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CF911: "Enable Monitoring Server" option (new in ColdFusion 9.01) DOES NOT monitor "out of process"

Note: This blog post is from 2012. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
Have you been led to believe that the "Enable Monitoring Server" option (new in the CF 9.0.1 Admin) somehow magically runs the CF Enterprise Server Monitor "out of process". Sadly, even some folks from Adobe have and still may assert that. It's just not true. So what is this option about, then? I'm not denying its value. I just want to clarify it.

BTW, today is "more about the CF Server Monitor" day today here at carehart.org. :-) In my last two entries today, I talked about related matters, regarding the impact of the 3 "start" buttons (monitoring, profiling, and memory tracking), as a followup to an older entry I did on them when the monitor came out with CF 8 in 2007. See the "related blog entries" below for more.

In the last entry, I mentioned that in 9.0.1, Adobe added a new "Monitoring Settings" page to the CF Admin, and one of the features is that ability I discussed to turn off the 3 start buttons from within the Admin.

Below that is this other feature, labeled "Enable Monitoring Server". Let me say first that has really have nothing to do with all the discussion of the "start" buttons in the previous entries.

So what does "Enabling Monitor Server" do?

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CF911: Disabling the ColdFusion Server Monitor "start" buttons, when you can't get into the Monitor

Note: This blog post is from 2012. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
Many know I'm a big fan of CF monitoring, whether with CF Server Monitor, FusionReactor, or SeeFusion. I've written plenty on each (see the categories to the right here).

But the CF Server Monitor does have an Achilles Heel: you may turn on one of its "start" buttons, especially "memory tracking", and find that it's crippling your server. You may not be able to then turn off the feature.

I talked about this potential issue in an entry when CF 8 was released back in 2007, CF Server Monitor: what's the impact on production? you may be surprised. I clarify there that the monitor will not, as some assert, "always kill your server". See that for more details.

And I discussed in an entry earlier today that you can't just "close the monitor" or even restart CF to make the problem go away, because that won't stop the functionality. See CF911: Using the #ColdFusion Server Monitor? Be aware that the "Start" buttons remain enabled.

So what if you are in a situation where using one of the features, especially typically "memory tracking", has in fact sent your server into a tizzy. If you can't even get into the monitor to turn it off, you're going to be in quite a pickle, and understandably panicked.

Easy solution if you're on CF 9.0.1

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CF911: Using the ColdFusion Server Monitor? Be aware that the "Start" buttons remain enabled

Note: This blog post is from 2012. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
If you use the CF Enterprise Server Monitor (in CF 8, 9, or 10), it's vital that you understand that if you turn on any of the Start buttons at the top ("Start Monitoring", "Start Profiling", or "Start Memory Tracking"), the settings they enable in CF STAY TURNED ON, even if you close the monitor, and EVEN IF YOU RESTART CF.

Why is this important? Well, I discussed the impact of these buttons (which can be severe or negligible, depending on certain factors) in a blog entry I wrote back in 2007 when CF8 was released.

And today someone was kind enough to point it out to someone on Twitter, so I took a look at it and tweaked it a bit to give some more context. While doing that, I realized I'd never mentioned this fact about the "start" buttons, and about an important related change in CF 9.01 (and 10), thus this entry.

The buttons remain enabled over CF restart or closing the monitor

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I'm speaking this evening on the Adobe CF Developer Week webinars: mine on CF Server Monitor

Note: This blog post is from 2011. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
Hey folks, just a heads up (for those who may not have seen all the tweets and list messages) that this week is the Adobe CF Developer Week series of free webinars.

Update, Recording: Note that this session was recorded. You can view it here, but note that you must login with an Adobe ID to see it.

And I'm presenting a session tonight, Tuesday September 13, at 7pm Eastern, on "Understanding and Using the ColdFusion Server Monitor".

As many of you know, I'm pretty much a fanatic about the monitor, especially about truly understanding elements of it that many miss. And so in my talk this will not be just a dog and pony show, but I will talk about practical experiences with it, though presented to either those new to it or experienced with it.

Note that the times for all these devweek sessions is shown (on the Adobe site) as being Pacific time, so again mine is at 7pm, not 4pm, Eastern.

And yes, the sessions are being recorded and seem to be made available the next day.

Finally, beware that there is no one URL you can use to join in on all the Connect sessions, nor can you get the Connect session URL by going to the event page (via the first link above). Instead, you must register for each event (free) from that first page, to get each session's Connect URL--and you'll want to do that at least several minutes in advance of any session to have time to register, get the email, login, etc.

See you then.

PS Hey, while we're talking monitoring, note as well that if you've not heard, FusionReactor has come out with its new release 4, which has lots of great additions, especially FREC (or the FR Extensions for CF) which cause FR to grab and log lots of great info that the CF Server Monitor only shows and never logs. I'll be blogging about FR 4 soon, but plenty to see on their site. and FusionAnalytics is also just about to release, really!

I won't be discussing these at this talk, focused solely on the server monitor, but as I always tell folks, each tool has its use and often a single shop can benefit from having both (like I do, as do many of the clients I help with troubleshooting). You can find more from me about FR here in my blog. And I'll have lots more to say about FA and FR4 more soon.

CF911: Lies, Damned Lies, and CF Request Timeouts...What You May Not Realize

Note: This blog post is from 2010. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
How often have you seen (or seen others complain of getting) a CF page running longer than it's "supposed to" by a timeout you have set. Maybe you've set the CF Admin "request timeout" (first setting on first page of the Admin), or used the cfsetting requesttimeout tag or the timeout attribute on some specific tag if it's available, trying to get the request to "end" in 60 seconds, and yet you see a request running for 3 minutes, 3 hours, or 3 days! How can that happen?

Or same with if you've set the request to timeout using an alerting feature in a CF monitor like CF Enterprise server monitor, FusionReactor, or SeeFusion.

And perhaps you've seen this error from ColdFusion, in your logs or on-screen:

The request has exceeded the allowable time limit Tag: cfoutput

Do you know what this means? It's usually not what you think, and it may appear as I said 3 hours after a request was "supposed to timeout" in 60 seconds. I've even seen experienced CF developers who get thrown by this challenge. It's not new (and for those reading this even in the CF2016 era, it still happens). And it's not so much a "bug" (in either CF or the monitor tools) but just a situation that you need to understand, and there can be some ways to resolve things.

In this entry I'll try to help explain this surprisingly common problem and I hope to correct some equally common misconceptions. I'll even contend that the info in this error message is often useless and indeed misleading (and therefore the feature producing it ought not be relied upon completely, and should perhaps even be turned off for many). More important, again, there may be a way to "really" kill such a long-running request. Along the way, I'll share some things that I've not seen documented elsewhere.

I also share a solution that may work for query processing but it's NOT about a tag attribute but rather a CF Admin setting in the datasource "advanced settings" to set a "query timeout". This was added in CF 9, but many never noticed. If that's your problem and you want to skip to more on that here, feel free. but you may want to come back and read the rest as it is STILL not a perfect solution.

Strap on your seatbelts. We're going for a bit of a ride (if this situation was easy to understood in the length of a tweet, then perhaps everyone would already understand it and not find it challenging!) As always, I welcome feedback.

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Some code to throttle rapid requests to your CF server from one IP address

Note: This blog post is from 2010. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
Some time ago I implemented some code on my own site to throttle when any single IP address (bot, spider, hacker, user) made too many requests at once. I've mentioned it occasionally and people have often asked me to share it, which I've happily done by email. Today with another request I decided to post it and of course seek any feedback.

It's a first cut. While there are couple of concerns that will come to mind for some readers, and I try to address those at the end, it does work for me and has helped improve my server's stability and reliability, and it's been used by many others.

Background: do you need to care? Perhaps more than you realize

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Free tools for SAN monitoring, VM Monitoring and more...and their educational site

Note: This blog post is from 2010. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
Folks know that I like to share news of tools (see my CF411 site), but I want to point out here a couple of free ones in particular that may address problems people are having in new/modern configurations: one is a tool for monitoring a SAN, and the other is for monitoring VMs.

It also gives me a chance to offer some props for the site of the company behind the tools, SolarWinds, which again many may find valuable in educating not only about the tools but the topics that the tools help with.

The free SAN and VM monitoring tools

The two tools (and one more for bonus) are:
  • SolarWinds Free SAN Monitor - keep a close eye on the performance & capacity of your storage arrays and become a storage superhero!
    Note also:
  • VM Monitor - continuously monitor a VMware® ESX Server and its virtual machines with at-a-glance virtualization health statistic
    Note also:
  • WMI Monitor - monitor your Windows® apps and servers in real time, using built-in, community-sourced, and customizable application templates!
    Note also:

I haven't yet used them myself, so this isn't so much a recommendation of the tools but rather a recommendation that you consider them if you are interested in what they have to offer.

The company offers still more free tools, as well commercial ones of course.

A company that gets how to educate you about their products

You may have noticed above that I offered as well links to videos about each product. SolarWinds has really done a great job offering educational resources, especially videos, and organizing them into categories such as tech talks, webcasts, and more.

Indeed, if you may be new to network management (which can be a broad and/or deep subject, appealing variously to generalist IT geeks and hard-core network admins), they offer lots of compelling introductory resources, including their geek guides and even certification training . Of course they also have a helpful blog and twitter feed.

Just as I previously praised the Mura folks as a "company who got it right" in terms of setting up a compelling, informative web site for IT folks, I really have to say the same for the SolarWinds folks. Congrats, and thanks.

I'll be speaking at cf.Objective() on "Stack Tracing CFML Requests to Solve Problems"

Note: This blog post is from 2010. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
Though I got the news a couple of weeks ago that my submission to cf.Objective() 2010 had been accepted, I only tweeted my delight about it and didn't blog it. Here's the description:

"CF911: Stack Tracing CFML Requests to Solve Problems"

Regardless of what CFML server monitoring tool(s) you have, or even if none, did you know that you can use a feature called "stack traces" to be able to pinpoint the exact line of code that a CFML request is running at any time? Did you know how to use that information to troubleshoot performance/stability problems? Do you know how to obtain that information either manually or automatically (such as during a crash while you're not watching)? Do you know how to obtain that information in any of the CFML Server Monitors (FusionReactor, SeeFusion, the CF8/9 Enterprise Server Monitor), or with free command line tools? And how to do this for any CFML engine (CF, Railo, BlueDragon, etc.)? Do you know how to interpret the information once you get it?

In this session, veteran CF troubleshooter Charlie Arehart will help remove the mystery from using stack traces. It really is amazingly simple with the right tools, and it can be incredibly useful to solve otherwise thorny problems, once you understand how to interpret the information.

Of course, I'm thrilled to be heading back to Minneapolis. I spoke there previously in 2008 and 2007 but couldn't attend in 2009. It'll be great to see all the fine folks who run and attend this unique conference.

BTW, I just saw also that CFUnited announced another round of topics accepted today and I see a topic whose title if very similar, "How to Read a Stack Trace", by the inimitable Daryl Banttari. It's hard to tell from his brief description how similar these will be, but Daryl is awesome so I'm sure I'll learn much from his. (I was literally just about to offer mine as another CFUnited submission but now won't of course. :-) Hopefully another of my submissions will be accepted, so I can keep my streak of having spoken at every CFUnited since they started.)

Anyway, the good news is that whichever conference you go to, this important (and often misunderstood) topic will be covered! :-)

Spying on ORM database interactions: Hibernate, Transfer, etc. on any CFML engine

Note: This blog post is from 2009. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
As people use CF9's ORM feature (or other ORMs like Transfer and Reactor, or indeed Hibernate, on any version of CF6+ or indeed any other CFML engine), they may be left wondering what sort of SQL interactions happen "under the covers" between the ORM framework and the database engine (whether in a given request, or perhaps at startup of CF).

Well, there are several ways you can watch them, as this entry will discuss, and some may be better suited to the job than others. It can be very interesting to discover what's going on, especially if you're having any suspected performance problems which you think may be related to ORM processing (or just if you wonder what all it does for you).

As for spying on the SQL, of course ORM support is just a different way that the CFML engine (through the ORM framework) sends SQL to a database via a regular DSN, just like any other request, so there's nothing really "tricky" about this. It's just about realizing that while you don't write the SQL yourself, it's still generated by the CFML engine/ORM framework, and you may not realize/consider the available tools which can spy on it, just like any other DB processing from within CF. Indeed, some people may not even realize how many options exist to spy on JDBC interactions from their CFML engine to the database engine.

The good news is that there are several approaches, some included in CF (some depending on the edition), and some available separately which would work in any edition of CF or the other CFML engines (Open BlueDragon, Railo, etc.), and with any of the ORM frameworks. And again, some may be better than others for certain challenges.

(FWIW, besides the aforementioned Transfer and Reactor, there are still other ORM solutions for CFML, which I mention in my CF411 list as CFML ORM Frameworks. Indeed, note that you can run Hibernate on CF prior to CF9, if you want to. This is a recovery of a blog entry that no longer exists, recovered via archive.org.)

Built-in ORM Logging Option

First, note that for those using CF9+ ORM, there is indeed a built-in option in the CF ORM setup where one can enable logging, settable in the application.cfc: see the this.ormsettings option and its available key/value pair, logSQL="true".

There are several resources where you can learn more on that (and a related log4j property file approach to logging this). Besides the CF9 docs page on the ORM settings, there is also a blog entry by Adobe engineer Rupesh Kumar.

The default is to log this information to the console, but you can manipulate those log4j settings to tell it to use a file (see the links above). Even so, this will result in quite a lot of data being logged, which you will then need to connect back to your specific requests. The following approaches may be preferable.

Using FusionReactor or SeeFusion

Users of any CF edition (6+) or any CFML engine (Railo, OpenBD, or BD 7+) can use tools like SeeFusion and FusionReactor, which have always had the ability to monitor database interactions by "wrapping" the datasource to be monitored. FusionReactor engineer John Hawksley has posted a recent article specifically on monitoring CF9's ORM interaction, in the FR Devnet site, Using FusionReactor's JDBC Driver Wrapper With ColdFusion 9 ORM. Its concepts would apply to any ORM, of course.

Similarly, I've written generically about FusionReactor's database monitoring feature in What is the FusionReactor datasource monitoring feature? Why would I use it? Powerful stuff. As I point out in that article, the concepts discussed apply as well to SeeFusion's ability to monitor queries by wrapping datasources.

That said, it's worth noting that FusionReactor does have a couple of advantages, in that it provides for the display of all queries for a given request (while viewing the details of that request), whereas SeeFusion only lets you see the slowest query in a given request. FusionReactor also provides a separately available display of all the slowest queries (across all requests). It also logs every query (connecting it to a given request as well), while SeeFusion (Enterprise, at least) can also log the slowest queries to a database.

And note that both of these track any requests coming out of CF, not just those associated with a given request. So if there is ORM SQL that is associated with the startup of CF, that's tracked too. (And for those aware of issues with CF's Client Variables, such DB activity is also tracked, even that done by the hourly purge, which takes place on a background, non-jrpp thread.)

CF Enterprise Server Monitor

Those running CF 8 or 9 (Enterprise only) will find that its available Server Monitor does offer built-in monitoring of the SQL executed against CF datasources, at least, as long as you enable "Start Profiling" (which also enables other features, and overhead, as well). In this way, the Enterprise Server Monitor can monitor database interactivity, including ORM interactions.

Unlike FusionReactor (and like SeeFusion), it focuses only on showing queries that exceed certain limits, and at that it shows them only in a "Slowest Queries" interface, tracking the slowest queries among all requests. The CF Enterprise Server Monitor also has no logging ability at all.

Being able to see every single DB interaction for a given request (or across all requests) may be all the more interesting for discovering/observing what's happening with ORM interactivity.

Another alternative CF feature

Still another little-known feature for spying on JDBC interactions in CF is by way of the JDBC "spy" feature, which does in fact allow logging of all JDBC interactions mde from within CF. This feature was first enabled by way of the DataDirect 3.5 driver update which was made available (as an optional upgrade for 6 and 7) in the CF 7.02 timeframe. I wrote about the Spy feature back back in Aug 2006.

Since then, CF 8 (and now 9) offer it instead as a new "log activity" option in the "advanced settings" for a datasource definition in the CF Admin (which is disabled by default). I pointed this out in another entry from 2007 as one of many easily missed changes for the CF 8 Admin.

This "log activity" output is not as easy to interpret as FusionReactor's logs, and can indeed be voluminous (moreso than FR's), so be careful. Anyway, it's one of the several ways you can monitor JDBC interactions between CFML and your DB engine. Again, any of these may be useful for monitoring any of your CFML/database interactions.

Generic DB Monitoring tools

Indeed, it's worth noting finally that while the focus here has been watching the DB interaction from CF (and the ORM framework) to the database (by watching the JDBC traffic going out of CF and returning), you could just as well watch the DB interactivity from the DB's perspective instead (watching it coming and and being returned).

There are many tools that can monitor database processing, available for each of the major databases (free and commercial). I list several such tools in one of my CF411 section, Database/SQL Monitoring Tools.

Hope all that's helpful, whether you use ORM or not.

CF911: Easier thread dumps and stack traces in CF: how and why

Note: This blog post is from 2009. Some content may be outdated--though not necessarily. Same with links and subsequent comments from myself or others. Corrections are welcome, in the comments. And I may revise the content as necessary.
You may have heard the value of taking thread dumps or stack traces when trying to understand and resolve problems with CF. They can be valuable to see what's really running on your server at the time it may seem hung or slow to respond. The problem is that they can be challenging to obtain, so here's how to get them even more easily.

(If you're not familiar with the value of thread dumps or stack traces, read on. The resources I point to get help you to appreciate their usefulness.)

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