Top positive review
4.5 stars, rounded up
Reviewed in the United States on January 1, 2018
Mike Julian provides a very good discussion of what a monitoring system consists of, where logging and alerting fit in, and solid advice on building out a monitoring platform. The book is equally useful if you are starting from scratch, or if you are looking for ways to modernize your existing (and possibly dysfunctional) monitoring. He discusses both monitoring design patterns and anti-patterns, as well as arguments for and against various practices encountered in the field. There's even a chapter about how monitoring and alerting tie into on-call rotations, what works and what doesn't, and why.
Writing this review on the first day of 2018, I'll say that this is a very timely book which does a good job of discussing why things tend to be the way they are, monitoring-wise, as well as outlining the evolution of better strategies.
After establishing a firm foundation in Part 1 ("Monitoring Principles"), he then proceeds in Part 2 ("Monitoring Tactics") how monitoring, logging, and alerting can be realized for various parts of your system (frontend (browser-side), applications, servers, network, and security). The author's passion really shines through in the chapter on network monitoring and obvious love of SNMP ("[It] is a protocol that was simple and revolutionary when it was released but feels esoteric and arcane today. Unfortunately, it's what we've got..." [pg. 110]).
A real strength of the book is that it presents monitoring topics from the perspective of the value they provide to the business or institution. Without diluting the technical discussion, the relative merits of different types of monitoring are explored. There's even a nice closing chapter (Chapter 11, "Conducting a Monitoring Assessment") that provides an example of asking the right questions of the right people to find out what really matters to the business; this can easily be adapted to similar efforts in most organizations as a starting point for next steps.
This is a short but enjoyable book, packed with lots of practical information.