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Don't wait to be proactive

Monitor Groups and Dashboard Filter features added to the monitoring dashboard

We released a couple new improvements to the Knowledge Front interface and wanted to share some details with you.

Monitor Groups

Some of our clients keep a watchful eye on dozens of critical websites and email servers. We’ve added a new feature to the monitoring dashboard that lets you create Monitor Groups to help you sort through all of this real-time monitoring data.

Monitor Groups are just simple, logical groupings of Monitors that you’d like to group together for quick viewing and filtering on your dashboard.

Create groups for specific cloud service providers, geographic regions, or environments… the options are limitless and you’re in control to customize the Monitor Groups in a meaningful way for the infrastructure you support.

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Dashboard Filter

Related to Monitor Groups, we’ve also added a new Dashboard Filter feature that lets you only display your Monitors that are in an Alert state on the monitoring dashboard. This one-touch button lets you quickly view any Monitors that require your immediate attention.

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As your infrastructure grows, the volume of monitoring data will grow along with it. We hope these two new interface features will help you sort through this data and stay on top of your infrastructure.

We love hearing from our clients! Please send us any feedback or new feature requests.

Knowledge Front team

Don’t wait to be proactive!

HTTP NTLM Authentication

Recently we updated our HTTP Monitor to support NTLM Authentication.

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With this update it is now possible to monitor many types of Windows services such as Microsoft’s SharePoint. If there are any questions or requests for further enhancements let us know

Heartbleed OpenSSL Bug

On April 7th a severe security bug was disclosed in the OpenSSL library (CVE-2014-0160). After performing a comprehensive review of public facing services it has been determined that Knowledge Front does not use any version of OpenSSL with the Heartbleed vulnerability. We are also taking steps to refresh authentication tokens and passwords with our own service providers after confirming the vulnerability has been fixed on their services.

If there is anything we can do to help or any questions feel free to contact us:

MX Update for Microsoft Services

If you are still using mail.global.frontbridge.com as your MX record in conjunction with any of the Microsoft hosted e-mail services such as FOPE (Forefront Online Protection for Exchange) it may be time to update to mail.messaging.microsoft.com

Recently we learned that one of the IP addresses backing the mail.global.frontbridge.com DNS record has stopped responding to network requests. Upon further investigation turns out this legacy DNS record is being deprecated and Microsoft asks everyone to use the newer mail.messaging.microsoft.com record.

The old mail.global.frontbridge.com record has been around for the better part of a decade and has survived through an acquisition by Sprint and then a move to Microsoft, but it looks like it’s finally time for retirement.

10 Minute Guide to Sending Knowledge Front Alerts with PagerDuty

Knowledge Front’s network monitoring service provides e-mail, SMS, and voice call alerting for your monitors… and it also hooks nicely into an alerting service like PagerDuty so that you can send alerts to your on-call technical staff.

(note: this guide assumes you’re already using both Knowledge Front and PagerDuty services.)

To start you’ll want to open up your web browser and load up a tab for your PagerDuty website and another for the Knowledge Front website… we’ll be flipping between the two a few times to get this integration rocking and tested.

Step 1 - Add New Service

Log onto your PagerDuty website and look for the action to “Add New Service.”

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You’ll need to provide just a few bits of information for this new service:

  • Name: recommend using “Knowledge Front”
  • Escalation Policy: Default, or a custom policy you’ve already defined and use in PagerDuty
  • Type: Generic email system
  • Integration Email: consider changing to something not easily guessed, and copy this address… we’re going to need it for configuring alerts in Knowledge Front!

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Step 2 - Add E-mail Filters to Service

Once the initial service configuration is done, you’ll want to use “Edit this service” to add e-mail filters to help control the behavior of PagerDuty as it receives e-mail alerts from Knowledge Front:

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Important note: in this example we set a subject line regex that is uber-specific to a single Knowledge Front alert… you may need to use a more generic subject line regex, or experiement without, to find your sweet spot when managing multiple alerts.

Awesome! Now we’ve got our PagerDuty account ready to receive incoming alerts from Knowledge Front thru this email integration service.

You can confirm this by viewing the “Services” dashboard in PagerDuty:

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Step 3 - Add New Alert Destination

Next up is to configure a new alert destination in Knowledge Front to send emails to PagerDuty when Knowledge Front alerts are triggered for your monitors.

Log onto the Knowledge Front website. Select “Configuration”->”Alert Destinations” from the main menu. Use the “Add Alert Destination” form to configure a new e-mail destination for your custom PagerDuty integration e-mail address:

  • Label: recommend using “PagerDuty”
  • Destination type: Email
  • Destination: <paste integration e-mail here>

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If you know you’d like this alert integration activated for all of your existing alerts, just click on “Add to all alerts” and then save.

Step 4 - Adding Alert to Monitors and Testing

Last step is to add the new PagerDuty alert destination to your monitors and trigger a test alert to validate the integration is working OK. Select “Configuration”->”Monitor Settings” from the main menu. On this screen, select one of your monitors and “View Alerts”->”Edit Alert”. If you selected “Add to all alerts” when setting up the new PagerDuty alert destination, then that new alert destination should be selected in the destinations list… otherwise go ahead and select it. Now, just use “Test Alert” to trigger a test alert:

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Flipping back to your PagerDuty “Incidents” dashboard, you should see a new incident from the Knowledge Front service (and any of your configured e-mail or SMS notifications within PagerDuty should fire off as well):

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That’s it! Of course, Knowledge Front is built to send e-mail, SMS, and voice call alerts directly to your technical staff should you not use an on-call service like PagerDuty… but this gives you the flexibility and option of leveraging a common alerting service within your IT operations.

Monitoring additional DNS record types

A, CNAME, and PTR

The first generation of our DNS monitor did simple A record queries. Good enough to get the basic records necessary for life on the Internet, and quickly we had many requests to expand the types of records available. Based on these requests we have added CNAME and PTR records to the DNS monitoring roster.

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Inspecting results

We have also added a new option for DNS monitoring.

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Sometimes the answer for a DNS query is unknown (dynamically changing environments) or out of your control (recursive server). Still it is important to know that the DNS query is working. When the Inspect answers flag is unchecked the DNS monitor will accept any valid response as a successful test making it possible to monitor the DNS server, even if the answer is not known.

Interface updates imminent

In the next few days the web sites for Mailive! and Knowledge Front will receive major updates. We’re putting these updates in place to improve the usability of our monitoring services.

What’s better?

  • Enhanced mobile and tablet support! We’re introducing a new responsive design for improved consistency across phones, tablets, and traditional browsers. responsive
  • Smaller and faster load times! Our philosophy is to make monitoring and alerting simple and reliable for you, so there’s not much extra eye candy to get in the way of the user experience.

What’s changed?

  • Configuration and Settings menus have moved to the top. topmenu
  • The redundant alert configuration page has been removed. For now. Since it was only a slightly different layout of the same information available under the Monitor Configuration it has been set aside for the moment. Future plans include bulk editing of alert settings at which time it will resurface.

As with any substantial change there may be a few issues that, even after months of testing, only come out in the real world. Let us know of any problems and we will fix them as fast as possible.

Scheduled Maintenance 4/14/2013

On Sunday April 14th, beginning at 3pm US/Central and lasting approximately 30 minutes, we will be performing database upgrades on the primary production databases. We have scheduled 30 minutes, but in testing the upgrades and the subsequent checkouts took very little time.

All services will be stopped during the database upgrade including the www.knowledgefront.com and www.mailive.com sites as well as monitoring and alerting. We will post status updates on our blog (http://weblog.knowledgefront.com) as well as our Twitter account (https://twitter.com/KnowledgeFront).

Contact us with any questions https://www.knowledgefront.com/support/

Microsoft Forefront and Mailive SMTP Monitoring

Last night (Feb 25th, 2013) around 5pm Central time Microsoft’s Forefront service FPE changed its security policies and began blocking most Mailive! test messages.

In the Forefront control panel it will be necessary to whitelist the sender mailive@knowledgefront.com or the IP Range where the test messages originate: 71.5.105.193 - 71.5.105.198 (netblock 71.5.105.192/29 or 71.5.105.192/255.255.255.248).

If there are any questions or problems feel free to contact us and we will help out any way we can.

Monitoring Websites using Knowledge Front’s HTTP Monitor

Using Knowledge Front’s HTTP monitoring service is a simple, reliable and trusted way to externally monitor your websites. Our clients use the HTTP monitor to keep a close watch on their businesses’ websites hosted in a variety of environments:

  • on-premise data centers
  • 3rd party colocation sites
  • PaaS providers such as Heroku and Google App Engine
  • IaaS providers such as Amazon EC2, Rackspace, and Linode

Externally monitoring your websites provides insight into the responsiveness of your site from your customer’s perspective. The service provides the confidence in knowing that your support staff will immediately be notified of any service disruptions.

This tutorial will demonstrate how you can get a new HTTP monitor and alert configured in a few minutes. Our motto is “don’t wait to be proactive”… it doesn’t take much to go from not knowing about issues with your site to knowing immediately!

After logging into the Knowledge Front dashboard you can add a new monitor using the guided process found under “Monitor Settings” -> “Add a Monitor”: image_1

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To start monitoring your web site we’ll elect to use the “Basic HTTP monitor” from the growing list of monitors that Knowledge Front provides: image_3

The basic inputs into the HTTP monitor are:

  • Name of the monitor
  • Testing interval
  • Time zone
  • URL of the site/resource to monitor

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When you’re finished with the HTTP monitor configuration you can test the monitor to receive immediate feedback, ensuring Knowledge Front’s monitoring stations can reach your URL: image_5

Next step, add an alert for your new monitor to receive immediate notifications of any service disruption: image_6

In this example, we’d like to know when our website is down and then back up: image_7

For every monitor you can specify an alert destination (e-mail, SMS) for the alert notifications: image_9

You have the freedom to customize the subject and message an alert will send for both the “Down” and “Up” alerts: image_10

If the HTTP monitor fails to reach your website, the “Down” alert you configured will trigger and send an immediate notification to your specified destination. In this example, we received a simple “Down” e-mail: image_12

You can also view the monitor failures from the monitoring dashboard: image_11

Once your website is back on-line and service is restored, the HTTP monitor will confirm by sending the “Up” alert you configured to your specific destination. In this case, we are receiving a simple “Up” e-mail: image_14

You should be able to refresh the monitor dashboard to see the latest graph, including the successful attempts to reach your website: image_15

Knowledge Front’s HTTP monitor can be used to watch over any number of your businesses’ web services:

  • SaaS applications
  • Marketing and sales websites
  • Web-based APIs

For more information, please check out our HTTP monitoring help page at: http://www.knowledgefront.com/help/monitor/http.html

Or get in touch with us! We love talking about monitoring.

Knowledge Front Team

http://www.knowledgefront.com/support