I’ve been a professional computery person for about 20 years as of the time I’m writing this. I’ve enjoyed working on ways to make my computer systems shit “observable” for at least 15 of those 20 years.
My first stab at making systems more observable was a cron job that periodically output Solaris’ sar counters to… something. I forget were the state was kept. Probably just the filesystem. On a single box, cuz that was how we rolled back then. Each evening, I’d generate a transparent GIF from the day’s counters. The fancy tool I wrote, likely some sort of Perl script, let you put in a number of days and overlaid the fucking GIFs. Day over day comparison, motherfuckers!
Overly Ambitious Middles
Fast forward a couple years, but at the same company. Now I’m considerably more badass. I created Loggerithim. The idea was to learn the rhythm of your systems using software. Algorithim is a software word, sooooo Logger-ithm! Except I didn’t know how to spell algorithm at the time. Hyuck!
Loggerithim worked with Solaris and Linux machines, since that’s what we ran at this company. Each host ran the loggeragent. This agent, written in C, used plugins to enable metric collection, information gathering and even some manner of system automation. The idea that developed over many years was that the system that collected all this data could eventually act on it, right?
Loggerithim was so fucking awesome. It did basically everything. Inventory? You got it. It kept historical time series information for all manner of system metrics. It monitored thresholds and notified us of problems. It even logged event data to correlate it with… I dunno important stuff. On top of that it used SSL. For all I know it even used it correctly!
To this day former coworkers from that period of my career ask me if I still work on Loggerithim. They remember it proudly and fondly. What’s not to love about that?
A Career Follows
Up to the present day, this has been my favorite part of working with complex computer systems. In some ways I think that I like working with and building these systems so that I can then visualize and study them!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little digression into my past. There’s another one of these I’m gonna write up next describing the deep, deep rabbit hole I ended up in after Loggerithim.