The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is changing the landscape of the U.S. manufacturing industry.  Companies that understand the patterns and trends and position themselves to prepare for the impending advances will most certainly gain a competitive edge in the global marketplace. 

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Companies no longer have the luxury of being anything but data-driven. Data used to be something to simply maintain and manage, but now it’s a valuable asset that companies use to gain a competitive edge. With change happening so rapidly, how are manufacturers preparing to take advantage of the massive amounts of data that is available and more importantly, how are they using that data to really take advantage of the power that IIoT delivers?

When posing the question of how manufacturing companies are preparing for IIoT, many manufacturing leaders think of IIoT as something far off in the distance, but they don’t really understand the full impact that is coming. Many see it as a fad or something that may only have some effect on the way they handle day-to-day operations in the long run.  As we begin to peel back the layers of IIoT, one sees that there is a strong potential for a shift to occur that will change the entire manner in which manufacturing companies operate similar to what the manufacturing industry saw when they were first implementing automation and began using IT and other electronics. As a result, manufacturing leaders are seeking to develop formal and informal IIoT strategies that will position their companies to take advantage of new opportunities to streamline efficiencies, reduce downtime and stimulate profitability sooner rather than later.


Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going

If one reviews the history of manufacturing, there are four distinct manufacturing industrial revolutions spanning from the initial mechanical production facilities to mass production to use of electronics and IT to IIoT and systems integration. The fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0, will allow manufacturers to leverage the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to collect vast amounts of sensor and network data, apply advanced analytics and further utilize new technology such as robots and 3-D printing to improve quality and output.

While some progressive manufacturers see where the industry is headed, many are only at the starting gate of the next wave of innovation fueled by IIoT applications and solutions. According to a recent study by Smart Industry, many manufacturers are focused on learning and benchmarking to formulate winning strategies. Many will be using the findings to reduce operational costs, optimize asset utilization, improve worker productivity, enhance workplace safety, enhance the customer experience and create new business models and revenue streams.


IIoT Will Produce More “A-Ha” Moments for Manufacturers

The best way for the manufacturing industry to capitalize on IIoT is by gathering more data from sensors and systems and utilizing it to make business-driven decisions. While that may seem as though it is not an easy task, by adding advanced analytics solutions now, manufacturers will most certainly have more “a-ha” moments as they produce insights previously clouded by uncertainty or unattainable due to limited resources and time.

The advanced platforms will enable manufacturers to gather the right data, at the right time which can be leveraged to make well-informed, and most importantly, proactive business decisions. These tools will provide more insight and will enable manufacturers to develop a major engine to identify and create new products, services and profit centers all while simultaneously improving production efficiency, reducing costs, preventing downtime, ensuring quality and enhancing their overall ability to strategically plan business operations.


Manufacturers Aren’t Really Sure Where to Begin

Data is being collected by sensors, PLCs and more to the point some manufacturers are overwhelmed with data and aren’t really sure where to start. With so much data readily available, many manufacturers are wondering how to start implementing IIoT technologies in a thoughtful manner. Many manufacturers are taking a very close look at the data they want to collect and how they will use the information to streamline efficiencies, realize opportunities and produce a sizeable return on investment (ROI).

Manufacturers are concerned by a host of obstacles for adopting IIoT in their companies, with the most notable being cybersecurity. Cybersecurity concerns, lack of overall IIoT knowledge internally, legacy products that do not have obvious IIoT connectivity and lack of senior management support and commitment, just to name a few, are among the most pressing issues that keep manufacturers up at night. In order to wrap their arms around these challenges, proactive manufacturers will need to gain a better understanding of how to leverage advanced analytics. The traditional manufacturing business model is quite reactive and relies on management to be the primary driver of change, production that is driven by a sales forecast, and system improvements if, and only if, it is perceived to be “broken.”  As the manufacturing landscape advances due to IIoT, manufacturers must begin to take a more holistic view of the entire company to better understand how one part of the operation affects other parts in order to take advantage of enormous opportunities for improvement and to proactively gain the competitive edge.

As manufacturers begin to take a more holistic approach, many are working with internal teams, suppliers and consultants to decide the most valuable data to collect, what systems require enhancement, how the data will help them realize opportunities as well as how to gauge the full impact of IIoT changes within and outside the company. The two most critical issues are data management and cybersecurity. These areas will be critical challenges for the company to address as it affects future competitiveness

IIoT is most definitely changing the landscape of the manufacturing industry as we know it. Manufacturers that read the trends, understand data patterns and begin to lay the foundation now to proactively take advantage of the technological advances will be poised to remain viable in the global marketplace throughout the decades to come.

As an IT professional, your job is to ensure continual systems availability and to mitigate risk. Monitoring your IT infrastructure is an essential part of your overall IT strategy, yet many companies either don’t have an effective system in place or are using outdated tools that only provide part of the picture.

The risks associated with not monitoring your system or using outdated tools definitely outweigh the time required to advance your systems measurement resources and their costs. Failure to monitor or using outdated systems can lead to unnecessary downtime, reduced security, lost profits and is a major blow to your company’s street cred.

Here are the Top Five Reasons Why IT Performance Monitoring is Critical:
Prevent Unnecessary Downtime

No one wants to experience downtime. Your network needs to do more than simply work as expected. It is imperative that it is working at all times. By integrating newer IT performance monitoring tools, you’ll ensure that every aspect of your IT infrastructure is stable and functioning as it should. Alerting functions provide up-to-the-minute information about performance issues that could cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars in unplanned downtime.

Security Breach Mitigation

Just turn on the evening news and you’ll hear about hackers, phishing schemes and other malicious attempts to extract customer and credit card data from companies. By incorporating an IT performance monitoring software, you’ll have the protection you need to mitigate the risk of experiencing a “Day at the Breach” by proactively identifying weak points in your security setup. IT performance monitoring tools will automatically alert you to atypical system activity which gives you the power to respond to potential threats and stop the bad guys in their tracks before it’s too late.

Manage Expectations

It’s is easier than ever to manage internal and external expectations with an IT performance monitoring system in place.  With just a few clicks of your mouse, you can provide your staff with the tools they need to report on what’s working, and what isn’t.  You’ll also be able to ensure that you’re providing a reliable customer experience.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Data visualization turns obscure data into easily understandable visuals and provides a quick way to convey your message. When the data is presented visually, the IT team can more effectively recognize patterns, identify data outliers and analyze data over time. Elements and patterns that were once too obscure to notice on a spreadsheet will pop off the page when delivered in a visual manner. Data visualization also allows members of the c-suite and other decision-makers to quickly identify trends and patterns to understand how one variable affects other areas of the company.

Strengthen Your Company’s Reputation

Your company’s brand is at stake.  Now we realize that many of you might be saying “branding…schmanding….what does our internal IT infrastructure have to do with my company’s brand anyway?” Well, take our word for it…it does.  As more and more customers interact with your brand online, ensuring that your systems are safe, secure and always working is imperative to repeat business and an IT performance monitoring solution is the key element to delivering an exceptional customer experience.

A Bonus 6th Reason IT Performance Monitoring is Essential…
Your Competition is Using IT Performance Monitoring Software to Deliver More Value Internally and Externally

More and more companies are realizing that they can gain a competitive edge by leveraging the data that results from IT performance monitoring. Your competition is implementing IT performance monitoring to easily capture, monitor and visualize data streams to improve quality and reduce the costs of operations to remain competitive.

Successful companies are leveraging the advanced data and analytics to ensure system-wide performance. Whether they seek to improve customer experiences, catch product flaws before repairs or replacements are needed, or increase safety, these systems also provide IT and OT professionals in many industries such as manufacturing, financial services, and telecommunications with previously untapped views into how their businesses operate.

 

Get More Information About How IT Performance Monitoring Helps Your Business Become Better, Faster and Stronger

Companies like Sightline Systems are helping customers achieve business transformation with IT performance monitoring. The newest release of Sightline’s award winning platform for managing the continuous streams of time series data has broken new barriers, collecting data in real time millisecond observations. This breakthrough technology is providing users with access to data which was previously unavailable.

Sightline EDM helps users easily capture, monitor and visualize data streams from their IT environments. Older, legacy systems have for many years provided visibility into operations but the data was frequently summarized due to the volume of data produced.  The state-of-the-art Sightline EDM software has removed these barriers and can store millisecond level data in real time and preserve the data for future analysis and planning tasks.

For more information about how IT performance can help your company reduce downtime, optimize performance and achieve real results, contact Sightline Systems at (703) 563-3000, info@sightline.com or complete the form below and someone will be in touch with you right away.

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1. Log into Sightline EDM
2. Add an Alert Group

  1. Navigate to the Alerts Tab
  2. Navigate to the Alert Groups Tab
  3. Click the “Add Alert Group” button OR edit an existing Alert Group.
  4. Fill in the fields and click save
3. Click the "Add Metric" button
4. Select a connection that will be used to create the expression
5. Click the "Create Expression" button

6. Find the desired metric and click the insert button

  1. Note: You can select a specific CPU, disk or storage or, you can select the metric name to monitor ALL of them.
  2. You can click the help icon in order to read the description of the metric, to make sure that is the one you want to monitor.
  3. Repeat for each item you want to monitor in this compound expression

7. Add in the necessary operators (see EDM Documentation for more detailed description of available operations)
8. Add an Expression Name
9. Click "Save Expression"

10. Find and click your newly created expression under the "---All Expressions ---" group
11. Click the "Select Metric" button

12. Set the Alert Value to .999
13. Fill in any information for alert emails, traps, sounds etc. See EDM documentation for more information about configuring alerts.
14. Click the Finish Button
15. Assign the newly created alert group to a connection.

Installing and Updating the Power Agent on Windows Systems

Sept30

Creating a Response File

We have had several inquiries about silent installs and updates for the Sightline Power Agents. Silent installs and updates for Windows Power Agents are accomplished by creating a response file, documented here.

The New Sightline Systems Site. Earlier this summer we launched our new website. It’s clearer, more responsive, works on mobile devices and offers a cleaner, more modern look. You’ll also notice that we’ve added a blog and an area for past editions of Sightline Highlights.
Visit the new Sightline Systems Site

EDM 4.2 Released. EDM 4.2 expands its list of purpose-built features with automated and dynamic threshold settings for any monitored device, unlimited coverage to capture data from SNMP and customer-requested chart feature that gives IT administrators a quick way to prioritize infrastructure concerns.
Read Sightline EDM 4.2 Delivers Dynamic Alerts, Rapid Visualization and Quick Chart Feature

We Made the Most Promising Red Hat Solution Providers 2015 List. CIO Review’s annual top Red Hat Solution Providers list selects Sightline Systems for its dedication to providing the right tools that help companies transform server and application performance data into actionable business goals.
Read More About the Award

We’re Hiring. Think that you or a friend has the right stuff to join our team of experts? We’re hiring for six new positions in our Fairfax, Virginia office: Chief Architect, Mid Level Java Software Engineer, Senior Sales Representative, Solution Architect and a UI/UX Developer.
Need a New Job?

Virtual Appliances Made Easy With Oracle Linux. John Park, our systems administrator extraordinaire, recently created a virtual appliance that will help future customers add EDM to their infrastructures more easily. We were so impressed that we asked him to blog about it… Oracle was too… the company added the blog to its latest Oracle Linux newsletter.
Read About Easy Virtual Appliance Creation

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Sightline in the vCenter Environment

Sightline in the vCenter Environment. The Sightline Performance Management Solution is a perfect complement to your organization’s vCenter implementation. When used together, Sightline can save you time and money, while providing the peace of mind that your systems are running smoothly.

Read about Sightline in the vCenter Environment

Monitoring VMware vCenter. Being able to correctly predict what your infrastructure is going to do in the future can be a truly monumental task. Using the capacity planning functionality within Sightline you can easily create supporting documentation to provide the necessary information to accurately determine what your infrastructure should look like in the weeks, months and years to come.

Read about Capacity Planning with EDM

Using the VM Count metric from vCenter. We’re often asked about the metrics we collect, whether we collect certain information, or how we would represent a specific situation. An interesting metric collected from vCenter is VM Count. Is there a metrics you’re interested in? Let us know, and we’ll investigate!

Read about VM Count

Your environment under a single umbrella — Sightline. As your organization evolves, so does the IT environment. It is critical that the IT team can intelligently monitor all physical, virtual and cloud components,with accurate information available to correct situations as they occur. Once collected, information can be used to assist with migrating business critical applications to different platforms and ensure that the environment is correctly sized to maximize efficiency and limit spending. Sightline provides this and more – all under the same umbrella.

Read about the Sightline Unified Monitoring Solution

Data visualization in Sightline EDM: who you are influences what you want to see. Visualization of data sounds like an easy proposition; collect data and display it. But there’s a lot more to it than that! What data should be displayed? How much data? And in what format? With the depth of data available from Sightline data collection agents, and the versatility of Sightline‘s display interface, we can show you whatever you need to see.

Read about Data Visualization in EDM

Maximize performance monitoring of your VMware environment using Sightline. Sightline offers in-depth monitoring of your entire VMware environment. We use two different strategies to provide you with the best overall view of your virtual environment. First, we look at the vCenter servers to provide basic monitoring of the virtual space; then, we utilize Power Agents and Interface Agents to provide in-depth data collection for your mission-critical systems and applications. You decide just how deep you want to go into each instance in the environment.

Read more about Sightline in your VMware environment

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Doubling the Charting Speed of Sightline EDM

Sightline can collect data from over 7,500 different metrics across multiple OS platforms.  One of the important features of Sightline Enterprise Data Manager (EDM) is to visualize the data. Once the data is collected we use a charting tool inside EDM  to display the data in a web browser interface. It helps give IT teams a fast way to look at their server performance, spot trends or clearly see when problematic events began.

Yet, we were increasingly unhappy with the performance of our current charting tool because it would often take several minutes for our customers to view a report containing their performance data.

Recently we came across CanvasJS. It claimed to render 100,000 data points in 100 milliseconds -- just the type of performance we were seeking. After evaluating CanvaJS, we decided to include it in the next release of EDM.

Below are a few before and after comparisons to illustrate why we’re excited by EDM's upcoming new performance charting features.

Before

After

blog-chart3Only 1 chart type (zoomline) supports zoom capability.
blog-chart2EDM can now display more data without affecting performance. This increases the granularity at which we can plot the data.
blog-chart1We were forced to summarize data in order to limit the number of data points rendered in the chart. As a result the data was less granular and data spikes were not shown.
blog-chart4The majority of charts have zooming capability.
blog-chart5
To find the value for a particular point the user has to hover over the exact data point in the chart. Depending on the number of data points in the chart this was hard to do and often frustrating.
blog-chart6Charts are now more interactive. The user does not need to hover over an exact data point to view the data information.
Customers complain about charts taking too long to load.
Charts render in the UI at least twice as fast.

Sightline Power Agents for Linux and Windows Systems

Software Releases

Sightline is pleased to announce the release of the Sightline Power Agent for Linux Systems, version 6.5.6. This is the initial release of the Sightline Power Agent for SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 11, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 running on Power PC systems.

This release of the Sightline software expands the enterprise-wide system coverage available from the Sightline Software Suite.
Review the Release Notes

Sightline is also pleased to announce the release of version 6.5.32.11 of the Sightline Power Agents for Windows 2008 and 2012 Systems. This release of the Windows Power Agent fixes a validation error with the Log File Interface Agent.
Review the Release Notes

To download Sightline software updates, visit the Sightline download page at supportweb.sightline.com.

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Torch 4R7G Software Release

Sightline is pleased to announce the release of version 4R7G of the Sightline Torch Capacity Manager software for Unisys® ClearPath OS 2200 Systems. Torch enables you to measure, analyze and control the capacity and performance of your OS 2200 system.

This release of Torch includes additional seasonal shift handling updates. When the time setting is changed in the middle of a log cycle, it is not immediately recognized by Torch, which can cause either negative elapsed time or an incorrect duration to be reported. This has been corrected.

This release also includes internal code updates to standardize code and improve mathematical precision.

To read the release notes and download the software update, visit the Sightline download page at supportweb.sightline.com.

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New Sightline Power Agent for Windows Systems

Sightline Systems is pleased to announce the release of the Sightline Power Agent for Microsoft® Windows 2008 and Windows 2012 Systems. This release, version 6.5.32.10, includes exciting new features as well as stability updates.

New Features

New Network Traffic Metric Group

The Network Traffic group is included in the standard metric package, and contains three event classes. A new COMPUTE section has also been added to the agent.xml configuration file to remove entries from the Event list when the values are less than 1 Kbyte/sec.

xInclude Functionality

The XML support library has been updated to support ‘xInclude’ functions.

Updates and Changes

Updates to the new Power Agent for Windows Systems include the following:

  • The IISLog-Transaction Time units has been changed from milliseconds to seconds to prevent overflowing the counter.
  • Hyper-V metric names have been modified to allow greater room for subscripts, which represent the name of the guests.
  • The SNMP API GetBulk() call has been made optional, because it can break when used against some devices.
  • The “Target” column in the IIS Logfile event data has been moved to the far right, allowing it to expand to display the full value of the data.
  • The IIS Interface Agent has been modified to force IIS to flush HTTP log files every collection interval, to prevent collection inconsistencies.

Review the release notes here

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Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Ask John! If we use your input in a future newsletter, we’ll send you a $10 Amazon gift card.