BI / Monitoring / Logging Tools

Business intelligence (BI) is a process that converts raw data into informed actions. It collects, structures, visualizes, and analyzes information that a company already has in order to give stakeholders, executives, and team leaders the ability to make better decisions faster. It can be used to support a wide range of business decisions, from long-term planning to day-to-day operational details. On a strategic level, a company’s positioning, pricing, priorities, and product roadmap can all benefit from business intelligence.

The process of business intelligence can be divided into four stages:

1. Data gathering
2. Data cleaning and standardization
3. Analysis
4. Reporting and visualizations

Generally, BI tools are more effective when they combine internal and external datasets. For example, one of the most popular reporting tools — Google Analytics — reports mainly on internal data, while Google Data Studio is able to import data from multiple platforms and then perform analysis on it. This provides added context that Analytics lacks, giving a holistic view of the company’s performance against the industry.

What are BI/Monitoring/Logging Tools?

Logging tools aim to facilitate the generation, transmission, analysis, and storage of log data produced by applications and infrastructure.

Application performance monitoring (APM) tools then use that log data to track various systems, such as servers, networks, databases, and websites, in order to monitor performance, stay ahead of any potential issues, and ensure that users can access the system.

Business intelligence (BI) tools take logging and monitoring one step further, helping enterprises to analyze and visualize data in order to make better business decisions. The data is commonly collected into a data warehouse or data mart, where it can be organized and presented in historical, current, and predictive views. BI tools are used to increase operational efficiency, identify new revenue potential, spot market trends and support business health planning.

Predictive analytics, which analyzes past events to forecast future business trends, can be considered the next stage of business intelligence.

When considering what type of platform will fit best within you organization, you should consider whether you want a plug-and-play tool that serves as a comprehensive one-stop shop for BI (such as Birst), or something that focuses solely on dashboarding and visualization (like Tableau). It depends on your strategy and how data-driven your organization already is.

Typically, key features of BI technologies include data and process mining, reporting, benchmarking, descriptive analytics, complex event processing, statistical analysis, data visualization, and visual analysis.

Benefits of Business Intelligence Tools

BI tools give decisionmakers a comprehensive and unified view of their organization’s data. With that view, they can then drive change, eliminate inefficiencies, and quickly adapt to changes. Analysts within the organization can use BI to:

1. Set performance and competitor benchmarks
2. Track market trends
3. Identify opportunities
4. Analyze customer behavior
5. Evaluate performance
6. Optimize operations
7. Forecast profits

The benefits of BI tools include:

1. Faster and more accurate reporting and analysis
2. Better business decisions
3. Improved data quality
4. Improved employee and customer satisfaction
5. Improved operational efficiency

Business intelligence as a field is still evolving and growing, especially with the emerging potential of AI and ML. As companies strive to innovate, BI tools will play a crucial role in providing the insights necessary to succeed. 

BI / Monitoring / Logging Tools

Airbrake is error monitoring software that collects and aggregates errors in web apps for developers. It aims to reduce debug time with real-time alerts, detailed reports, and a web-based dashboard, which allow developers to find and fix bugs as they happen. Features include intelligent error grouping, session details, and backtraces.

Airbrake works best with Ruby, but also supports most major programming languages and frameworks. It integrates with tools like GitHub, Jira, Slack, and more.

APImetrics is an API performance and quality monitoring system that has two primary functions: API monitoring, for taking the pulse of your API product and user experience, and SLA measurement to monitor the performance of third-party APIs that integrate with your product.

AppDynamics is an application performance management (APM) and IT operations analytics (ITOA) platform. It helps to analyze, optimize and predict bottlenecks in complex information systems. This can be done in real time, in product and testing environments, on-site and in the cloud.

Atlas is a dimensional time series database that captures operational intelligence. It was originally developed by Netflix to manage dimensional time series data for near real-time operational insight. Atlas features in-memory data storage, allowing it to gather and report large numbers of metrics very quickly.

Beats are lightweight data shippers that can be installed as agents on your servers to send specific types of operational data to Elasticsearch. Beats have a small footprint and use fewer system resources than Logstash. Elastic provides Beats for capturing audit data, log files, availability, metrics, network traffic, and Windows event logs. Beats can also be created and shared with the open source community.

Centreon is an open-source IT monitoring solution based on industry standards. It covers all infrastructure-related issues, including new cloud technologies like AIOps. Centreon also has the feature to monitor service with different angles, like service on the machine/port/result of a request, and supports cloud augmented architecture.

Datadog is a software as a service (SaaS) data analytics platform that provides monitoring services for cloud-scale applications. It collects data from servers, containers, databases, and third-party services to make your stack observable, and has a flexible monitoring/graphing interface that allows you to display complex graphs without coding.

Datadog is considered to be a best-of-breed monitoring solution and has a lot of integrations out of the box, but also features a heftier price tag compared to other tools in the category.

Dynatrace is an application performance management (APM) software provider that monitors infrastructure to identify application performance issues. It also helps developers, testers and operations to ensure their applications work quickly and reliably by tracing every single transaction (web requests, batch jobs, etc.) from end-to-end.

Dynatrace is easy to install, with very little setup and configuration required. However, it does not offer APM for Ruby.

Elasticsearch is an open source, distributed, JSON-based search and analytics engine. It allows you to perform and combine many types of searches, including structured, unstructured, geo, and metric. Elasticsearch is commonly used with Kibana, a web interface that visualizes log data, and Logstash, a tool that routes logs. When all three tools are used together, they are known as the ELK stack.

FusionReactor finds bottlenecks in your code and database to make Java or ColdFusion applications run more efficiently. The integrated debugger helps find bugs and alleviate technical debt. FusionReactor also monitors apps and databases so that when an error fires, the automatic root cause analysis will trigger and send details of where the error occurred.

Google Analytics is a freemium marketing and analytics platform that tracks and reports website traffic. It allows you to measure digital marketing effectiveness with features like real-time reporting, user flow visualization, funnel analysis, segmentation, and much more. It is the most popular website statistics tool, and integrates seamlessly with other Google services like AdWords and Search Console.

Google Analytics collects data through a JavaScript tag that, once added to every page of the website, gathers visitor information. The tracking code runs in the client browser and is reliant on cookies.

Grafana is an open source visualization tool with support for many databases, including Graphite, InfluxDB, Prometheus, and Elasticsearch. It is designed for analyzing and visualizing metrics such as system CPU, memory, disk and I/O utilization. Grafana does not collect data, but allows you to connect to data sources like Prometheus or Graphite. It is a popular solution for bringing together and visualizing disparate data sources.

In Grafana, users can create versatile dashboards with graph, singlestat, table, heatmap, and freetext panels. Dashboards and panels are fully customizable and can be annotated to track specific events. These dashboards can be used for everything from identifying anomalies and debugging applications, to gaining actionable insights on user behavior.

Graphite is a free, open source tool that monitors and graphs numeric time-series data, which is typically collected from collection daemons or other monitoring solutions, such as Nagios or Prometheus. Once the data is collected, Graphite has a built-in UI that provides useful visualizations via its Django web application. Graphite can be used to track the performance of websites, applications, business services, and networked servers.

While Graphite does not provide plug-ins, there are a lot of existing tools that are Graphite-compatible. Grafana is often used with Graphite to extend its functionality.

Grok is an AI operations (AIOps) platform that proactively resolves IT incidents using machine intelligence and automation. It senses behaviors that lead to downtime using anomaly detection, then triggers actions based on those insights. Its features include customizable dashboards, script-based automation, and intranet embeddable dashboards.

Keen IO is a platform built for developers to ship custom user-facing metrics. It can collect, store, enrich, and then send data to systems like Amazon S3.

Similar to Mixpanel and Kissmetrics, Keen IO provides a code snippet to put in your application, website, or server, at which point it begins recording event data like clicks and conversions. Keen IO has a cloud database that stores that event data, analytics APIs that can run counts, sums, funnels, and more, and visualization tools that allow you to chart and display your data in dashboards.

Kibana is an open source analytics and visualization platform that visualizes log data as charts, graphs, trendlines, maps, and scatter plots. It is commonly used with Elasticsearch, a tool that allows you to search and analyze logs, and Logstash, a tool that routes logs. When all three tools are used together, they are known as the ELK stack.

LogicMonitor possesses an inbuilt AI to detect anomalies and alert you on any range of issues. It monitors applications performance, website metrics, and advanced statistics, as well as the hardware that underlies those services, enabling the development of custom collectors to monitor specific company KPIs.

Logstash is an open source, server-side data processing pipeline that collects, parses, and stores logs. These logs can be system logs, webserver logs, error logs, or app logs. Logstash is commonly used with Kibana, a web interface that visualizes log data, and Elasticsearch, a tool that allows you to search and analyze logs. When all three tools are used together, they are known as the ELK stack.

Moogsoft provides Algorithmic IT Operations (AIOps) solutions that streamline IT incident resolution. Features include noise reduction, agile workflows, event clustering and correlation, and root cause analysis.

Nagios provides enterprise-class open source monitoring including data gathering, data archiving, dashboards, and alerting for systems, networks, and infrastructure. Its products include Nagios XI for server and network monitoring, Nagios Log Server for centralized log management, Nagios Network Analyzer for netflow analysis, and Nagios Fusion for a centralized view of monitoring infrastructure.

Originally released in 2002, Nagios is one of the older monitoring tools still available today. Its strengths lie in its scalability for simple and static setups, easy to understand plugin architecture, and deep ecosystem of plugins for extending functionality. It also has a number of popular direct alternatives including Check_MK, which began life as a Nagios extension, and Icinga, a Nagios fork.

Netreo is an IT Operations full-stack monitoring and AIOps company. They provide a platform for performance and availability monitoring for large enterprise networks, infrastructure, applications, and business services. The auto-refresh functionality is useful when you want to keep a window or tab open, but not worry about missing something. It also has a feature for configuration backup and auto incident resolution.

New Relic's SaaS application monitoring platform (APM) enables developers, ops, and tech teams to measure and monitor the performance of their applications and infrastructure. New Relic can identify performance issues, monitor page performance, and send notifications for certain metrics. It provides proactive management, allowing organizations to detect, track, and fix errors in their websites before customers are affected.

Features include New Relic Radar, which provides a personalized feed of cards designed to highlight abnormal behavior within the application, and dynamic baselines, which use historical data to predict logical thresholds for what constitutes an abnormality. New Relic does not handle logs, but integrates with logging tools like Splunk and Sumo Logic.

Opsgenie by Atlassian is a cloud-based incident management platform for operating always-on services. It provides reliable alerts, on-call schedule management, and escalations. In terms of standout features, it has a quiet hours feature that lets you disable alerts, as well as a heartbeats feature that generates notifications if scheduled jobs don't check in within the allotted timeframe. OpsGenie has a friendly UI that's easy to use, as well as competitive pricing.

PagerDuty is an incident management platform for IT departments that provides reliable incident notifications via email, push, SMS, and phone, as well as automatic escalations, on-call scheduling, and other functionality to help teams detect and fix infrastructure problems quickly.

Pingdom's website monitoring platform enables you to monitor your website's availability and performance with features like uptime monitoring, real user monitoring, synthetic interaction testing, page speed monitoring, alerting, and root cause analysis. It also offers a popular free tool, the Pingdom Website Speed Test, which can be used to test your website or a competitor's website for load time, page size, and performance in general. Pingdom was acquired by SolarWinds in 2014.

Pinpoint is an Application Performance Management (APM) tool for large-scale distributed systems written in Java/PHP. Inspired by Dapper, Pinpoint provides a solution to help analyze the overall structure of the system and how components within them are interconnected by tracing transactions across distributed applications. It is useful for visualizing application topology, real-time application monitoring, and code-level visibility for transactions.

Prometheus is an open source monitoring system originally built at SoundCloud. It collects metrics from configured targets at given intervals, evaluates rule expressions, displays the results, and can trigger alerts if some condition is observed to be true. Its features include a multi-dimensional data model, flexible query language, autonomous single server nodes, and multiple modes of graphing and dashboarding support.

Many DevOps organizations are moving towards Prometheus because it is native to containerized environments and integrates with Kubernetes.

PRTG monitors all of the systems, devices, traffic, and applications of your IT infrastructure using technologies like SNMP (ready to use and custom options), WMI - Windows Performance Counters, and SSH (Linux/Unix and macOS). It provides an alert system that can be configured on email and SMS.

Raygun is a cloud-based monitoring and bug tracking platform that offers crash reporting, application performance monitoring, and real user monitoring. Features include a powerful search function built on ElasticSearch that allows you to drill in with query modifiers, smart notifications, application health charts, and excellent support for languages like Ruby, Java, JavaScript, PHP, .NET, ColdFusion, and more.

Riemann is an open source monitoring tool written in Clojure. It aggregates events from hosts and applications and can feed them into a stream processing language to be manipulated, summarized, or actioned.

Rollbar provides real-time error alerting and debugging tools for developers. Its features include support for all major languages including JS, PHP, Ruby, .Net, and WordPress, smart error grouping, code deployment tracking, custom log messages, JavaScript source maps, and full-text searching.

Runscope is a software as a service (SaaS) company that provides solutions for API performance testing, monitoring and debugging. It allows software developers, QA testers, DevOps engineers, and other API stakeholders to collaborate in creating, managing and executing functional API tests and monitors.

Sensu is an open source monitoring tool written in Ruby. It monitors servers, services, and application health, and sends alerts and notifications with the help of third-party integrations. Sensu can use either RabbitMQ or Redis to handle messages, and uses Redis to store data.

Sentry is an open source error tracking tool platform that helps developers to monitor and fix crashes in real time. It can monitor physical servers, virtual servers, disk arrays, fiber switches, tape libraries, and custom applications.

Splunk is a software platform for searching, monitoring, and analyzing machine data in real time. It aims to make machine data accessible by identifying data patterns, providing metrics, diagnosing problems, and providing intelligence for business operations.

Vector is an open source performance monitoring tool. It provides a simple way for users to visualize and analyze system and application-level metrics in near real-time.

Vizceral is a component for displaying traffic data on a webgl canvas. Once a graph of nodes and edges with data about traffic volume is provided, it will render a traffic graph animating the connection volume between nodes. It was originally developed to understand the state of Netflix's complex microservice architecture in any given region, at a glance, when performing a traffic failover.

Zabbix is an enterprise-class open source monitoring tool for diverse IT components, including networks, servers, virtual machines (VMs) and cloud services. It monitors thousands of metrics collected from physical machines or virtual machines, and displays them through a web-based management interface. The core strength of Zabbix is in monitoring custom parameters that are not supported by standard monitoring methods.

Zipkin is an open source distributed tracing system for microservices, first developed by Twitter to track Web requests. It helps to gather and manage timing data needed to troubleshoot latency problems in microservice architectures.

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