Announcing a New Version of SmartTrack – Operational Analytics for SharePoint
As many of my readers know, BinaryWave is primarily in the business of creating and supporting software products for the SharePoint market. Some we do just for fun, some we build for partners and some we sell under our own brand. In the latter category, we are especially fond of our industry-leading SmartTrack product – the only operational analytics solution built specifically for SharePoint.
Over the last few of years we have learned quite a bit about the struggles of maintaining a mission-critical SharePoint environment within the enterprise. One of the most common complaints we hear is the lack of visibility into operational metrics. Even when we expose the mountains of data hiding within the ULS logs and make it easy to visualize, filter and process, there is still a big disconnect between what is happening on the user’s desktop and what goes on behind the scenes within a server farm. Although SharePoint is really good (too good, in some cases) at filling up log files with mountains of data, it doesn’t tell operational personnel much at all when it comes to the user experience. When an unexpected error occurs and gets flagged in a SmartTrack alert, administrators still have no idea how many people were affected, how the error manifested itself on the front end, or what level of interruption it caused.
We figured there had to be a way to bridge this gap so we set about finding a solution. The obvious answer was to parse the IIS traffic logs and extract the data into a more usable format. But that information alone, which is readily available from a multitude of commercial and open source tools, isn’t sufficient. It has to be viewed in context with operational data from the server itself and the entire SharePoint stack. It’s no good knowing a user received a 404 error without also knowing what SharePoint was doing at that precise moment which might have contributed to the problem. Plus, administrators need to know how often such errors happen and what overall effect they have on farm health metics. All those uptime tools are nice but downward red arrows on a dashboard don’t actually help sysops track down the root cause of a problem.
So rather than offer another "me too" IIS log parsing utility, we decided instead to treat client requests as first-class data within the overall farm event stream. After all, shouldn’t a 500 Internal Server Error be of equal cause for concern as a "System.NullReferenceException" in a publishing page? And, even better, wouldn’t it be helpful to know if the two events occurred at the same time on the same server just after the average SQL query execution counter spikes upwards? Now that’s the kind of information that can actually help you keep SharePoint running and prevent excessive downtime.
After a few months spent solving this particular problem, and a some others we discovered along the way, I’m pleased to announce the general availability of SmartTrack version 1.5. Now, for the first time, on-premise SharePoint customers can easily trace errors from the desktop to the database with just a few clicks. SharePoint ULS logs, Windows Server event logs, performance counters and now IIS logs in one single, integrated event stream. No big monitoring frameworks to install, management packs to configure or rules to write – SmartTrack starts working immediately and its advanced health algorithms automatically learn farm behavior patterns without user intervention. All in an easy-to-use cloud-based application that looks great on any sized device (for those who can’t yet leverage the cloud, don’t worry – there’s a fully on-premise version just for you). SmartTrack is the only operational analytics solution designed from the ground up for SharePoint administrators, system operations personnel and managed service providers.
Here are some highlights from the new version:
- IIS log event capture across all web servers in a farm.
- New “servers at a glance” display in the SmartTrack dashboard that summarizes the operational health of servers in each farm right on the main page.
- New “Web” category for sorting, filtering and searching IIS log events in the details panel.
- Improved event categorization and alerting.
- For on-premise customers, an all-new management service that automates database maintenance operations to ensure optimal performance.
- Dedicated mail server that eliminates the need for Exchange relay setup and outdated Windows Server SMTP configuration.
- Improved event exclusion processing.
- Enhanced user creation for secure on-premise farms that are not connected to the public internet.
- Numerous bug fixes and performance enhancements.
Interested? Visit the SmartTrack product page and request a free trial. When you’re ready to buy, request a quote using offer code "SPCOWBOY" for a 20% discount. Get your SharePoint environment under control and save money at the same time – can’t beat that!
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