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DevOps Monitoring Leads to Innovations

Amanda Boughey February 15, 2018

DevOps Monitoring & Alerting

The idea of monitoring your systems isn’t new. Since the introduction of software, teams have been concerned about monitoring performance. According to Nathan Harvey,

“Traditional monitoring includes monitoring low-level items like CPU, memory, and disk utilization. It is still important to understand and have data for these things as they will help with capacity planning and may be helpful data points when responding to incidents and outages.” - DevOps and Monitoring, Nov. 2017

And though traditional monitoring still has a place in the software development process, even “old school” monitoring tools are reconsidering how they fit in the monitoring landscape to avoid being left behind the competition.

Many organizations are leaning into Agile and DevOps for their software development. With this transition comes an increase in demand for faster releases. To take advantage of Agile and DevOps, organizations need to take stock of their monitoring practices—they need to evolve to keep up.

As Nathan Harvey acknowledged, traditional monitoring focuses on low-level items. With DevOps, continuous integration (CI), and continuous delivery (CD), monitoring needs to level up and include all aspects of a system. Being able to monitor software as it’s being created, implemented, and after it’s in production is essential. Focus your monitoring tools on tracking the infrastructure and code base.

Monitoring your Infrastructure

Monitoring your infrastructure means analyzing your servers, containers, and any other network devices for trends or problems.

Just as organizations are leaning into DevOps, they’re also leaning into data-driven decisions—making the trends you identify while monitoring your infrastructure important. Use this information to optimize your environment and make sure you’re systems are running as efficiently as possible.

By correctly monitoring your infrastructure, you’ll be able to make smart decisions around:

  • Scalability: See what workloads can scale
  • Stability: Test behaviors and loads to see what’s unstable
  • Data: Observe the data leveraging limitations

Monitoring your Code

Monitor your code to find errors as they’re happening and fix the code right away. Issues within code are often subtle—not directly in how the code runs, but in what calls the code makes. Monitoring these calls makes it easier for you to avoid repeated mistakes.

Monitoring your code down to a few lines—instead of looking at an application at a holistic level—can allow for faster remediation.

But just like monitoring your infrastructure, monitoring your code just for errors shouldn’t be all you’re doing. Finding trends in your code will simplify your overall development process. If code is making an incorrect call in one location, it’s very possible this call is being made in other locations. By focusing on trends, you’re able to amplify your development process and increase your release cycles.

Pulling it All Together

Evaluating trends—and implementing learnings from these trends—is a massive step in the right direction towards monitoring in a DevOps world. But with DevOps moving at such a fast pace, it can become challenging if you’re jumping from one monitoring tool to another—not to mention all the other tools you and your team use while developing software.

Having one timeline—one main source—where all this information is seen and acted upon is the only way to truly lean into a continuous cycle of finding, fixing, and improving issues and processes. With so many stakeholders involved in the success of your application, prioritize collaborating with the people monitoring your monitoring tools, and those simply monitoring the overall success of your application—like management.

ChatOps tools, like Slack, help with this communication. Consume information on collaboration efforts, outages, incidents, and more by integrating your ChatOps tool into your DevOps toolset. Finding a way to simplify the information gathered from all your DevOps tools will keep you in a continuous improvement state—making it possible to release quickly.

End-to-End Visibility is Key

A solid incident management tool can pull information from monitoring tools, alerts, and issues within your application, and information from over hundreds of other tools.

Incident management is no longer about just receiving and acknowledging alerts. Your DevOps incident management tool means a proactive, collaborative, and observable environment for you and your team to manage your full-stack applications.

DevOps monitoring has advanced beyond monitoring your systems with CI/CD tools. It’s time you push forward and insist on the information and alerts from all of your tools being visible on one platform. You need to visualize everything happening and learn from application trends.

To continue exploring how to use monitoring for innovation, read Jason Hand’s article in TechBeacon.

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