June 30, 2022 By IBM Instana Team 4 min read

The IBM Instana platform provides a vast range of application and microservices metrics, events, traces, profiles and application log information with the context needed to manage cloud-native environments.

When you have that much information, it can be challenging to quickly discover the specific information you want to find. The more complex the application is, the harder it is for individuals or teams to find the data most relevant to their specific responsibilities.

That’s just one of the monitoring problems addressed by IBM Instana Application Perspectives. An Application Perspective is a filtered set of services and endpoints defined by a shared context. The following are some examples:

  • Services created by a specific developer
  • Components created or provided by a specific team
  • Components and services associated with a specific URL or application


Application Perspectives allows any user, from DevOps to developer, to organize information into the exact visualizations and context they need to monitor, examine and optimize the applications or services they’re responsible for. Active Application Perspectives are applied across every aspect of the IBM Instana platform, creating personalization. These perspectives can include service and infrastructure maps, dashboards, alerts, traces, profiles, incidents and even analytics.

Out-of-the-box Application Perspective templates provide quick and easy ways to create your personal view in one of the standard ways that make sense to your task load. The templates enable you to select the type of perspective you want to create along with the means to select the tags for the to-be-monitored application information.

Role-specific APM and observability dashboards

One interesting way to use Application Perspectives is to create role-specific perspectives, allowing different types of application stakeholders to focus on things most relevant to them. Each member gets their own view into the part of the application or service that is important to them or that they’re responsible for. This extremely effective information presentation means they won’t have to wade through a multitude of data, maps or dashboards that don’t concern them.

Built-in views of application perspectives

Two built-in views of Application Perspectives exist that can help individuals and teams better understand how the pieces they care about are operating:

  1. A monitoring view for a group of services or endpoints.
  2. Viewing the end-to-end call flows discovered at runtime.

These two views are controlled by the Downstream Services and Dashboard View options specified in the Application Perspectives setup. Downstream Services determine what additional data should be collected, and Dashboard View determines the default dashboard view. Users can easily transition from the monitoring view to the end-to-end view at any time from the menu.

Creating application perspectives, step by step

To create an application perspective, start at the sidebar menu and select Applications.

On the application screen, where previously defined Application Perspectives are displayed in a multipage table, navigate to the bottom right corner and select the Add button.

Then select the New Application Perspective button to open the Application Perspective creation page and select a template.

The Application Perspective menu presents a wide range of templates for rapidly creating perspectives for different use cases. These templates were created for common use cases that many of our clients implement and have been continuously improved by feedback from them. There’s also a selection for Custom Tags that lets you assign the information that the IBM Instana solution captures in any way that meets your requirements.

For this step-by-step explainer, we selected the Services or Endpoints template for our Application Perspective. Find an explanation of the typical uses for all the Application Perspective templates in the table below.

IBM Instana Application Perspectives

Template typeDescriptionTypical user
Services or endpoints    Services or endpoints are often an application that a specific team is responsible for or that provides a single function.DevOps, Operations, SRE, Developer, QA, Support, Business owner
A critical user journeyA user journey typically consists of a set of interactions a user has to complete to achieve an end result, such as for a business use case or business transaction.DevOps, Operations, SRE, Business owner
Environment or regionModel applications using environmental information, such as cloud information, zone region, host name or IDDevOps, Operations, SRE, QA, Business owner
An important customer or tenantImportant customers or tenants can have Application Perspective dashboards by using an HTTP parameter to identify a customer or tenant or with manual instrumentation using the tracing software development kit (SDK).DevOps, Operations, SRE, QA, Business owner
Kubernetes or containerGroup services based on a namespace, container or image name, platform service names, deployment information or labels.DevOps, Operations, SRE, Developer
Request attributesModel different environments using HTTP headers, HTTP return code status, portions of a URL, request parameters or a remote procedure call (RPC) method or object.DevOps, Operations, SRE, Developer, QA, Support
TechnologyModel a grouping by technology or application type such as database type or schema, Java application name or scripting application name.Operations, SRE, Developer, QA, Support, Business owner
Custom tagsModel your own data from the SDK, platform and so on using the HTTP protocol, IBM Instana agent, AWS, data attached to a call, and Kubernetes or container labels.DevOps, Developer, QA
Scroll to view full table

After we select the Services or Endpoints template, we’re guided to the screen where we can select the information and attributes that we want to monitor.

For our use case, we chose to monitor two Kubernetes Namespaces, a Zone and a Service name. We logically ORed them together to express how we want those measurements aggregated.

Aggregate measurements as necessary and give your Application Perspective a name. After we specify the measurements and services that we want to observe, we’re then asked to provide a name for our Application Perspective and declare the type of calls we want to monitor.

After a few moments and in order to aggregate enough information for an adequate visual display, we see the Application Perspective we built. That’s it—your Application Perspective is now active. If you’d like to see other indicators, you can select them from the menu directly above the summary displays. Or, if you want to change your query settings to something else, we can do so by selecting the Configuration menu selection.

When you’re done with your newly created Application Perspective and leave the display, you can return to it from the Applications main page.

Summary

Application Perspectives let you organize the vast amount of rich enterprise observability information generated by IBM Instana into display elements configured exactly as you want them. It also lets you configure Application Perspectives for additional stakeholders and views—all to rapidly get to the root cause of any issue and show the stakeholder how well the applications and services are performing.

Application Perspectives simplifies monitoring complex, highly distributed modern cloud-native applications. We’ve explained the key uses, structure and definition of an application perspective. You are now an application perspective ninja who can show your enterprise stakeholders—developers, SREs, DevOps, IT operations and line of business—that they can get a personalized view of your environment, allowing them to use observability to help them do their job.

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