A Beginner’s Guide to Container Monitoring

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A Beginner’s Guide to Container Monitoring

The widespread use of containers in DevOps allows dev teams to increase their efficiency in application development.

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The widespread use of containers in DevOps allows dev teams to increase their efficiency in application development and enables them to bypass the barrier of different computing environments for their apps. However, to avoid creating blind spots and hidden performance issues in their software, developers need a way to monitor those containers.

Container monitoring allows you to track all of the metrics and states of your containers. Also, it lets you safely implement changes without causing mayhem in the remaining parts. Proper monitoring ensures the undeniable benefits of using containers while minimizing the downsides.

This article will provide a thorough introduction to the concept of "container monitoring," how it works, and why it's essential to managing containers.

What Are Containers?

Containers are a way to package microservices, applications, or software. They differ from Virtual Machines (VM) by not carrying an Operating System (OS) but only the needed code, libraries, and executables. This makes containers extraordinarily lightweight and easy to manage, both as connected and separate units. For larger and more sophisticated software, multiple containers work in unison in what's known as Container Clusters, managed by a container orchestrator, which automates the process of deployment and scaling. 

Containers and DevOps

All in all, it's containers that made the work of DevOps teams much easier and allows them to shorten the development life cycle of their applications. Previously, developers had to build complicated release plans and pipelines for the deployment process, but containers eliminated that by offering a heavily controlled and precise environment to build software. They also allowed IT teams to focus on the management part, rather than worrying whether the application works with their OS.

What Is Container Monitoring?

Container monitoring is performed using a specialized system to track and gather the metrics of application or software running on containers. The various metrics are recorded in real-time and include CPU usage and limit, and memory usage and limit. Analyzing these metrics allows the developers to know whether the software is meeting their expectations and standards while helping them troubleshoot issues that need fixing. 

Best Used Languages in Containers

While containers generally remain unaffected by the OS and programming language, it's still important to use a language that best suits what you're building. Containers need to be flexible to withstand scaling and frequent updates, but they also need to operate well when it's time for users to run them.

It's important to note that you should choose a language that you, and your team, are the most comfortable working with and have the most experience in. However, several factors you need to take into consideration include:

  • Running Speed — The resulting app needs to start quickly and close off cleanly.

  • Crashing — If your app faces an error where it can't move forward safely, it needs to handle it by sending an error message instead of crashing.

  • CPU Usage — Most of the time, your app won't be the only thing running; make sure it has minimal effect on the CPU.

The general advice would be not to use VM-based languages — as they use a lot of resources. In addition, make sure the language is simple and easy to code and debug.

The Benefits of Container Monitoring

Unlike virtual machines, containers are small in their size but significant in their numbers. Keeping track of all the separate containers and container clusters can be hard to scale with your operations, as it requires a lot of time and effort while having a high margin of error.

Since the point of using containers is to speed up software update deployment, the contents of the containers are rapidly changing, which can result in undetected execution errors and performance issues. Container monitoring works by increasing visibility to prevent as many bugs and performance issues as possible by identifying them in the early stages of development.

Container Monitoring Systems provide developers with the vital information they need through a user-friendly interface. The information is contained by log files that can then be traced back to specific containers and parts of the running process. 

The Different Solutions

Picking the right solution for your container monitoring needs is both a technical and a business decision. After all, having a system that properly manages your containers can affect the software development and update, as well as the business's profit and mean time to resolution (MTTR).

Build or Buy

The first step to take is to determine whether you'll be buying a 3rd party monitoring system or building your own. Building a system from scratch can have great benefits by offering customization of the exact features you want, focusing on the parts that matter most to you while not giving the time of day to ones that don't. However, this choice falls behind in terms of time and cost, when compared to buying a pre-made system, even if it's highly customizable.

Making the right decision depends on your current resources and future business plans — whether you plan on growing or remaining a small/local business or wish to future proof your business operations for growth and scalability. Of course, circumstances change, that's why it's imperative to make a well-thought-out decision.

Cloud-Based or On-Site

Another factor to consider is whether you want a cloud-based system or an on-site one. Factors to consider here include the level of control you want over your work and privacy concerns. On-site systems can be quite costly as they require physical space and regular maintenance, compared to the cloud.

Finally, have a clear understanding of what goes into your containers, and what might be going into them in the foreseeable future. From programming languages to specific tools, it's essential to know the features of the solution you're investing in.

When choosing a container monitoring solution, there are four additional factors you’ll need to consider:

  • Supported data types and programming languages — and their libraries.

  • How it presents logged data and information.

  • Alerts for detecting various abnormalities.

  • A user-friendly interface. 

One example of a platform that covers all of the requirements above is the Logit.io platform for container monitoring.

The Future of Container Monitoring

Having pinpointed all of your conditions, needs, and requirements — and decided on buying; there are many options available on the market at different price points and with various features. The thing to note is that container and container monitoring technology is continuously evolving, and what works wonders today, might need a radical upgrade tomorrow. Staying on top of the latest developments is the best practice for utilizing this tech to the fullest.

container, devops, monitor

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