|By Stackify Blog||
|November 23, 2014 11:45 PM EST||
Four Ways Cloud Has Influenced Application Troubleshooting
The rise of cloud computing has ushered in an era of unprecedented productivity for developers over the past several years. For those who have embraced this new world order, gone are the days of long lead times for hardware procurement and installation, architecture defined by slow-moving hardware upgrades, hardware-constrained scalability and flexibility, and a world where only sys admins have access to the infrastructure. But, as the barriers between development and delivery disappear, new challenges have emerged that can disrupt the lives of developers and slow down delivery of new products and features, giving back some of the efficiency gains that the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) created.
Whether you're new to the cloud or you've been around since before cloud was cool, you are likely to see four common challenges emerge that can make troubleshooting your applications in the cloud more difficult. Let's take a closer look at these common pain points first to help build awareness around the challenges, and then I'll offer some suggestions for how to prevent these hurdles from tripping you and your team up when it comes time to unravel an application troubleshooting mystery.
If you're adopting the cloud with limited support from an operations team, or perhaps you're one of the growing numbers of DevOps or even no-ops teams who find themselves bridging both the operations and development worlds, you will find that the responsibility of operating and supporting both your app and your infrastructure, at some level at least, will introduce a new dynamic that you may not have contemplated.
True, the ability to roll your own architecture without the burden of dealing with physical devices is liberating and far more efficient. But, as developer tools, deployment tools, and cloud operations tools become inextricably linked to one another, the old boundaries between who is dev and who is ops become blurred or even get removed altogether. This means the dev team is suddenly an integral part of operations, whether by design or by default, adding yet another responsibility for developers whose chief mandate is often to go faster. The more time you spend in the operations realm, especially in troubleshooting your app or the cloud resources it depends on, the less time you are able to devote to adding new value through code.
Lack of Transparency and Burden of Proof
While it's true that having the full benefits of the cloud available at the press of a button is awesome, you wouldn't be faulted for having a bit of nostalgia about the "good old days" of being able to have a conversation with a real live person down the hall about real physical hardware that's either healthy or isn't (along with the ability to actually lay hands on it). An old familiar refrain when something went wrong with an app in production was for the burden of proof to rest initially with the ops team - prove the hardware is working, the network is healthy, and the SAN hasn't lost disks before making the dev team dig in. Honestly, everyone was just hoping against hope that it was something "easy" in the infrastructure, because when it was the app, that's when things got hard. Well, that script has been reversed with the cloud: now the burden of proof is on the dev team, because what's really hard is finding a problem that originates with someone else's complex, abstracted, virtualized data center.
App returning a 500 error or performing poorly? If you're using something delivered as-a-Service, such as database, queues, cache and the like, you won't really have any visibility into health other than the cloud provider's status page and whatever you can directly observe. It's either working correctly and is speedy, or it isn't; if it isn't, life gets a lot murkier. Likewise, servers can be monitored, but you can't really tell why your virtual resource's performance has trailed off if you are the victim of something environmental that's out of your control.
No matter how good the support team is at your favorite cloud provider, it's rare that they will be as responsive to your requests for more information on an issue as your own in-house ops team could be, and they won't be as well versed on your architecture. To varying degrees, you're at the mercy of the cloud provider for consistent, reliable services, and it's also up to them to offer timely insight when issues arise with the services you depend on. Your mileage may vary, of course, as to whether your cloud provider offers this level of communication and transparency. But, if they don't, then the burden of proof rests squarely with you to show that the issue isn't in your app. Quite a reversal of fortunes, isn't it?
Compounding the challenge of sorting through infrastructure issues vs. code issues is the simple fact that applications are becoming far more complex and, in many cases, portions of the overall architecture may be transient in nature. Combine complexity with impermanence and you have a recipe for some real Sherlock Holmes-caliber mysteries at times.
The incredible thing about an SDDC is that you can create nearly any kind of architecture required to support your application stack's needs, all relatively easily - if you can dream it, you can build it. Want to cobble together .NET, Java, PHP, Node.js, Ruby, Database-as-a-Service for SQL and NoSQL, Message-Queues-as-a-Service, and Search-as-a-Service? From a cloud deployment perspective, it's been made devilishly easy to deploy and get started. But with that ultra-polyglot approach and a heavy reliance on software-defined services comes a new set of challenges:
- First, you have a variety of services that are black boxes to you. Each of these services comes with its own set of tricks for gaining insight into performance and availability, but each one may be different in how you monitor and troubleshoot.
- Learning how to support a variety of different technologies creates drag on your delivery velocity. It's hard enough learning the performance and reliability tricks for a few technologies; trying it for a wide variety can draw focus from the real goals of building new value through software and making the business more successful.
- Not every monitoring tool can support every technology stack, and the wider you cast the technology net, the harder it can become to support your full stack from a single monitoring tool.
- If you're using dynamic (transient) resources, such as scale-on-demand servers, you are quite likely to lose critical data that you need when troubleshooting a problem if you haven't given thought to how you preserve critical insights that disappear with the server when it's de-provisioned.
More Frequent Change
Finally, we come to the double-edged sword that brought this all about in the first place: going faster! The increased agility that the cloud brings, especially when coupled with dev tools that are integrated into the delivery cycle (think PaaS environments), has a way of shortening delivery cycle times and increasing the number of releases crammed into a given week, month, and year. This is especially true in organizations that have also adopted agile development practices. Code can flow to production smoothly with greater frequency, and architecture changes can be made far more swiftly and easily. Unfortunately, with more frequent code releases and architecture changes comes more frequent opportunities to break something.
A big part of the movement toward Agile and Lean is also the notion of always moving forward - rather than rolling back a release in the event of an issue, detect problems early and patch them quickly. To enable this mandate, however, requires two things that are often missing if you are coming from a slower moving environment or from a more traditional hosting model:
- Developer visibility into a baseline of behavior telemetry to know what "good" looks like historically
- Instant feedback on the health of the application post-release relative to that healthy baseline
Without this, it's hard to know if you've made gains or losses with your release - your users are often your only real barometer.
So... How Do I Code More and Support Less?
There's no denying that the cloud has impacted the life of many developers, mostly in a very positive way. Of course, with new technologies and capabilities always comes a new set of challenges to overcome. In the case of cloud-hosted applications, this includes challenges to effectively and efficiently support those applications in their new environments so that the gains in productivity aren't given back in support of the application.
What can development teams to do adapt to and overcome these challenges?
There are three basic steps that every development team should take to make supporting cloud-based applications easier.
1. Establish Access, Process, and Protocol: The first order of business for helping developers support their cloud-based apps more effectively is giving them safe access to the information and resources they need. Unfortunately, all too often in cloud environments this is an all-or-nothing proposition - full login rights to servers and even potentially full rights to the management portal, or no access at all. Make sure to establish the correct access methods to your developers so that they have the visibility and access they need, without handing over so much control that it increases the likelihood of accidents.
2. Design Supportability Into the Application: Once your application is in production, there are several common questions that you will need to be able to answer at a moment's notice about your application: Is it (and everything it depends on) running? Are users satisfied with the performance? Is anything silently failing and frustrating users without setting off alarms? If something failed, who was impacted, and what caused the issue?
There are also some things that simply cannot be measured and monitored from outside the application, but which speak directly to the health and well being of your application. To enable you to quickly answer the inevitable questions, consider incorporating the following:
- If it moves, measure it. Report application metrics and KPIs from within your code in order to see events and data that would otherwise be locked away from you. Some events and metrics only you, the developer, have the power to expose. Knowing how your app behaves at a core level can provide levels of insight that prove invaluable when searching for troubleshooting clues. If you can configure monitoring and alerts for those metrics, even better. We've elaborate on this subject in this article Errors & Logs: putting the data to work
- Log often, and log meaningfully. If you only report errors, you will lack the critical insights necessary to help point to the root cause of the error. By logging at, say, info or debug instead of just warn or error, you will have the breadcrumb trail you need to find it. It's impossible to get the state of the system after the fact - you need to have logged it at the time of the event.
- Centralize your insights. Remembering that life in the cloud can be both quite distributed, and quite transient, it's always good to bring everything - logs, errors, custom metrics, and other telemetry - into a central location for normalization, correlation, and continuity. You may need the data, and what it tells you, well beyond the ephemeral life span of your cloud resource.
3. Identify Health Baselines Early: Key information like message queue length, average request time, app pool resource utilization, custom metrics values, log and error rates, and more can all be charted for your application these days - monitoring and charting isn't just the domain of ops tools any longer. Understand what your app looks like both when healthy and unhealthy, preferably starting with pre-production environments even, so that you can see how your application morphs from release to release as well as with different loads and as your architecture evolves. By baselining as far back as dev and QA, you can often catch problems well before they impact customers and send you and your team scrambling.
There's no denying the cloud brings incredible capabilities to the lives of developers: speed, agility, flexibility, scalability, and more. As with any new, disruptive technology, new challenges are also par for the course. By applying some basic strategies for application management, monitoring and troubleshooting, you can have all of the advantages of the cloud without giving back the gains during those critical support engagements, and have happier team members and end users as well.
At Stackify we believe we offer a solution to the issues presented in this article learn more at www.stackify.com
Five years ago development was seen as a dead-end career, now it’s anything but – with an explosion in mobile and IoT initiatives increasing the demand for skilled engineers. But apart from having a ready supply of great coders, what constitutes true ‘DevOps Royalty’? It’ll be the ability to craft resilient architectures, supportability, security everywhere across the software lifecycle. In his keynote at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Jeffrey Scheaffer, GM and SVP, Continuous Delivery Busin...
Apr. 24, 2017 08:15 PM EDT Reads: 332
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Apr. 24, 2017 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 625
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
Apr. 24, 2017 07:45 PM EDT Reads: 2,114
In recent years, containers have taken the world by storm. Companies of all sizes and industries have realized the massive benefits of containers, such as unprecedented mobility, higher hardware utilization, and increased flexibility and agility; however, many containers today are non-persistent. Containers without persistence miss out on many benefits, and in many cases simply pass the responsibility of persistence onto other infrastructure, adding additional complexity.
Apr. 24, 2017 07:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,101
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Aruna Ravichandran, vice president of DevOps Product and Solutions Marketing at CA Technologies, has been named co-conference chair of DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017. The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Apr. 24, 2017 07:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,395
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
Apr. 24, 2017 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 711
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists will examine how DevOps helps to meet th...
Apr. 24, 2017 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 558
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Apr. 24, 2017 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 677
@GonzalezCarmen has been ranked the Number One Influencer and @ThingsExpo has been named the Number One Brand in the “M2M 2016: Top 100 Influencers and Brands” by Analytic. Onalytica analyzed tweets over the last 6 months mentioning the keywords M2M OR “Machine to Machine.” They then identified the top 100 most influential brands and individuals leading the discussion on Twitter.
Apr. 24, 2017 06:30 PM EDT Reads: 621
SYS-CON Events announced today that Twistlock, the leading provider of cloud container security solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Twistlock is the industry's first enterprise security suite for container security. Twistlock's technology addresses risks on the host and within the application of the container, enabling enterprises to consistently enforce security policies, monitor...
Apr. 24, 2017 04:45 PM EDT Reads: 3,415
Automation is enabling enterprises to design, deploy, and manage more complex, hybrid cloud environments. Yet the people who manage these environments must be trained in and understanding these environments better than ever before. A new era of analytics and cognitive computing is adding intelligence, but also more complexity, to these cloud environments. How smart is your cloud? How smart should it be? In this power panel at 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, pane...
Apr. 24, 2017 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,989
Quickly find the root cause of complex database problems slowing down your applications. Up to 88% of all application performance issues are related to the database. DPA’s unique response time analysis shows you exactly what needs fixing - in four clicks or less. Optimize performance anywhere. Database Performance Analyzer monitors on-premises, on VMware®, and in the Cloud, including Amazon® AWS and Azure™ virtual machines.
Apr. 24, 2017 04:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,639
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...
Apr. 24, 2017 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 577
@ThingsExpo has been named the Most Influential ‘Smart Cities - IIoT' Account and @BigDataExpo has been named fourteenth by Right Relevance (RR), which provides curated information and intelligence on approximately 50,000 topics. In addition, Right Relevance provides an Insights offering that combines the above Topics and Influencers information with real time conversations to provide actionable intelligence with visualizations to enable decision making. The Insights service is applicable to eve...
Apr. 24, 2017 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 2,536
SYS-CON Events announced today that Grape Up will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct. 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Grape Up is a software company specializing in cloud native application development and professional services related to Cloud Foundry PaaS. With five expert teams that operate in various sectors of the market across the U.S. and Europe, Grape Up works with a variety of customers from emergi...
Apr. 24, 2017 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,880
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with 20th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry p...
Apr. 24, 2017 02:45 PM EDT Reads: 611
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Apr. 24, 2017 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,111
SYS-CON Events announced today that Hitachi, the leading provider the Internet of Things and Digital Transformation, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Hitachi Data Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd., offers an integrated portfolio of services and solutions that enable digital transformation through enhanced data management, governance, mobility and analytics. We help globa...
Apr. 24, 2017 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 642
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and 21st International Cloud Expo, which will take place in November in Silicon Valley, California.
Apr. 24, 2017 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,146
@DevOpsSummit has been named the ‘Top DevOps Influencer' by iTrend. iTred processes millions of conversations, tweets, interactions, news articles, press releases, blog posts - and extract meaning form them and analyzes mobile and desktop software platforms used to communicate, various metadata (such as geo location), and automation tools. In overall placement, @DevOpsSummit ranked as the number one ‘DevOps Influencer' followed by @CloudExpo at third, and @MicroservicesE at 24th.
Apr. 24, 2017 11:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,639