Monitoring Meets the Cloud at

There’s a new external monitoring service from Zoho called Site 24×7, and it’s a service you really want to check out. Zoho brings website monitoring and more to the cloud, with a number of capabilities that admins have wanted for years but been hard-pressed to find.
It starts with a free trial. Site24x7 lets you test drive the full package for fifteen days, after which, it will downgrade to a free account with some reduced functionality if you don’t opt in for the full meal deal, but you will. They are so sure you will they don’t even ask for a credit card or billing information. You can be up and running in minutes.

When you sign up, Site24x7 starts out by letting you know the source address email alerts will come from, so you can whitelist them on your mail server. That’s actually a really good idea, as I have seen too many alerts from other systems get blocked by the spam trap.


You are now ready to start setting up monitors. Site24x7 offers a ton of monitors, all of which are quick and easy to configure. You can monitor any or all of the following services with ease.

  1. Websites
  2. Web Applications
  3. Server Monitor
  4. DNS
  5. Email RTTs
  6. Web page analysis
  7. Specific TCP ports (SYN tests)
  8. POP3
  9. SMTP
  10. Ping
  11. SSL Certificates
  12. FTP
  13. FTP RTT

Each can be setup with the click of a button, and up and running in moments. This is one of the broadest ranges of monitoring type I have seen, and the options for each type of monitor should enable you to monitor practically anything you could think of. Let’s look deeper at some of the monitors you can set up.

Websites A to Z

Website monitoring is probably what most folks want to monitor first when they look for external monitoring, and Site24x7 really excels at this. To start monitoring a website, just add a website monitor and fill in the steps. You can specify a URL, a polling frequency, and the location or locations you want to monitor from.


Site24x7 includes easy to access IP address lists so you can easily whitelist their monitors in case the website you want monitored is not open to the world. More on that idea in a moment!



If you leave the defaults alone, the monitor will simply request the header from the web server, which will save you bandwidth and server load, but you can also do GETs and POSTs, which is nice if you want to test a page or function of the site instead of just the HTTP service. Now, check out those other options.

You can provide credentials in case the site requires authenticated access, and specify a custom header or user agent to make trimming monitor activities out of your logs much easier to do.

The options for what should happen when a fault is detected are just as amazing. You can specify how many sites need to determine a problem before an alert is thrown, just to avoid Internet routing issues. You can set up repeated alerts (or not) depending on your preferences, and use custom templates for the email alerts.

You can also trigger custom actions. Consider the power of calling a script (with authenticated access of course) to recycle your app pool or restart your web service automatically!

There are also monitors for web applications, and certificates. I really love the certificate monitoring, because time and again it seems that no matter how hard you try, you don’t catch an expiring cert. until someone complains.

The SSL monitor can check your certificate, the issuing CA’s CRL, and notify you X days in advance of expiration so you’re sure to renew it before it becomes a problem. So in this package you can monitor all the key aspects of an open web application or a closed one, even if you have it firewalled to a limited set of networks! Authentication is not a problem, and you can even monitor your certificates. Soup to nuts, you have all the aspects of your critical website covered, including…


Poor DNS services can cause more website downtime than bad web servers can, and are much harder to quickly switch to an alternate if a problem does occur. Site24x7 has great monitoring for DNS, including response times and confirming responses are valid.

The monitors for the rest of the common web services mentioned above are just as feature rich and configurable, but what if you have a custom service running that is not listed above? Then you use:

Port Monitoring

You can create a monitor for any TCP port you have listening for connections. Give it a name, enter the FQDN or ip.addr to monitor, set the port, and configure your polling frequency and timeout. This will perform a SYN, and if it receives a SYN ACK, it will respond with a FIN ACK to ensure you don’t overstress your application. If it doesn’t get a response in the configured timeout (or it gets a RST) then it will generate an alert, which you can configure with the same options you saw above.


But wait, there’s more

Site24x7 is an Internet based service, and you will probably use it only to monitor externally accessible services, but it can monitor internal servers too. No, you don’t have to punch a hole through your firewall. They have an agent you can install that will then push information to the service, including load, available resources, etc.




Dashboard integration

Site24x7 also has a great feature for integration into dashboards, internal NOC sites, or other web pages. Site24x7 provides a simple “click the button and paste the code” way to embed your status dashboards from the service into any HTML page. I tried this with a simple HTML page, an internal SharePoint site, and our NOC monitoring page that’s up on the big screen, and it works great in all three.

Here’s an example of the Iframe HTML code that you get by clicking the button to copy code.



You can see status, uptime, and more for any or all of your monitored services.

More to alerts than just email

Sure, Site24x7 can send you an email when it detects a problem, but here   you can see that it can also use Twitter. You can follow @Site24x7Alerts, or have it send you Direct Messages.

You can also use SMS messages to send texts to practically any cellphone in the world. Since I use Twitter on my phone, and can integrate Twitter feeds into other things, I prefer that.

No unnecessary wake-up calls

You can set up scheduled maintenance so the service will not alert you during patching windows or other planned downtimes.


Scheduled reports

You can also set up scheduled reports so you can see your uptime and performance statistics for the day, week, month, quarter, etc. That make proving SLAs were met exceedingly easy!

More than just monitors

Site24x7 has a set of tools that complement its monitors, so you can run ping tests, check web site response time, validate your certificates, and more without setting up a monitor. This is great if you just want an “at the moment” verification without setting up a regular monitor.


Here’s what I particularly loved about my initial trial. Still without providing a credit card or opting in, I could take my 15 day trial, and instantly see how much it was going to cost me per month if I chose to stick with the service. That kind of straight up pricing is great. I hate it when you get into a trial service, only to then have to deal with a sales call just to get a number to see if you even want to afford the service or not.

As you can see, a basic website with DNS and SSL is less than the cost of one lunch per month.

What could be better

I’m a big fan of Twitter and enjoy using the service, but I am not a raving fan on how Site24x7 opted to use Twitter. The @site24x7alerts account can direct message you with updates, but if you are following that (necessary to get DMs) it is going to appear in your timeline. The number of users who are using Site24x7 but not the DM option means that my timeline is full of other people’s alerts. Today that is manageable. In a month, that might be just more noise than I want to deal with. I can of course turn off Twitter and turn on SMS, but that costs money after the first few alerts each month, while Twitter messages (which get to my phone as SMS) are free.

Final thoughts

Site24x7 is the best monitoring solution I have found. It meets or exceeds my expectations in basically every way that counts and even the downsides are tolerable. The website is extremely easy to use, setting up my monitors was quick and simple, with intuitive steps that I could follow without ever looking at a quick start or manual (both of which are there if you need them.) If you would like to start your own trial, here’s a referral link you can click.