How Sentry Software Monitored 99% Of Their IT Infrastructure in Grafana Using Hardware Sentry

Over 80 systems from 20 different vendors monitored in one unique console!

How Sentry Software Monitored 99% Of Their IT Infrastructure in Grafana Using Hardware Sentry

Taha Chkir is a senior system administrator at Sentry Software with over 10 years of experience in systems administration in both small and mid-size companies. He joined Sentry Software in 2018, where he supports, troubleshoots, and maintains servers and network. This year, he has been challenged to set up a demo platform to showcase the integration of Hardware Sentry in Grafana. He agreed to share his experience in this post.

So, Taha, tell us how the project started.

Well, it started with the need to showcase Hardware Sentry's capabilities in reporting hardware health metrics and sustainability KPIs in comprehensive and user-friendly dashboards. As Sentry Software already partners with GrafanaLabs and makes several dashboards available to their users, the choice of Grafana was obvious.

The Hardware Sentry dashboards would expose actual data for potential customers to understand the value of our product in a real-life context. Also, it would be a great help to our marketing and communication teams to support their efforts in promoting Hardware Sentry.

How did you prepare to take on the challenge?

First, I needed a clear view of all our servers, storage systems, and network switches to ensure no hosts - even the smallest PCs used for development purposes - were left unmonitored.

Sentry Software monitored 99% of their IT infrastructure in Grafana using Hardware Sentry

With this exhaustive list in hand, I configured Hardware Sentry to monitor them all. I worked closely with the QA team to identify the best protocol to use among SNMP, IPMI, HTTP, WBEM, WMI, WinRM, and SSH, as well as the credentials required.

Hardware Sentry Configuration File

Once the monitoring was set up, I configured Hardware Sentry to push the collected metrics to the Prometheus server and I loaded the Hardware Sentry dashboards in Grafana™.

Sentry Software Monitored 99% Of Their IT Infrastructure in Grafana Using Hardware Sentry

The final steps involved testing the integration with a consultant to identify bugs and areas for improvement and provide feedback from the field to the development team.

Does the outcome meet your expectations?

In only two weeks, I was able to provide a Grafana platform showing the hardware health and performance metrics of 84 hosts from 21 different vendors (Brocade, Cisco, Dell, Hitachi, HP, IBM, NetApp, Pure Storage, Synology, etc.). This means that we reached a 99% monitoring coverage.

Sentry Software monitored hosts from 21 different vendors in Grafana

So, yes, I was very pleased with the result even though I was unable to achieve a 100% coverage.

Why not a 100% monitoring coverage?

Well, I do not control every aspect of the monitoring conditions. I mean that some servers cannot be fully monitored, especially regarding sustainability information. Some do not have temperature sensors or do not support protocols like IPMI, etc. So, achieving 100% coverage is sometimes tricky. Our developers are working hard to find solutions and try to get the closest to 100%.

What did you learn from this project?

My first observation is that Hardware Sentry is easy to use and configure! The product requires minimal configuration as it auto-discovers all servers, network, and storage vendors when the configuration file is populated with the correct hostnames and credentials. Also, the standardization of the metrics across any system brand and model makes the dashboard very easy to read and facilitates data analysis.

I'd say that any IT administrator can start using Hardware Sentry on its own. Of course, they can rely on the documentation to get extra information and tips or browse specific use cases.

In the context of complex environments or difficult technical monitoring challenges, users can also benefit from the Sentry Desk team's expertise, which can help them get operational faster.

Testing Hardware Sentry in a real-world environment also allowed me to pinpoint some enhancements our customers could benefit from. It means an even better product version is coming soon!

Speaking of the future, what's coming next?

Now that the monitoring of 99% of the infrastructure is set up, I want to send the Telemetry data to the other observability platforms currently supported by Hardware Sentry, i.e. Datadog and BMC Helix. I also want to leverage the temperature information to better distribute the servers in the room, optimize the ambient temperature and reduce energy consumption. All these actions will contribute to meeting our ESG criteria and becoming a greener company.