Poorly managed or unwieldy IT system integrations can break at any moment. If this happens, it can disrupt the day-to-day operations of a business. If an IT department also lacks experience when it comes to Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of system integrations, then it can be difficult to interpret monitoring alerts to identify what caused the disruption in the first place. The purpose of this article covering requirements specification for monitoring and logging of system integrations to is to help you and your organization get an idea of the questions that you should ask and outcomes that you should expect, at a minimum, from a tool for monitoring, logging, and repository of system integrations.
Prepare a Well-Defined Requirements Specification for Monitoring and Logging of System Integrations Beforehand
They say that preparation is the key to success and this also certainly applies to selecting an optimal tool for monitoring, logging, and keeping a repository/CMDB for system integrations. Preparing a well-defined requirement specification beforehand will significantly help organizations avoid obvious pitfalls and mistakes.
A requirement specification should clearly outline the essential features and capabilities that the O&M tool should have. It will help decision-makers select the best-fit solution. By understanding these components, readers can make informed decisions that maximize the effectiveness and ROI of the overall system integration investment.
1. Look for Proactive End-to-End Monitoring – Minimize Downtime by Responding Immediately
Successful system integrations can be highly complex. They can require that organizations seamlessly connect with various software applications, systems, and technologies. Organizations should have requirements on the following capabilities from a monitoring tool for system integrations:
- Comprehensive System Visibility: A reliable monitoring tool should provide a holistic view of the integrated system. This includes all interconnected components (end-to-end), applications, and services. It must provide visibility into the health, and interactions within the integrated environment. It should also be technology agnostic.
- Event and Alert Management: All good monitoring solutions should be equipped with robust event and alert management capabilities. It should be able to detect and capture relevant events and non-events in real-time and generate alerts or notifications. These alerts or notifications will inform stakeholders about potential issues or performance deviations.
- Performance Monitoring and Optimization: A real-time monitoring solution should offer performance monitoring features. This allows organizations to track key metrics. Additionally, the solution should democratize data by allowing other departments access to specific alerts or notifications.
- Visibility for business users: IT departments should not only be able to monitor integrations. End business users should also be able to monitor, resend and start/stop integrations. This would enable business users to be more effective and proactive. For this to work a platform needs to support user level visibility of integration parts. For business users it’s important to be able to track and follow instances of messages. Such as a certain order or invoice number to be able to track how far in the integration chain it has been processed.
2. Message Logging – Expect to Reduce Time Spent on Troubleshooting and Debugging
A comprehensive message logging tool greatly eases troubleshooting and debugging. Unlike technical or event logging, a system integrations message logging tool should log event and non-event business transactions as they move through the entire workflow. More importantly, message logging needs to record messages with unique IDs to help IT and non-IT teams identify deviations.
Organizations should have requirements on the following key features for a logging tool for systems integrations:
- Detailed Record of System Activities: It should have an extensive and easily identifiable log record of system activities, events, and errors throughout the workflow. This log message, often identified by a correlation ID, serves as a valuable resource for IT teams when troubleshooting issues or investigating incidents. The log data can help users gain insights into the sequence of events across workflows. This helps to identify the root causes of problems which can then be remedied. Hence, achieving end-to-end logging.
- Log Aggregation and Centralized Storage: A comprehensive logging solution should support log aggregation. The collected logs from various workflows are consolidated into a centralized storage location. This centralization also simplifies log management, ensures data integrity, and enables efficient searches and analysis.
- Advanced Search and Analysis Capabilities: Message logging should provide robust search, filtering, and analysis capabilities that are based on IDs and other unique metrics. This enables IT and non-IT teams to identify relevant messages for further action. Admins should have the option to create log views for any end-user role. This can then be broken down into specific rights to search for specific business transactions only.
A top-notch message logging tool can effectively trace events and detect anomalies in system integration workflows. These capabilities help IT departments to find and resolve issues. With robust log aggregation, centralized storage, and advanced search capabilities, organizations can harness the power of their log data. Through the ability to create end-user log views, business departments and teams can engage in self-service. This end-to-end ability to democratize data should translate into less IT support tickets.
3. Look for Smart Alerts and Effective Actions
Near instant alerts should inform all stakeholders, i.e., IT departments as well as other people in the business, when issues or anomalies take place within the systems integration environment. The ability to respond quickly should minimize the impact of incidents and help ensure smooth operations.
When considering an alerting system for system integrations, organizations should expect it to contain the following key features:
- Timely and Actionable Alerts: An effective alerting system triggers alerts quickly, enabling IT teams (and other stakeholders) to respond promptly and proactively to address emerging issues. Moreover, alerts should provide actionable information by conveying the necessary details for efficient troubleshooting and resolution.
- Customizable Alerting Rules and Thresholds: Each system and application involved in system integration has unique requirements and behavior patterns. The alerting system should offer flexibility in defining custom rules and thresholds based on specific needs. This allows thresholds for events and non-event metrics that, when exceeded, trigger alerts. Customization also ensures that alerts are aligned with the organization’s operational objectives.
- Escalation and Priority Levels: Not all alerts carry the same level of urgency; some may require immediate attention and escalation to higher levels of support or management. An effective alerting system should also have an associated priority for each alert based on the SLAs and other relevant data provided from a systems integration repository (created in an integrated function for documentation).
- Perform remote actions: Upon receiving an alert and determining its priority, the next step is to decide what action to take. It should be possible to take remote actions to correct alerts. It should, for instance, be possible to re-start a server remotely. This allows organizations to take fast actions, even when IT support is busy and unable to assist.
4. Expect the Tool to be Scalable and Flexible
As organizations grow, and their IT environments evolve, system integration tools should be able to accommodate increased data volumes, new technologies, increasing number of users, and changing requirements.
Here’s what organizations should expect in terms of scalability and flexibility from their O&M solution for logging, monitoring, and documenting systems integrations:
- Ability to Handle Growing Data Volumes: Organizations require a solution that can scale data seamlessly. It should handle an increasing influx of data generated by systems, applications, and infrastructure components. This scalability ensures that the solution remains effective. Even as data volumes grow, enabling organizations to capture and analyze relevant information without performance degradation.
- Support for Diverse Environments and Technologies: Modern IT landscapes encompass a variety of environments, technologies, and platforms. A solution for logging, monitoring, and creating and keeping an updated repository/CMDB for systems integration should be technology agnostic. It should also support various operating systems, databases, applications, and protocols, ensuring comprehensive coverage across the entire IT ecosystem.
- Scalable Resource Allocation and Costs: It should be based on a flexible architecture that allows for easy resource allocation and expansion. It should provide options for horizontal and vertical scaling to accommodate increased data ingestion, processing power, and storage requirements. Additionally, the solution’s costing model should be fixed or at least predictable. This will accommodate the growing number of users, within and outside the organization, who may want to access pertinent information.
A scalable and flexible O&M solution is essential to future-proofing system integration workflows. Additionally, these solutions enable organizations to maintain operational efficiency while expanding their IT landscapes.
5. Expect Data Protection and Compliance with Policies
Security and compliance are critical considerations in system integration workflows when establishing a requirements specification for monitoring and logging of system integrations. Organizations must nowadays prioritize data protection. This includes establishing proper access controls, adhering to internal policies as well as established industry regulations and standards.
Here’s what organizations should expect from a O&M tool for systems integration in terms of security and compliance:
- Robust Data Protection and Access Controls: A secure O&M tool for system integrations should provide robust data protection mechanisms. This includes encrypting sensitive data that is recorded and logged. An O&M tool should also offer granular access controls. So that only authorized personnel can access and modify log data, configuration data as well as repository data. This access management helps prevent unauthorized access and safeguards sensitive information.
- Compliance with Regulations and Standards: Different organizations and industries have specific regulations and compliance requirements. A reliable O&M tool for monitoring, logging and documenting systems integration should adhere to relevant company policies as well as industry standards and regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, or PCI DSS. A O&M solution’s data handling practices, storage, and access must align with relevant legal and regulatory obligations.
- Secure Transmission and Storage of Log Data: Log data must be protected during transmission and storage. This prevents interception and unauthorized access. A secure O&M tool should employ secure communication protocols, such as SSL/TLS, for data transmission. Furthermore, it should implement secure storage practices, including encryption, to safeguard log data from unauthorized disclosure or tampering.
A security-focused O&M tool for monitoring, logging, and documenting systems integration can effectively safeguard data, mitigate potential threats, and meet policies and regulatory requirements. It ensures the integrity and confidentiality of log data. This, in turn, reduces the risks associated with data breaches or non-compliance.
6. Set Minimum Data Visualization Requirements to Easily Discover Trends and Patterns
Data visualization enables organizations to gain valuable insights and effectively communicate their findings. Graphic representation allows complex information to be presented in a visually intuitive manner. An O&M tool for monitoring, logging, and keeping a repository/CMDB for systems integration should provide a customizable dashboard with key information presented in an easy-to-understand manner. It should also be easy to integrate with leading Business Intelligence tools such as Power BI or Qlick via APIs.
Using a BI tool allows for very high granularity and level of customizable visualizations and reports, access to relevant data for valuable insights and informed decision-making. This way, an organization can unleash the full potential of their integrated system data.
Here’s what organizations should expect in terms of data visualization and reporting capabilities:
- Clear and Intuitive Visual Representations: An effective data visualization component should provide all essential data and metrics that can be published via an API. Such a mechanism offers the flexibility to integrate with other central BI systems and optionally on dashboards as well. In addition, these features should support data democratization, in that all stakeholders can easily understand the trends and patterns.
- Historical and Real-time Data Analysis: Historical data analysis helps identify long-term trends, track performance over time, and perform retrospective analysis. Real-time data analysis provides immediate insights into the current state of systems, applications, and infrastructure. The combination of historical and real-time analysis helps organizations to make data-driven decisions and proactively respond to evolving situations.
- Smart Search Criteria: Users should have the option to use smart search criteria to quickly identify the data they need for further processing and decision-making. Another valuable addition can be the ability to print data in easy-to-read formats.
Robust data visualization and reporting capabilities provide actionable insights and drive informed decision-making. Clear and intuitive visual representations, customizable dashboards and reports, support for historical and real-time data analysis helps organizations to unlock the full potential of their integrated system data.
7. A Minimum Requirement is a Customizable Monitoring Environment
Organizations should have an O&M tool for monitoring, logging and documenting systems integration that can seamlessly integrate with their current IT ecosystem. It should also offer flexibility for customization and integration with third-party solutions.
Here’s what organizations should include in their requirements specification of monitoring and logging of system integrations:
- Seamless Integrations and workflows including Legacy and New Integration Systems (on-prem and in the cloud): An effective O&M tool should be adaptable to both newer and older systems. It needs to support seamless integration with commonly used systems integration platforms and techniques. This includes platforms like Azure Integration Services, WSO2, MuleSoft, IBM, Boomi, BizTalk, Rabbit MQ, Active MQ, Frends, etc. Seamless integration enables streamlined workflows, efficient data sharing, and collaboration between different systems and teams.
- Architecture Allowing Customization, Third-Party Integration and Support for New Systems Integration Technologies: Flexibility and extensibility are essential for customization and integration with third-party solutions. Extensible architecture allows organizations to tailor the solution to their specific needs. It should support the development and integration of custom plugins, extensions, or modules.
- API and Webhook Support for Data Integration and Automation: An O&M monitoring, logging, and documenting systems integration tool should provide robust API capabilities and support for webhooks. APIs allow organizations to programmatically interact with the solution, enabling data exchange, task automation, and integration with other systems. Webhooks enable real-time data delivery, triggering events and actions based on predefined conditions.
The image below shows how a HTTP Webhook can be used as an Alarm Plugin.
- Ability to Perform Custom Monitoring: A good O&M tool can run PowerShell on its own and this will, in return, provide useful data. PowerShell allows organizations to execute custom scripts that perform monitoring using self-service enabled monitor views.
An O&M tool for monitoring, logging, and documenting systems integration with strong integration and extensibility capabilities, should be able to seamlessly connect with existing systems and tools.
8. Expect Automation and Analytics – Make Informed Decisions Based on Relevant Data
Automation and analytics can streamline operations, provide valuable insights, and enable proactive decision-making. Organizations should expect the following automation and analytics capabilities:
- Automated Data Collection and Processing: An effective O&M tool for monitoring, logging and documenting systems integration should automatically gather data from various sources. Such as from applications, systems, logs, and metrics. Additionally, it should automate the processing of collected data by applying predefined rules and filters. Most importantly, this process of automated data collection and processing should be non-intrusive to ensure minimal to no impact on solution maintenance, usability, and user productivity.
- Advanced Analytics and Machine Learning Capabilities: It should offer advanced analytics capabilities, including statistical analysis, data visualization, and correlation analysis. Integration with machine learning algorithms enables intelligent data analysis, anomaly detection, and predictive modelling for proactive monitoring and decision-making.
- Self-healing: An effective O&M tools also come with self-healing capabilities to minimize downtimes and keep business-critical services up and running. More importantly, the monitoring, logging, and documentation tool should ensure that there are minimal disruptions to operations, even when unforeseen events occur outside of office hours.
Automated data collection and processing coupled with self-healing capabilities enable organizations to streamline processes, detect anomalies, and take proactive actions to improve the performance and reliability of their IT environment.
Requirements Specification for Monitoring and Logging of System Integrations Conclusion
When considering requirements specification for monitoring and logging of system integrations, a good O&M solution should provide proactive end-to-end monitoring, reduce time spent on troubleshooting, smart alerts and effective actions and data visualization. To enable these key points the evaluation of the O&M system must be well defined.
When looking for a tool for monitoring, logging, and repository for systems integrations there are a lot of requirements that could be considered.
- Basic ones: Monitor integrations, catch errors, send alerts and archiving messages.
- Normal requirements are resending of messages, End-to-End Monitoring, system platform, platform updates and repository for documentation.
- Extended requirements are tracking of message instances over several integration nodes, an UI for business end users and a licensing model that allows any user to access the system.
The evaluation would preferably be done by judging your company’s specific requirements and ranking these accordingly to find the most suitable O&M solution. On request a template for evaluating could be retrieved free of charge from Nodinite.
(Above image: Excel evaluation)
Nodinite: A Complete System Integration Operations and Maintenance Tool for Monitoring, Logging, and Documenting
When selecting a product that meets all the critical requirements for an O&M tool for monitoring, logging, and documenting systems integration, Nodinite is an ideal choice. It is a comprehensive tool offering a wide range of features and capabilities.
Nodinite stands out among O&M tools because it focuses solely on monitoring, logging, and documenting of systems integrations. This specialization helps customers gain end-to-end control of their system integration message flows across IT systems.
Click here to download Nodinite’s free Assessment and Selection Tool.
For more information, please visit Nodinite’s website here.
 The term agnostic means that the monitoring solution should be compatible with multiple technologies and platforms used in the end-to-end workflow.
 Ideally, a direct link between every integration and its entry in the repository can provide priority levels and other data that will support swift resolution.
 That is, it should be able to adapt and integrate with diverse systems, ranging from on-premises infrastructure to cloud-based services