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The Challenge of Monitoring Microservices

February 20, 2017 | Dave Poulton
Dave Poulton

Dave is the CTO of Intergence and has over 30 years of experience in telecoms and IT network services. Dave has held senior level positions for a number of leading companies such as Cable & Wireless, Vodafone, Credit Suisse and Barclays. He has extensive experience in network design, IT service solution design, OSS management systems, analytics, managed services and large global transformation projects.

Microservices are discretely purposed applications that together, work collaboratively to form a service. Monitoring them saves you a lot of guesswork.

Microservices is the term for a relatively new application architecture that in many ways is an improvement on SOA-Services-Oriented-Architecture. Microservices are a collection of purpose developed applications that form a set, or suite of small discrete processes that scale out to form each individual independent function within an overall business service.

Microservice Monitoring

Part of my role within Intergence is to not just set the technology strategy of our business but to also meet customers and to find out what their latest issues and challenges are. Over the last few months one of the emerging trends within the whole digital transformation arena is to embrace microservices. In some cases this seems to have sown the seeds of confusion and doubt. Whilst some CIO’s have embraced digital transformation, others have remained sceptical or may have decided to “wait and see”. What became clear to me was that there were few “guiding principles” or clarity on these new services or what they can achieve, which is why I decided to impart some of my knowledge and produce this e-book. Following on from this will be others in the series and of course I will welcome feedback on all the points which I make in this e-book, which we also intend to make available as a podcast over the coming weeks.

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Without a doubt, containerisation and Microservices architectures will completely disrupt traditional infrastructures and the way IT departments deliver services. One of the most fundamental changes is that they automate orchestrate and operate in a way which has not been possible before. This allows even smaller IT operations to become more agile and work so that they are “punching well above their weight”. Using elastic cloud based services enables them to deliver services much more quickly and in a very cost efficient manner. This new IT revolution though is not just about technology, it is also about changing fundamental work practices and becoming comfortable with the concept that failing in an operational environment is acceptable as long as you learn from the mistakes. A truly agile environment means releasing new code on a daily basis rather than two or three times a year and this is where microservices and containerisation really makes a fundamental difference to the delivery of services.

With any new technology whether it is a new F1 car, Blockchain or Graphene a process is still needed to measure and manage progress and failures. In exactly the same way, containerisation and microservices needs a new way to see and act when things start to go wrong as well as being able to judge success and gain end-to-end visibility. As IT professionals one of the fundamental changes which this technology brings is gaining closer access to the “end customer", so it becomes even more imperative that IT leaders cannot just see the end-to-end service but the whole digital supply chain and how it affects the user experience. In an increasingly competitive world gaining valuable insights into the way customers are interacting with the delivered IT service is probably the most important part of any digital transformation programme. My e-book sets out some basic principles of what microservices consist of from a technical perspective together with an overview on what potential benefits they bring. What has become clear is that as these services are ”spun up” and disappear again in a similar way that solar flares appear and disappear, monitoring and managing IT infrastructure and applications becomes much more challenging. Traditional tools which are silo-based and cannot see all of the application activity will quickly become obsolete and I explore some of the new ways which microservices management can be achieved to deliver the best outcomes for customers and users. Being able to overcome the old adage “what you can’t measure you can’t manage” is key to last the pace during the digital transformation journey and I hope that this e-book provides some insight into how to understand and manage microservices effectively.   

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monitoring microservices