Application Performance Monitoring Monitoring the Health of Microservices

Von Mia Liang * |

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Microservices have become not just a viable alternative to the traditional monolithic style of application development – they've become a preferred one, too. The more important it is to monitor the services themselves.

Health monitoring of microservices provides DevOps teams with relevant context so they can ensure a better user experience.
Health monitoring of microservices provides DevOps teams with relevant context so they can ensure a better user experience.
(Bild: ar130405 / Pixabay)

This article is the original version contributed by Girls Write Tech. Please find the German translation here: Microservices einem Health Check unterziehen.

Rather than structuring an application as one massive, tightly connected entity, microservices break apps down into a series of smaller and more loosely coupled services. Each service ties into one of the core functions of the app, thus allowing them all to „add up“ to that same whole in a way that offers better scalability, higher flexibility and faster product releases, too.

What is Health Monitoring?

Within the context of microservices, health monitoring gives you insight into a number of key areas of your application and its performance, all of which would be difficult (if not impossible) to gather on your own.

These include areas like:

Application metrics, which are the ones that relate specifically to your application. Here you can take a closer look into things like how many user registrations were successfully completed in the last hour, or how many other specific events (that you define) were accomplished over a given time frame.

Platform metrics, which dive deep into the inner workings of the infrastructure itself. Here, you'd be looking at things like the average execution time of some of your most frequently tasked database queries, the average success to failure ratio for each of your services and more.

If all of this sounds inherently complicated, that's because it is. But thankfully, a variety of tools exist (more on those later) that provide this information by way of an easy-to-use dashboard. This level of visualization makes critical data so straightforward that literally anyone could understand it, thus allowing all key stakeholders to make better and more informed decisions before, during and after development and deployment.

Why is Monitoring the Health of Microservices Important?

In a broad sense, debugging microservices and monitoring the health of your individual services is important because it provides you with a context necessary to always make the right decision in the face of the right problem at exactly the right moment.

Think about it in contrast to the monolithic development style of yesteryear. In a monolith if something „broke,“ it typically required a tremendous amount of time and effort to even identify the problem. Once you did, because everything was so closely intertwined, you would usually make one change to the impacted feature that could create an unexpected ripple effect across the entire infrastructure.

At that point, one small problem suddenly becomes five larger ones, all of which you need to get under control before you can roll the finished product back out to your end users. With the microservices architecture, on the other hand, every service is much smaller and is developed independently.

So if you're experiencing some type of issue, you know more than just which one was impacted. With the right type of monitoring tool by your side, you know WHY this issue has occurred. This gives you the context needed to go in and fix the root cause of the issue, rather than just stopping the surface-level problem so you can get everything back up and running again.

Plus, because everything is independently deployable, you can go in and make whatever changes are necessary to the service in question WITHOUT worrying about it impacting the rest of the application as you would in a monolith. But you're not going to get to this point unless you make it a priority to monitor your microservices in the first place, which is why this will always be a good idea.

How to Monitor the Health of Microservices

One of the best ways to monitor the health of microservices takes the form of a tool like APM Monitoring, also commonly known as Application Performance Monitoring. APM is a tool that was built to help development teams maintain the flawless experience their users have come to expect and deserve, all thanks to responsive applications in dynamic application environments that themselves support continuous integration and delivery.

APM generates an almost unprecedented level of visibility into your entire application - something that itself is increasingly important for enterprises in the modern era. With APM Monitoring you can perform a number of important functions, including but not limited to ones like:

  • Getting deeper insights into your operations for the earliest detection possible. APM can help you detect anomalies early on, all so that you can anticipate (and prevent) service disruptions.
  • Monitor and optimize the experience of your end users. With APM you can monitor real user traffic to keep experiences not only consistent, but optimal across the board.
  • Automate workflows and provisioning. APM allows you to leverage intelligent triggers that are integrated with auto-remediation to automate as much as possible, freeing up the valuable time of DevOps teams everywhere so that they can focus on those tasks that truly need them.

Logging Health Checks

Logging health checks is also something that you can do within the Application Performance Monitoring tool of your choosing. This is also important because it doesn't just allow you to see what is going on right now - it allows you to go back and get a bird's eye view of the performance of your apps and its services across its entire history, too.

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This puts you and your teams in an excellent position to uncover trends and patterns that would have otherwise gone undiscovered. If you see the same few issues cropping up time and again, for example, you can take meaningful steps to eliminate them now – thus improving the quality of your product for your end users, too.

* Mia Liang works as a freelance writer for Girls Write Tech.