Monitoring Using Mobile Devices – Rants

Just enough monitoring to ensure the health of the product. It shouldn’t be a replacement for SNMP or WMI. Requirements of such a system are

  • Real time monitoring of critical subsystems.
  • Simple and few number of interfaces for effective monitoring. (not SNMP or native monitoring and management agent)
  • Notify the user using device notification, SMS or email.
  • Extensible API for plugging in future products.
  • Interfaces for registering other products.

Architecture considerations

Embeddable monitoring agents where each products ships with its own agent. One of the advantages with this approach is not having to maintain any sort of dependencies with the monitoring agent itself. Users can register their devices with the monitoring agents. There are a few disadvantages with this model.

  • Not all organisations allow personal devices to be connected to the office network
  • Monitoring will be limited to the time the device is connected to the network which will make it not very useful.

Ideally we should be able to deliver notifications to the device directly through cell network. Since Apple allows only their Apple Push Notifications Service to be delivered messages like this and they expect each applications to register with the APN, we may have to have a central notification server which can aggregate messages from our customer premises and then forward them to Apple Push notification service. An aggregation server will have to perform necessary authentication and authorisation to ensure that the users requesting for the notification are indeed allowed to receive messages. Organization Application monitoring app on the device can perform these operations before registering with APN.

Organizing a Hackathon

We are trying to organize a hackthon at office in this month. Thinking around this has been going on for a while and finally decided to pick a month where people will be available and release pressure will be moderate and then work backwards to arrive at a schedule.
As usual, we need to be clear about the following while organizing a hackathon.

Agree upon the goals
This is the first and foremost important step. You are asking employees to spend one or more days to work on something they are passionate about by leaving their regular work. You will also have to articulate the goals very well to get support from the management. Employees planning to participate in the hackathon should know what they should achieve in these days and what they can demonstrate. I called it as their acceptance criteria.

Pick a Date
Many teams will have releases scheduled continuously. Its important to choose a convenient date to ensure maximum participation. As always more the merrier. We looked at various release schedules, local and remote holiday schedules and other local events such as school holidays, community events etc. before choosing a date.
Once the date is chosen, work backwards that helps you organize logistics such as:

  • Organizing team needs time to review and finalize proposals, organize T-shirts and other goodies.
  • Pick a demo day. It could be on the last day of the hackathon or the next day depending on convenience and number of participants
  • Provide enough time to your admin and IT teams to organize logistics such as hacker’s dens, networking and power infrastructure and lots of food and caffeine.

Market the EventHackfest-Flayer1
Though this is an office event, it is important to market the event sufficiently to build the momentum. We have been sending frequent flyers, pasting posters and encouraging managers and other senior members of the teams to help their team members come up with good ideas. We are also planning short videos that can be streamed to various monitors in the common area. Authors will talk about their ideas and how it adds values to our customers.

Event Rule
Participants should be well aware of the selection criteria. Though the genenal practice is to encourage everyone to participate (its a community event), there has to be some rules laid down for judging to be effective. There will be people participating for the spirit of the event and others who are serious about what their contributions are. Most probably the juding criteria will include:

  • Imapct to our customers
  • Innovation
  • Achievements

Schedule

Next important step is the schedule. This includes detailed schedule for the hacking days and other milestones that help you to start with the hacking. This has to be clear to everyone to manage the logistics and also to maintain the sanctity of the event.

Our hackathon is planned for 20th and 21st of this month. Watch this space for more details of the event.