospective cusomters and partners about application monitoring and we invariably hear that they have a monitoring system. For desktop systems, they say they use SCCM or some other registry reader once a week or month. License managed from a server are restricted to a contracted number. While these solutions will let you know something is installed on a desktop and whether it’s been used, that is not a monitoring solution. Restricting licenses to what has been contracted for, and even stopping sessions if an application isn’t active is not monitoring.
Let's use the analogy of your car's gasoline engine. Modern engines come with a lot of monitoring and metering software. Metering happens at two places: when gasoline enters the combustion chamber and when air enters the combustion chamber. Metering adjusts the amount of usage at that point in time. There is no feedback loop to a meter. For our two scenarios, desktop and license server:
Desktop - When you have an application with up to 100 license keys, and check periodically. You are still restricted to 100 license keys. You may consider it monitoring to see if the license has been used in the past week, but you are monitoring for license key usage, not user usage.
License Server - When you push harder on the gas pedal, a signal goes to control valves and more gas and more air are let into the engine. There are built in restrictions to how much gas and air are let in to keep the engine from over revving.
Your car also has a number of monitors that provide input into the metering system to ensure optimal performance (you are using the appropriate amount of gas and air for current conditions). There are sensors which track how much air pressure you have going into the engine and how much oxygen hasn't been consumed after it leaves the combustion chamber. Sensors track various other gases, like N02, to determine if the gas/air mixture is burning correctly. This information gets processed and the computer adjusts the amount of gas and air to ensure optimal performance.
Monitoring solutions provide information when an application is being used. Like monitoring sensors in cars, it doesn't need to know how much fuel is in the tank, or whether you are near the top end of your rev cycle. But if you want to have an optimal driving experience and the best gasoline mileage, monitors are needed.
What does software monitoring look like? There are a number of attributes, and we'll cover those in our next posts.