Application Monitoring in a Modern Cloud World

Note: This post was originally written for the Cprime blog. You can check out the original here.

Applications are no longer simple two-tier architectures. Back then, application monitoring was easy compared with today. But as the shift to the cloud happened, applications became more efficient and effective. Application architectures now include many tiers across multiple locations and sometimes in multiple clouds.

Monitoring applications with this level of complexity is a challenge, to say the least. So, today’s application monitoring is completely different from just a few years ago. In this post, let’s get into some of the application monitoring changes and how it matters in the modern cloud world.

What Is Application Monitoring?

Application monitoring, also referred to as application performance monitoring (APM), is the process of collecting and analyzing data about an application. You do this to ensure expected application performance. Monitoring applications is a critical element in ensuring your users are happy. This need has existed since the early days of the internet. There’s always been a need to monitor your email applications, for example. The problem is that the capability wasn’t available because of technological limitations.

Tools and diagnostic protocols like the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP), and tcpdump were useful in those early days. Monitoring solutions from vendors like CompuwareNetscout, and Wily packaged these within their products. But over time, new monitoring methods were needed as more complex applications were written in languages like Java and .NET. Installable agents that could collect relevant application metrics made application monitoring a little easier.

But IT needed even more help to solve performance problems faster as applications started to break up into services.

The Needed Change

As applications became even more complex, virtualization, microservices, and containers became part of normal IT life. The introduction of cloud computing from Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the mid-2000s helped add flexibility to deploying applications. Now you have Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and many more as additional cloud options.

Monitoring applications in these cloud environments had to change. In the cloud, you lose the visibility you used to have with the application components in your private infrastructure. But cloud providers have outages, too, so you can’t rely on one cloud vendor. Because of this, monitoring tools had to collect data with installed agents and agentless scripts. In some cases, all this would mean different types of agents. One for application metrics, another for system metrics, and a third with some monitoring tools for event and log data.

This is not feasible with more hybrid cloud and multicloud environments, more security, and more data. You could not properly monitor your applications this way. Good luck keeping your mean time to repair (MTTR) low or staying within your service-level agreement (SLA) this way. So IT needed more change.

Application Monitoring Now

With all this data and infrastructure complexity in cloud environments, IT needed more than monitoring. When new instances are added, you need a tool that can be ready to collect data. You also now have more types of applications to monitor, like Node.js, Go, and others.

Monitoring tools also needed the ability to trace user transactions across the many components of your application in the cloud. Methods such as distributed tracing allow monitoring tools to follow user transactions and requests wherever they are within the cloud environment. This gives you visibility not just to where the user was when there was a problem but also to what the user was doing. This is helpful when trying to troubleshoot problems faster.

Add this capability to the metrics and logs being collected and you’re looking at doing observability. Monitoring tools such as AppDynamicsElasticDynatraceNew Relic, and Splunk have changed to observe applications in this way.

Go With the Change

As you’ve seen, IT is not without changes. Applications need technological advancements in order to meet increased user needs. And IT professionals need monitoring solutions to keep up. You’ve seen how application monitoring has changed to support the advancements in the modern cloud world.

For you to keep up, you need to stay up to date with all these changes. You need to train yourself to maximize your use of these advancements. If the monitoring tool you’re using hasn’t made any of the changes mentioned above, you should consider one that has.

What is Observability and Why You Need It

Note: This post was originally written for the Cprime blog. You can check out the original here.

As more organizations move from on-prem to cloud infrastructure, IT teams are finding that traditional monitoring solutions just aren’t getting the job done. Many monitoring vendors have moved beyond monitoring to observability. Sadly, some are doing nothing more than putting a good spin on the same old monitoring solution.

The bottom line is that traditional monitoring isn’t enough for today’s cloud applications and infrastructure. You need real observability, which can tell you not only when there’s a problem but also what its underlying cause is. In this post, let’s discuss what observability is and how it can help.

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Elasticsearch Alternatives for Event Data: 5 Options

Note: This post was originally written for the Scalyr blog. You can check out the original here.

The amount of event data to collect has seen a dramatic increase in the last few years. It continues to grow as more companies move to microservices, containers, and the modern infrastructure stack. For many, Elasticsearch has been the solution to help.

With more data comes some common scaling problems, so you may consider solutions that are Elasticsearch alternatives.

Choosing the wrong alternative can be risky. So in this post, you’re going to learn about five Elasticsearch alternatives you should consider. You’ll learn about some of their benefits and drawbacks, and also how they’re priced.

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How to Prevent Capturing Data for Security Reasons

Security should be top of mind these days. I wrote an article years ago about three lessons you can learn from doing a network security analysis. Taking the appropriate steps is even more crucial now than then.

But how do you protect your organization when you need to help troubleshoot an application problem and need to capture packets? In this post, let’s talk about how you can go about doing that.

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The Essential Guide to Scaling Elasticsearch

Note: This post was originally written for the Scalyr blog. You can check out the original here.

Some things aren’t always what they seem.

You’re tasked with engineering a solution that your organization needs. You implement it with a tool that seems relatively easy to set up. But over time, you realize that there’s no Easy button.

Elasticsearch is an example of one of those things. It’s a great product for collecting event data fairly quickly and easily. You start with one data node in one cluster and go from there. And because it’s free and open-source (for now), it’s even better. But as your Elasticsearch cluster grows and collects more data, you start to have some scaling issues. In this post, I’m going to provide some information on scaling an Elasticsearch implementation, as well as some general recommendations for proactive ways to scale Elasticsearch.

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Where is the Best Location for a Packet Capture?

You just got a call about an application slowness issue. You’ve been told that it’s not an application issue and that it must be somewhere on the network. 

When you need to capture some data, for whatever reason, one question that inevitably comes up is where you should capture. What’s the best location for a packet capture? That’s a good question to ask yourself.

If you don’t, you should be. So let’s talk about that now.

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How to Simplify SNMP Implementation

Editor’s note: This post was originally written for the Sensu blog. You can check out the original here.

You want implementations to be simple. Who doesn’t?

But often, that’s not the case.

SNMP is one of the oldest used protocols to manage a network. SNMP stands for simple network management protocol, but it might not have been all that simple for you.

Maybe it was simple back in the late 1980s, when SNMP became a standard protocol for network monitoring. But that was over 30 years ago, and while SNMP is ubiquitous, a lot has changed.

In this post, you’ll learn what SNMP is and some challenges you may have when using it to monitor your infrastructure. You’ll also learn some best practices you should consider when implementing SNMP monitoring.

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Performance Monitoring in the Cloud: Does it Still Matter?

Editor’s note: This post was originally written for the eG Innovations blog. You can check out the original here.

So your organization has decided that they’re moving to the cloud.

Smart move! Many companies today are either making the move to the cloud or have already made it.

According to RightScale’s 2019 State of the Cloud Survey, 94% of IT professionals say their companies use the cloud. Over 90% is public cloud.

Gartner predicts that public cloud revenue will increase by 17% in 2020. The biggest percentage increase is expected with IaaS.

So you’re clearly not alone.

But what’s the plan after the move for making sure your applications and infrastructure perform at expected levels in the cloud?

When you no longer have full control of your infrastructure, monitoring becomes even more important than it did on-premise. Unfortunately, it seems some companies get the impression that moving to the cloud will solve all their issues.

The cloud has many benefits, but not having to monitor your workloads isn’t one of them. I want to show you why, and provide some tips for cloud performance monitoring.

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Review: How New Relic APM Alerts Performs

New Relic APM, 3/2020

New Relic APM helps you to understand the performance of your applications. I wanted to run some performance tests with it for my review. In this video, I walk through the Alerts feature. Here it is….

How New Relic APM Monitors – The Alerts


Coming soon!

What Is Cloud Data Migration? A Detailed Guide

Editor’s note: This post was originally written for DataOpsZone You can check out the original here.

Do believe the hype!

Many companies are migrating their data to the cloud. Cisco forecasts that by 2021, 94% of all workloads and compute instances will be processed by cloud data centers.

But Gartner’s 2018 hype cycle did have cloud migration falling into the “trough of disillusionment.” This could be because migrating data to the cloud isn’t easy. Organizations encounter numerous issues when trying to take advantage of the cloud’s benefits.

Organizations need to plan properly before undertaking such an endeavor. Let’s look at what you can do to minimize the issues that can plague a cloud data migration project.

Continue reading “What Is Cloud Data Migration? A Detailed Guide”