June 22, 2022 By IBM Instana Team 4 min read

Jenkins monitoring by the IBM Instana™ platform is an important part of the software delivery process. This article explores the native Jenkins monitoring options, strengths and weaknesses, and the benefits gained by using the IBM Instana platform to monitor Jenkins.

What is Jenkins?

From the Jenkins website: “Jenkins is a self-contained, open-source automation server which can be used to automate all sorts of tasks related to building, testing and delivering or deploying software.”

Jenkins is a popular automated continuous integration (CI) tool that helps facilitate continuous deployment (CD), although it doesn’t perform the deployment action natively. See Kubernetes. Jenkins automatically builds software when triggered to do so. There are multiple ways to trigger builds with the most common methods being post-commit or on a schedule.

Jenkins is written in Java—making it an ideal candidate to be monitored by the IBM Instana platform—and can be extended through plug-ins. There are thousands of plug-ins, created and maintained by the community, that provide a range of functionalities, from unit testing to security to compliance reporting.

How to monitor Jenkins

As you may have already guessed, there’s a monitoring plug-in for Jenkins that provides a lot of data about what’s going on within Jenkins and about the tasks being performed by it. The Jenkins monitoring plug-in relies on JavaMelody, which is a basic metric charting tool. There’s a demo of JavaMelody available for those who want to see what it’s like. While it does contain a lot of data, the understanding of what’s happening in the environment is left for the user to figure out. There’s also no data collected about the application services being built by Jenkins.

Monitor Jenkins using the IBM Instana platform

Using the IBM Instana platform, you can achieve a fully integrated view of Jenkins, the application services it builds, the underlying infrastructure and the state of the deployment tool, such as Kubernetes.

Figure 1. Comprehensive Jenkins monitoring summary of jobs and builds.

In the screenshot in Figure 1, you can see an overview of the jobs and builds executed by Jenkins over the selected time period, the last 12 hours. The “Last Build Duration” chart is used to see if there are any anomalies or spikes in the time it takes to complete a build. Any changes in build duration over time are easily visible here.

Figure 2. Expanded view of Jenkins monitoring summary showing job details.

When you expand the Jobs section, see Figure 2, you can see more detail about each job, such as the type of job; number of last build; status of the last build, failed or success; the health status of recent builds, the success percentage; the duration of the last build; the estimated duration for the last build; and the start time of the last build. Obviously, this section is where you can check to see if any build jobs are failing and investigate why it might be happening.

Figure 3. Thread, heap, memory and more details about the JVM that Jenkins is running in.

Notice the breadcrumb trail at the top of the screenshot in Figure 3. It shows the dependencies between the Jenkins service, the Java Virtual Machine (JVM) it runs in, the Java process and the running host. You can select any of the components in the breadcrumb trail to see more details about that component. In this case, you see details relevant to the JVM. If there were any thread, heap or memory pool issues, they would show up here. It’s important to monitor the stack that Jenkins runs on so that you’ll know if there are any resource contention issues slowing down Jenkins and delaying your builds and deployments.

Figure 4. Jenkins host metrics and metadata in one-second granularity.

The final screenshot shows host-level details for the Jenkins server. There is a wealth of metadata collected for every monitored component and every time series metric that the IBM Instana platform collects has a granularity of one second. This high-granularity data helps ensure that you’ll be able to identify any resource spike that causes problems in your build pipelines.

The IBM Instana platform is able to automatically detect issues and identify the root cause of problems in your Jenkins build pipeline because it understands the relationships between Jenkins and the full stack supporting the Jenkins service. You can start monitoring Jenkins and all your application services today.

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