Gain flexibility with microservices applications

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Microservice development techniques have ushered in an unprecedented era of continuous delivery and deployment. It’s important that organizations investing in IT evaluate its application modernization journey. As part of that journey, businesses can gain efficiencies and cost savings by unlocking the potential of microclimate architectures. Yet, careful consideration must be given to how to best deploy microservices in an environment where more demands are being put on developers and site reliability engineers (SREs) every day.

The complexity of microclimate architectures requires developers and SREs to monitor and ensure application reliability and performance even after they go into production. While monitoring the resource consumption of an application during development mitigates any cost or sizing surprises before production, microservice architectures, and the opportunity they offer to rapidly enhance application capabilities while in production, require the SRE to continue monitoring resource consumption during an application’s life cycle of changes. Thus, using a resource monitoring solution that can be used throughout the development and production life cycle is ideal. Lightweight data collectors embedded into a microclimate can offer incredible value.

What are lightweight data collectors?

But, what are lightweight data collectors and how do they help? Data collectors are simply application modules that collect performance metrics. Modern data collection agents are easy to install and have minimal footprints, making them “lightweight”. Most lightweight data collectors are open source, which not only allows the community to contribute improvements, but also enables customization specific to your applications. Supported in Node.JS, Swift, and Java runtime environments, modern data collectors can be embedded into the application container image just like any other application library. They can also be easily instrumented by adding a line of code to the runtime instead of installing a huge agent into each service. The ability to collect data at the service level can help developers work more efficiently.

Overcoming microservices development challenges with lightweight data collectors

During development in a microservices environment, tracking the compute resources, application response times, throughput, stack and method traces is very valuable. By measuring and monitoring these resources earlier in the development lifecycle, companies can prevent latency and other issues occurring in production that may affect the customer. But, even this due diligence isn’t enough in a microservices environment.

The versatility of microclimates allows for rapid innovation even after deployment. Developers are often faced with troubleshooting applications while in production. With user impact looming, it can be a scramble to get insight into container performance and measure the availability of compute resources.

As applications progress through the continuous delivery pipeline, developers need to collect metrics to ensure they understand resource consumption at each stage. Lightweight data collectors in a microclimate environment provide real-time intelligence at the service level to help developers find problems during development or in production, so that they feel confident in delivering code to the pipeline and maintaining availability during improvement cycles. As applications are changed in production, developers can easily compare resource metrics from one version to another.

Lightweight data collectors offer huge benefits to developers, but they also improve the IT environment.

Overcoming microservices operational challenges with lightweight data collectors

In most enterprises, SREs are faced with monitoring applications deployed in both private and public clouds, and often in hybrid cloud environments that include traditional on-premises resources. Ensuring applications are performing well while being continuously updated in hybrid production environments can be difficult if data is not processed quickly.

Luckily, lightweight data collectors offer a common approach to collecting resource metrics. In these situations, and also for deployments that are spread across multiple public clouds, microclimate topology and lightweight data collectors help gather performance metrics in a consistent manner. This is doubly important when migrating applications to microservice architectures. When a new service is introduced in the cluster, it’s a huge value add for operations teams to have performance metrics data at their fingertips comparing how service was performing before and after the transition.

And, when modernizing application architectures, teams will need tools that not only collect data, but also provide insights into how to fix issues when they arise.

The solution: A centralized view of microservices application metrics

Microclimate environments enable rapid continuous delivery processes and allow teams to communicate through common metrics, but that communication is only as valuable as the data being pushed out. Siloed data can create big problems. Redirecting lightweight data collectors for a centralized view of microservices applications metrics ensures your teams are all operating from the same view.

Using tools like the IBM Cloud App Management and data collectors, developers and site reliability engineers can share a centralized view of all of an application’s microservices resource metrics. IBM Cloud App Management monitors at the service level using SRE golden signals, latency, errors, traffic and saturation as indicators with lightweight data collectors to give deeper insight into service impacting issues.

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