[Video] Webinar - Your guide on how to monitor SharePoint performance

In this webinar, we took a closer look at one of our latest feature – SharePoint performance monitoring.
We divided this webinar into several sections so we could cover the main SysKit segments with an emphasis on how to effortlessly monitor SharePoint performance. Scroll down to the end of this blog for a webinar recording.

Silvio Rahle, our product marketing manager, guides you through the first section, and then Frane Borozan, SysKit product owner, takes it from there with a live demo explaining the new feature in full detail. Once Frane finishes the demo, we go to the Q&A section.

We discuss the following key segments in this SharePoint performance monitoring webinar:

  • What SysKit is and its key benefits when it comes to server monitoring
  • Detailed overview of the SysKit SharePoint performance monitoring feature
  • Use cases and best practices for common SharePoint performance issues

Short introduction to SysKit

For those of you who aren’t familiar with SysKit, it’s a server monitoring tool engineered to improve system admins’ daily tasks. The complex routine tasks sysadmins face no longer require hours and hours of manual work and inspection. The entire server environment can be monitored from a single agentless console: SysKit.

And if you really want to get your monitoring groove on, SysKit is also available as a web application! You can reach your server environment data from anywhere at any moment.

Let’s start the application demo, shall we?

First, SysKit is installed on a dedicated server. All you need to do afterwards is add your servers. This can include multiple servers, SharePoint farms, SQL Servers, Web Front End servers, and so on.

I should mention one important detail: SysKit doesn’t deploy agents to your servers. Instead, it uses an existing WMI and TS APIs to gather all the necessary information.

Performance counters and SysKit monitoring templates

We worked closely with Microsoft while developing SysKit performance counters. Microsoft provided us some default metrics and values related to monitoring complex server environments.

With the monitoring templates feature, we hope we have provided the ability to monitor performance counters for your entire environment. This is very important because an average server environment contains different server roles, and monitoring each server, one by one, isn’t really an option. It takes too much time and you can easily get lost and miss some potential issues. The whole point is to provide an optimal usage experience, and that can only be achieved with meticulous server performance monitoring.

Monitoring templates consist of performance counters that are important for a particular server role, as well as Windows services. Frane also discusses a use case with Windows services that have stopped working. In this case, SysKit can be configured to restart the service and automatically send you an email alert updating you on the cause.

For example, the SQL Server has a list of predefined performance counters suggested by Microsoft. Those values are the warning and critical threshold values for each SQL Server you monitor.

If you need to tweak any of SysKit’s predefined values, you can easily modify them or create a custom monitoring template and assign it to each server.

How to monitor SharePoint performance

As we mentioned before, SysKit gathers data from the WMI to enable you to drill down to the specific process on the server and performance for that particular process, giving you an overview of the specific server.

There are some universal and basic metrics you need to keep an eye on such as CPU, memory, hard disks, and network.

What to look for when monitoring SharePoint performance

Monitoring SharePoint performance is no easy task. To get a deeper understanding of what’s going on with your SharePoint servers you might want to focus on:

  • Preventing disks from running out of space
  • Keeping an eye on physical memory
  • Auditing database latency
  • Making sure your WFE and APP servers have adequate response times
  • Avoiding resource overutilization
  • Planning appropriate SQL Server deployment
  • Verifying that your SQL Servers have enough RAM

Drill down into the SharePoint performance metrics and determine whether there are any critical values within the performance counters. You can’t miss them; they’ll be flashing in red.

Here’s a good example.

SysKit alerts you about a critical value in the web service and tells you that 200 anonymous users per second are trying to access the IIS server. What does that tell you?

It’s an indication that something strange is going on since unauthenticated users are trying to access the SharePoint farm so you must take immediate action.

The whole idea behind monitoring SharePoint performance is to catch potential issues early and prevent them from causing serious problems. For more specific details on what to monitor when it comes to SharePoint farms, refer to our SharePoint monitoring blog post.

Table of contents

00:17 About Acceleratio Ltd.
03:35 Introduction to SysKit
06:12 SharePoint performance monitoring overview
11:26 Demo: How to monitor SharePoint performance by Frane Borozan
27:56 Q&A

As always, there were pretty awesome questions. If you have more questions on this topic, ask away!

Q: How different is this from Microsoft Performance Monitor?
A: Performance Monitor is a native Microsoft tool lacking historical trends. Once it gathers data, it’s very hard to tell what’s what. In addition, Microsoft Performance Monitor doesn’t have any thresholds. You end up with 100 counters that offer some random values and that basically tell you nothing about exactly where the issue is. We invested a lot of knowledge and time into developing SysKit, particularly so we could provide thresholds that tell you exactly what the problem seems to be.

Q: Can you check authenticated users and trends?
A: Yes, you can. Any counter and trend can be tracked in real time and historically. For example, you can track how your users are growing within a SharePoint farm during a certain time frame. Then you can add new servers to the farm, if needed, and maintain optimal performance.

Q:  What are some key advantages of SysKit over SCOM?
A: SysKit offers one obvious difference: you don’t need two weeks to wrap your head around the application and figure out how to install it, let alone comprehend the metrics. While we were developing SysKit, we wanted to create a simple solution and an easy way to monitor your servers, so we came up with an application that can be up and running in just a few minutes once you download it. You can generate your first data 10 minutes after you’ve installed it. Once you’re done with the installation, you can organize your servers into logical server groups and start monitoring. Another awesome thing about SysKit is that it doesn’t have an agent that causes overhead on the monitoring servers. Also, unlike SCOM, SysKit can show you the performance of every process in your SharePoint farm.

Q: What service account or privileges must SysKit be installed under? Does the service account need local permissions on the SP servers?
A: SysKit only needs local admin permissions for the SharePoint server (no farm admin account is needed). That’s the only requirement since the application doesn't install anything on the remote SharePoint servers.  For that reason, some kind of permission is required to connect to the remote server and gather all the various statistics from the Servers.

Q: Does this tool reside on a SharePoint server or on a client PC? How do I connect to servers in a different domain? Did you connect via URL? Are there any special ports that need to be open to get through a firewall?
A: Network ports are available here. SysKit can be installed across the domain using data collectors or if you have the adequate permissions, and the domain is in the same data center­­. You can just specify different credentials for the extra domain. Then SysKit will serve as that domain account and use these credentials to gather the data.

Q: How large can these “log” databases be for 1 farm or even multiple farms?
A:  Logs usually take around 40MB of data per server per month. However, this depends on the activity of your servers and the size of your farms.

Q: Is it possible to watch/monitor over a timeframe?  Sometimes I need to use the Performance Monitor have some Templates (WFE/APP/DB), start the Collection and after this I need to use PAL to report and analyze the timeframe?
A: SysKit is always collecting data in the background as a Windows service so all the data will be in your database if you do not specify a retention policy. If you do specify a policy, you can always configure SysKit to delete, for example, all logs older than 6 months.

Q: If the license is per server, how do you handle SQL on a cluster? Does the SQL instance count as one server?
A: An SQL cluster goes into as a single license from the licensing perspective. Licensing is per server of the SharePoint farm.

Q: Can you monitor page load performance? For instance, if I give you an URL, can you throw an alert when it exceeds 10 seconds?
A: We cannot do this at this moment, but stay tuned for the next release–there will be an option to specify a SharePoint URL for monitoring. Based on specific rules, you will be able to configure SysKit to send you an alert, e.g., if a site is not responding, if a page load is above 10 seconds, etc.

Q: What gap does this tool fill that is not filled by SharePoint 2013?
A: SysKit allows you to have a centralized overview of different farms. Without installing anything directly on your SharePoint servers, you can gather all the necessary metrics for your various server roles.

Q: What about the overheads on the platform? Do I need to get more memory from my servers?
A: SysKit is installed on the dedicated server and all the processing is offloaded to the SysKit server, which is agentless–nothing is installed on the SharePoint farm.

Q: Where you are getting the values for a specific role (WFE/APP/DB)? Are they are coming from your experience, or do you use recommendations from MS?
A: We worked based on certain Microsoft suggestions and their best practices are implemented in our templates by default. Of course, this depends on the environment, and sometimes you need to tweak the values. Before you do so, it would be best to discuss it with our support engineers to determine exactly what you need to tweak in your environment.

Q: What are the email alert options?
A: You can receive alerts via emails about performance counters and services, and then you can adjust how often you want to receive them and other options.

Q: Can we get a full copy for evaluation?
A: You can download SysKit and use the fully featured 30-day trial. When you decide to purchase SysKit, simply enter the license key and continue where you left off.

How did you like our webinar? If you’re interested in finding out more about SysKit or if you want to suggest a topic for the next webinar, let us know.

Give our awesome sales department a nudge if you want to schedule a personalized demo. We’d be happy to provide more details about how your server environment can be easily monitored and audited with SysKit.

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