Here they are, the monitoring archetypes. See if you recognise any of these traits…

The Hoarder

“I have thousands of alerts every day from all my devices and monitoring systems. I save them all, much like I do with my emails. I keep them as a record and because I have so many, none of them get dealt with efficiently.

My desktop is littered with hundreds of documents.

I can look back and see where my problems occurred and when I received those alerts, if I spend a few hours sorting.

Eventually I might have some data for that root cause for you.”

The Hoarder always has numerous gadgets and toys all over their desk, a clean desk policy isn’t something they like very much. Hoarders often hoard information too, so sometimes they hold the keys to solving all your problems.


The Chaos Merchant/Fire Fighter

“I’ve never configured anything properly because I spend all my time dealing with problems. I’ve never had the opportunity to save myself some time by grouping nodes, setting up filters, or adding in any kind of automation.

My dashboards are a mess and my databases are unkempt. I have a lot of wrinkles.”

I’m sure we’ve all been here, amongst the ruins of a root cause analysis and not given time to fix things properly.


The Eagle Eye

“Every node has 50 custom fields all filled in. Every detail is recorded, and the Eagle Eye’s change process is the most detailed you’ll ever come across.

It may take a month to write a change and have it approved as I created the change process.

If I see an event, it must be explained, even if it takes all day.

My diagrams are all so up-to-date, projects have to stop so I can update them all.

My auditing log and my recordkeeping is exemplary, but the people working around me don’t feel they achieve much, and I speak in a slow and measured tone.”

An eye for detail is important and an alert slipping by in all the noise can be spotted by these guys, who can save the day.


The Lonely Shinobi / Kunoichi

“I know how things should work and how it all should go together, but the rest of the team keeps unravelling it all.”

The shinobi’s hard work is pulled apart and misunderstood.

Every change made is undone by someone who hasn’t had any training and doesn’t understand the software.

If you team up with this individual, you might change the world. Shinobis might cry themselves to sleep at night, but on the rarest of occasions, they pull it off.


The Inquisitor

“This environment is a mess!”

“How am I supposed to deal with all these events?”

“What does this graph mean?”

“Why doesn’t it display the way I want it to?”

“I want a big green dot, not an amber one.”

“Can you generate me a chart showing all the things?”

“I want a report showing every single configuration item. You have five minutes… It should be easy…”

The inquisitor asks a lot of questions but is never happy with the answers provided. If an answer is provided, then you can be assured more questions will follow. Like the Eagle Eye, these individuals have an eye for detail. Get the Inquisitor on your team and they may pick up on issues you may have missed.


The Ride Along

“I’m just here for the ride. I’m always the first in the queue when there’s free food in the office.”

“I like to agree with you and I’m one of those individuals who isn’t technical, but if pushed I could be.”

I see alerts come in and I’d love you to deal with them so I don’t have to.”

Working wouldn’t be as much fun without a ride along. The stories. The jokes. The personality.

The Ride Along taught me to walk away from a problem and come back after a cup of tea.

The Ride Along also taught me about the three-reboot rule.


The Just Do It / Knee-Jerker

“I just received a confusing alert. It looks important. (It isn’t important at all; I just haven’t got a clue what I am looking at).”

“I can’t take working here anymore… nobody has any sense of urgency.”

“I call anyone who tries to put in an automated solution too helpful and I tell them to ‘just do it’ a lot. The JDI or Knee-Jerker can often be spotted by their tell-tale heart monitor.”

These are, in my opinion, the product of a system gone wrong. A wailing entity who should never exist. A little harsh, you say?


Frustrated Horace

Horace gets annoyed and can often be a little overenthusiastic when presented with small technical challenges.

When an alert is raised, Horace overreacts, blames the network, the storage, the weather, and then runs out of the room waving his hands and yelling.

We’ve all been here—we’ve spent all week configuring a storage array or an Exchange server and one nasty alert gets highlighted by management and sets us off.


No Requirement Horace

“I want you to alert me when there’s a problem, but I’m not sure what I want to know… or who I want to tell or when I want to know about it, but it’s critical and this must work.”

The cry of a desperate project manager… Who needs requirements?


Military Horace / The Bull

“A bit about my background,” “I was in the military you know.”

Horace explains to his staff about how he handles alerts personally.

Horace tells you about his violent past; he used to be “out of control.”

Horace often explains how to gut an impala and shows you his bullet wound.

Horace curses a lot.

Horace has a set of walkie-talkies for P1 alerts strapped to his waist. Sometimes the mobile signal gets so bad in the server room, it’s a priority to keep the outage bridge going even over the crackling radio waves.

There’s one in every company.

Usually a great person when you get to know them, but all alerts and mundane events get turned into a military exercise.


The Proselytising Engineer

“I spend my time working on spiritual projects. You should come and join me on a Sunday. We have free donuts.”

These individuals often have some funny ideas about life, but it makes your job philosophically interesting to listen to an “Ommmmmm” coming from the server room, especially when a P1 alert hits the critical alerts dashboard.


The Painter / Denialist

“I look through the nodes and see lots of mistakes, this software is terrible.”

“I shall unmanage all the nodes that I know are not being monitored correctly.”

The painter just wants to help but doesn’t have any confidence in the software, cannot immediately see what the problem is.

The painter thinks that the monitoring software is the issue and not the network or the node.

To fix the issue he/she makes things ten times worse by removing all the nodes.

Thanks for your help painter. This one needs limited permissions and a close eye.

Also known as “the fiddler” and the “I know how it works” and the “I’ve done this before hundreds of time and it worked perfectly before”.


The Well-Oiled Team

“We follow a predefined set of processes for a methodical, productive route to success.

“We deal with alerts as they’re raised because we already have an automated process for event-driven alerts.

“The right people are contacted and the right actions taken.

“Automation is key for us.

“We like to sleep.

“Our alerts are taken care of.”

This is the pinnacle. The ultimate. But where’s the fun in that?


If you recognised any of these traits / archetypes leave me a comment below to let me know which one.

(This post has been posted on 13/12/2019 on the Solarwinds THWACK forum as part of the 2019 Writing Challenge.)