Undergo a health check on microservices


Application monitoring in Microservice environments Undergo Microservices Health Check

Microservices have not only become a viable alternative to the traditional monolithic style of application outstaffing development – they are now preferred. This makes it all the more important to monitor the services themselves.

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Microservices Health Montoring provides the developer with important insights to improve the performance and user experience of an application.Microservices Health Montoring provides the developer with important insights to improve the performance and user experience of an application.

This is the German version of an English-language guest article. For the original please click here: Monitoring the Health of Microservices.

Instead of structuring an application as a massive, tightly interwoven entity, microservices break down the application to a series of small and loosely coupled services. Each service represents a core function of the app, so that they fit together into a whole – in a way that promises better scalability, greater flexibility, and faster release cycles.

What is Health Monitoring?

In the context of microservices, Health Monitoring provides insight into some key areas of the application and their performance. Any associated measure would be difficult – if at all – to determine on its own.

The Monitoring includes areas such as:

  • Application metrics: Measures that are specifically related to the application. Here, for example, one could examine exactly how many user registrations were successfully completed in the past hour or how many other specific (specifically defined) events were completed in a certain time frame.
  • Platform Metrics: These provide a deeper insight into the inner workings of the infrastructure itself. Here you get an insight into metrics such as the average execution time of frequently recurring database queries, average error rates for each microservice, and more.

Not only does it sound complicated in principle, in practice it is. Thankfully, there is a whole range of tools that provide such information via an easy-to-use dashboard. This level of visualization prepares critical data so vividly that literally everyone can understand it. This allows all project participants to make better and more informed decisions before, during and after development and deployment.

Why is monitoring the state of microservices important?

In the broadest sense, debugging microservices and monitoring the health status of individual services are important because they provide context; the context that is necessary to make the right decisions at exactly the right time in the face of an exact problem.

The sense opens up with a look at the monolithic development style of the past. If something “broke” in the software monolith, it usually took a lot of time and effort to identify the problem alone. If this was successful, everything was so closely intertwined that a single change to the affected function could create an unexpected wave effect across the entire infrastructure.

At this point, a small problem suddenly turned into five larger ones, all of which had to be dealt with before the finished product could be delivered back to the end users. In contrast, within a microservices architecture, each service is significantly smaller and is developed independently.

In case of a problem, you do not only know which microservice is affected. With the right monitoring tools on hand, you can also find out WHY a problem has occurred. This provides the developer with the right context to intervene and fix the causal error, instead of tackling the problem superficially and making everything work again in a rudimentary way.

Another advantage compared to the monolith: since the deployment is independent, changes to a microservice can be made without having to worry about the impact on the rest of the application. However, you will never get to this point as long as the monitoring of microservices is not a top priority.

How to monitor the state of microservices

One of the best ways to monitor the health of microservices is Application Performance Monitoring, or APM for short. Corresponding APM tools support development teams in maintaining a user experience that is expected to be error-free. This is ensured by responsive applications in dynamic application environments, which in turn support continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD).

APM creates an almost unprecedented level of transparency across the entire application – something that is becoming increasingly important for companies today. Application Performance Monitoring includes a number of important functions, including (but not limited to ):

  • Anomaly Detection: APM provides deeper insights into operations and helps detect anomalies early, allowing you to anticipate (and prevent) service interruptions.
  • Traffic Monitoring and optimization: With APM, real user traffic can be monitored to keep the user experience not only consistent, but also optimal in all areas.
  • Automation of Workflows and provisioning: APM provides intelligent triggers that are integrated with automatic remediation to automate as much as possible. DevOps Teams are relieved and can focus on the really important tasks.

Logging of health checks

APM tools also allow logging of condition monitoring. This is also important because it does not only reveal what is going on at the moment. It also provides a bird’s eye view of the performance of applications and services across their entire history.

This puts development and operations teams in an excellent position to uncover trends and patterns that would otherwise have gone undetected. If, for example, the same few problems occur again and again, meaningful measures can be taken in a timely manner to eliminate them – and thus improve the quality of the product for end users as well.

* Mia Liang is a freelance writer at Girls Write Tech.


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