Book Preview: What’s This Got to Do With Monitoring?

(Here’s an excerpt from my book “The Four Questions Every Monitoring Engineer is Asked”. To keep reading, check out this page for the print and ebook editions:

I’ve posted a couple of essays that show the Jewish aspect of my book, but I haven’t yet shown how that all fits into IT in general, or monitoring specifically. So I thought I’d rectify that as we head into the final weekend before the go-live date. Enjoy this excerpt and I hope it makes you curious to read the rest of the book.


Most people who work in monitoring don’t set out with that intent. Most of us are, by and large, network engineers, sysadmins, storage architects, or even infosec professionals. But in the course of our workday, we find ourselves wanting (or more likely needing) to know about the health of our environment. Therefore, we create or adopt tools to help us do that.

And then, surprise! We discover that the tools and techniques, not to mention the results, end up being interesting, engaging, and even fun. We extend our tools, develop our techniques, and see just how far the rabbit hole we created can go.

When other people start to notice what we’ve done or discovered, there’s a very good chance that they will ask us to do the same for them. We become a monitoring engineer the moment we set our feet on that path.

But once we provide monitoring to other people, we inevitably, find ourselves answering The Four Questions. These are questions which—for reasons that will become apparent—we never really had to ask when we were doing it on our own. The four questions of monitoring are:

  • Why did I get an alert?
  • Why didn’t I get an alert?
  • What is being monitored on my system?
  • What will alert on my system?

In the following chapters, I’m going to dig into each of these questions and explore why they get asked, how they ought to be answered, and how we can effectively prepare for them in advance.

But the takeaway I want to hold onto right now is this: When we decide to take on the role of monitoring engineer, these questions will be asked. Anticipate and look forward to these moments, because it means the person you’re talking to is interested rather than apathetic. Rather than filling us with dread, let it inform our choices. If someone questions our knowledge, be comforted by the fact that every inquiry is an opportunity to teach and share. Recognize that if our colleagues are asking us questions, they view us as an expert.

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