Outside-In

At IT From Blighty we’ve been monitoring IT for twenty years.
Around 5 years ago we turned things upside-down and inside-out.
Now our approach, first and foremost, is outside-in:

“Is your website up?” is a simple question – it’s either up, or it’s not.

But if it’s not (up), then that’s a problem (probably). It’s certainly a problem if visitors are trying to visit your site, and while it is a simple question, when your website’s not up, it’s not necessarily simple to fix.

It’s likely that your website has many moving parts. And when it’s up, you want to keep it that way, and you want to know as soon as it’s not –

There’s domain registration, which expires at some point. There’s the web server itself, which may become disconnected from the internet – a problem of availability. And if you’re serving secure pages (e.g. login, personal details, card payments), then your SSL certificate will expire at some point too – a problem of trust: the browser tells your visitor that your website can’t be trusted, and recommends they proceed no further.

In the absence of any these problems, nothing’s broken; everything’s going well (too well) but you’re getting too many visitors – a problem of popularity: your web server serves pages so slowly that your visitors give up waiting (or their browsers give up for them) – a problem of patience i.e. “time is precious” and “time is money”.

Monitor by Minotaur monitors your website and lets you know before things go wrong, as well as when things are going wrong. It monitors your website and detects that your domain is going to expire (or has expired), that your SSL certificate is going to expire (or has expired), and whether your web server is or isn’t serving content, or is serving content but too slowly – all these problems leave a poor impression


Most of this applies to e-mail services too, but in contrast to a website which is synchronous in behaviour (the website visitor expects a response pretty much right away), e-mail is queued in and out of the service and is inherently asynchronous (plus the e-mail sender may not expect to receive a reply for a while, or ever), and this behaviour builds more tolerance into expectations: e-mail servers can be disconnected from the internet (for a while) without sender or receiver ever knowing.

Nonetheless, domain registration still expires, and if you’re sending and receiving secure (encrypted) e-mail, then your SSL certificate expires too. Even when though there aren’t visible signs, if your e-mail server doesn’t spend more time online than offline (not being specific about proportions here), then e-mail begins being returned as undeliverable, and we know how annoying it is to get mail (or e-mail) returned when we know we got the address right!

Monitor by Minotaur monitors your e-mail service too, and warns you when things are about to go wrong, or that they’ve gone wrong, and you might not know about it. It detects when your domain is going to expire (or has expired), that your SSL certificate is going to expire (or has expired), and whether it is or isn’t possible to connect to your e-mail server, or it is possible but it takes much longer than usual – these problems all end up with e-mail being undeliverable


If you’re monitoring your web/e-mail server from the inside, why not monitor it from the perspective of your users starting today, from the outside-in? If you’re monitoring from the inside, checking things like: processes are running, memory or storage isn’t running out, and that your server hasn’t reached peak processing capacity (which are simple checks), you’re still missing the perspective of your users. If you’re not monitoring from the inside or the outside, then why not start today, with outside-in?

The way we see it, there’s no substitute for outside-in. If you’ve been looking at things from the inside, after reading about how we approach site availability monitoring, perhaps you’ll start looking at things the way we do: outside-in.

Disclaimer: innuendo is incidental. we like our copy: clean, concise, and conversational.