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What is the Future of Monitoring?

By Steve Jones,

I read Tom LaRock's post on the future of monitoring, looking at the rise of machine learning and complex algorithms to evaluate systems. Tom notes that the data input into a system is crucial in determining whether the system can produce a prediction or output that has value. Since the humans that decide what data is included may not choose wisely, the system won't necessarily reduce the time required to manage a system.

I tend to agree. From my conversations with those people having success with machine learning systems, the data preparation is the most critical (and difficult) step. Shortcut the cleansing and organizing, or make poor choices of what data to include and you won't likely get actionable results.

However, I have a different view of monitoring. After my watching of the Darpa Grand Challenge (editorial on this recently), I think the future of monitoring is perhaps actually making changes to code in-line. Perhaps with approval from humans, but I suspect that we can train some process to understand how particular batches can cause issues. We can certainly set filters that might note index changes on large tables could be problematic and should be investigated before an issue arises. We can teach a system to recognize code deployments, perhaps even roll back certain changes if the application fails. We certainly could have a machine learning system watching index usage and query plans to recommend indexes in a real time manner, perhaps even turning on and off on-line rebuilds.

I think there is possibility, but where I'd really like to see advanced monitoring is not in production environments. I'd like to see better systems that can watch development, helping suggest or rewrite SQL before it's deployed. Perhaps applications can warning developers of potential performance or security issues. Such systems could help us in building more consistency into our applications. We can have systems that help our developers code better.

As our databases and software become more critical to the functioning of most of our businesses, we certainly need more reliable and robust development practices.

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