Keeping Tabs with Plesk Obsidian’s Advanced Monitoring Extension [VIDEO]

Advanced Monitoring Extension by Plesk

Plesk is continually evolving. We released Plesk Obsidian just a few months ago, and it’s by far our most powerful management platform yet. Jam-packed with new features, Plesk Obsidian also introduces six new extensions that make the Plesk experience better than ever. Each extension offers users enhanced usability, tougher security, and maximum productivity. One of these new extensions is the Advanced Monitoring extension.

Advanced Monitoring replaces the Server Health Monitor component as the main feed for monitoring the health of your server. The Advanced Monitoring extension works in tandem with Grafana – an extension that displays server metrics as visuals, graphs and dashboards. The result is a powerful combination that optimizes both the flexibility and control of your Plesk account.

This article will fill you in on everything you need to know about the new Advanced Monitoring extension. We’ll first look at why the extension is so important and the problems it solves. Then, its main features, and finally how you can start using it.

What problems does Advanced Monitoring solve?

Keeping track of your servers can be a tricky and time-consuming task. But anyone who’s suffered an unexpected cut knows it can ultimately save you a whole lot of time and hassle. That’s why, a tool that can automate the monitoring of your servers is an invaluable asset. However, it’s important that it actually makes the process easier and upholds server monitoring best practices.

First on the best practice list is that the tool can watch various system metrics around the clock. Alerting you whenever there’s a problem. The Advanced Monitoring extension does this by tracking your server resources usage day and night.

It then notifies you when the usage of one or more resources reaches a pre-defined threshold. Because it’s essential to be instantly alerted of critical issues in order to handle them right away. Advanced Monitoring sends you emails according to your preferences and limits so you never have to worry about breaks again.

Another best practice is being able to monitor current and historical data of your server usage. This can help you get a feel for the overall state of your Plesk. Ensuring you don’t overload your server, and allowing you to plan accordingly for future needs.

Of course, all this data is useless unless it’s offered in a clear, easily-digestible manner. Grafana is the leading open source software for time series analytics. The extension displays data in Advanced Monitoring through graphs and dashboards that are highly customizable and visually appealing.

Main features of Advanced Monitoring

Let’s take an overview of Advanced Monitoring’s full feature list. With the Advanced Monitoring extension, you can:

  • See detailed reports on your server health
  • See how server health parameters change with time
  • Change the displayed time period
  • Keep track of the system resources’ usage on your server
  • Configure email notifications to inform when one or more resources’ usage reaches a pre-defined threshold (this feature is on its way).

One of the best things about the extension is that it’s ready to go out-of-the-box. Both the Advanced Monitoring and Grafana extensions are installed in Plesk Obsidian by default. You can find them located in the main left panel. The resources and services monitored by Advanced Monitoring are separated into five categories, with each one shown on its own tab.

If you upgrade to Plesk Obsidian from Plesk Onyx, Advanced Monitoring will automatically install and replace Server Health Monitor.

How to use the Advanced Monitoring extension

It’s incredibly easy to monitor your resources and server health using Advanced Monitoring. Most of its features are ready to go, but you can also customize it to suit your needs.

For example, you can select a time period for which Advanced Monitoring generates graphs. Or specify a custom period by selecting “Custom time range”. This can help you find out how your parameters change over time. As well as identify the periods when your resources usage is maximal or minimal.

You can also track your server health. Not only by looking at resources graphs, but by setting up and receiving Advanced Monitoring notifications. Advanced Monitoring can show notifications in Plesk’s interface when your resource usage exceeds its threshold and/or returns to normal value. The notifications only show for resources with notifications turned on and which have thresholds set in the Advanced Monitoring settings.

Certain resources already have their notifications turned on and their thresholds set by default. When a default threshold’s exceeded, it means a parameter is close to its critical value, which can be problematic. The automated-add on Grafana allows you to see detailed, visual reports on server health. And follow the real-time evolution for parameters that are of interest to you.

It offers numerous types of dashboards and can be used in two main ways:

  • With the data collected from default sources which were integrated for you by us.
  • (If you’re an experienced Grafana user) By harvesting data from any source you can integrate Grafana with.

We’re very excited about all Plesk Obsidian’s powerful new extensions. If you have any questions about Advanced Monitoring, be sure to leave us a comment below. Or get in touch with our friendly team of Pleskperts.

All the New Plesk Obsidian Features

Plesk’s evolution is an ongoing process since the dynamic hosting industry continues to change proactively. Cloud technologies keep revolutionizing the industry and IT professionals need help managing multiple environments and services more efficiently. Productivity, security and usability are key here and Plesk Obsidian is the timely solution. To help you better understand the level of improvements of the new Plesk version, here’s an overall view of new and updated Plesk Obsidian features. On Sep 25th 2019, Obsidian became RTM.

Advanced Monitoring & Grafana Extensions

Advanced Monitoring helps you stay in the loop regarding server and site availability. So you can get to the heart of any issues.

Since availability is key in the Obsidian release, usage is important because you want to react quick when resources become overstretched. Hence, you can now enable alerts to tell you if things like CPU, RAM, and Disk IO are becoming overburdened.

The new Grafana extension works hand in hand with Advanced Monitoring to chart info and stats in order to make them more understandable. The new Grafana charts supersede the old HealthMonitoring tool.

Moving Domains Between Subscriptions

For better security, it makes sense to separate your sites – but it’s also helpful to keep your staging and production sites apart. Now, Plesk Obsidian’s UI and CLI give anyone you choose the freedom to move domains between subscriptions. Just make sure that the target subscription has enough headroom to handle the added load, and you’re good to go.

Composer V2.0 – PHP Dependency Manager

Here are all the things you can do, or don’t need to do, with the new PHP dependency manager.

SSH access no longer needed for PHP composer

You can now run the full range of convenient PHP Composer actions, even without SSH access. It’s possible to set up environment variables, modify your composer.json and execute the Install and Update commands.

Dependencies – Just click to install and update

You can perform tests, run dependencies, or create a classmap. But what you won’t need to do is memorize all the commands and options to install them. Plesk Obsidian can handle this heavy load for you now.

Soon you won’t even need to stress about partially-updated dependencies taking down your production site. Test the latest updates until you’re sure dependencies are safe before pushing your site live.

Update dependencies when everything looks safe

Updating dependencies is a double-edged sword. It’s something you need to do to stay on top of security risks. But you also know it’s something that can break your website. Though minor updates pose less of a risk, major ones can bring the whole house of cards tumbling down.

So you’d be happy to know that you can now assess the potential risks right from the Obsidian interface. As they say – Forewarned is forearmed!

Get the correct PHP version automatically

Now your site will use the PHP version that composer.json specifies – automatically. Composer will run using the right PHP handler instead of the system default. Hence, the one the individual website uses. (There are plans to have Plesk be able to choose the appropriate PHP version and handler). Log in using SSH and type in the “php” command.

Improved File Manager UX

Now File Manager makes you even more productive thanks to mass upload and file search. You can upload and extract RAR, TAR, TAR.GZ, and TGZ archives.

Repair Kit: Self-repair Tool

Plesk Obsidian Repair Kit is a powerful self-repair tool, automatically detecting and resolving issues with Plesk or its related services. It lets you view a list of processes currently running on the server and filter them by domains and disable them. You can also see the total RAM, CPU, and Disk usage for all processes running on the server or for individual processes.

Soon it will be possible to use a list of MySQL queries and processes to discover why MySQL consumes excessive resources and which domain is to blame.

Server-side restrictions for Plesk Admins

Restricted Access mode lets you control which administrators get access to which server administration tools and settings. You’ll find it under the “Administration Tools” tab in both Power User and Service Provider views.

Control which tools, services, resources and settings your admins access while in Power User view, with Restricted Mode active. Just look under the “Hosting Tools” tab.

Essentially, you’re allowing your customers to have Plesk administrator access, without worrying about them wreaking havoc on critical and sensitive settings.

SSL It!

Make sure you keep your server protected around the clock via SSL/TLS certificates from leading, trusted certificate authorities, like Let’s Encrypt and DigiCert.

We’ll be adding support for more of these in future. In the meantime, here’s what you can use SSL It! for.

  • Buying, installing, and renewing certificates from a variety of CAs.
  • Securing your domain, webmail, the “www” subdomain, and as many aliases as you want. Get a clear view of what’s secured and what isn’t.
  • Automatically issuing, installing and renewing Let’s Encrypt certificates for domains secured with invalid certificates (self-signed, expired, or issued by a non-trusted CA.)
  • Managing HSTS, OCSP Stapling, and HTTP to HTTPS redirect.
  • Seeing the SSL/TLS status of the domain, subdomains, and domain aliases at a glance.
  • Getting an A+ rating from ssllabs.
  • Easily viewing SSL/TLS status via a small indicator on the Domain page.
  • Use the most up to date TLS versions and ciphers.

SNI for Mail Services

Keep your email conversations private, because you never know who may be spying in. You can simply secure SMTP, IMAP, and POP connections to your mail server with an SSL/TLS Certificate.

However, if you offer mail services for more than one domain, your users may have trouble with their mail clients. But you can fix this by using individual SSL/TLS certificates for each domain. Thanks to Plesk Obsidian and the SNI support provided by Postfix and MailEnable.

Personalized HTML Notifications

HTML-based email notifications help improve user experience. But they also keep you in control of your server and sites when you’re not logged into Plesk. You can read these HTML-formatted messages more easily than plain text.

Plus, the shared design makes messages more attractive and sets them apart visually from other correspondence. Use the Plesk default HTML templates or customize the look of your notifications with HTML formatting. There’s bold and italics, headers, numbered and bulleted lists, and more.

Backup Optimizations

We’ve reduced the free server disk space needed to back-up to Google, Amazon S3, FTP, and One Drive cloud storage. Now, restoring a subscription from a full server backup requires only additional free disk space equal to the subscription space. Instead of the full server backup.

Meanwhile, backing up the server to cloud storage only requires additional free disk space equal to that of two subscriptions. Rather than the entire server’s disk space. Hopefully, this has made operations faster on backups that are stored remotely. For example, you can now remove backups stored in the cloud four times quicker than before.

Revised Plesk UI and More Key Improvements

We’ve modernized the overall Plesk UI to address some of the UX shortfalls our users reported. Notice that the Plesk interface now looks more like plesk.com. There’s more to come – but for now we’ve improved the appearance and behavior of individual Plesk elements, colors and font sizes. Then, aligned all elements to a grid.

There have also been some key additions: 

  1. Precompiled PageSpeed:
    The PageSpeed module is now precompiled with NGINX.
  2. Automatic Restarts:
    Plesk services that crash on systemd-based Linux OSes (CentOS7, RHEL 7, Ubuntu 16.04/18.04, Debian 8/9) will now restart automatically. Apache graceful restart is now strong enough to be set as the default to reduce downtime for websites.
  3. Immediate Default Security:
    Secured by default: mod_security and fail2ban v0.10 are active straight away.
  4. Easier Plesk Access:
    Plesk entry point has been optimized for Clouds like Amazon and Digital Ocean. Access Plesk via https://<host-name-or-IP> without specifying the TCP port 8443.
  5. Default HTTP to HTTPS:
    Newly created websites have an SEO-friendly HTTP to HTTPS redirect enabled by default.
  6. PHP-FPM & Apache Tweaks:
    Services improvements will give you more reliability with restarts. PHP engines supplied with Plesk contain popular PHP extensions like sodium, exif, and fileinfo.

It is worth mentioning that, starting with Plesk Obsidian, Plesk is announcing a monthly release cycle in order to always deliver value through secure and stable software to our Partners and Customers. Once you upgraded to Plesk Obsidian and allowed automatic updates through Plesk Server settings, you will always and automatically be on the latest version of the software. See below a complete comparison between Onyx and Obsidian – the complete list of arguments about why to upgrade:

Plesk Onyx vs Plesk Obsidian

Plesk Onyx vs Plesk Obsidian INFOGRAPHIC

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