Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Ruxit Blog, Lori MacVittie, SmartBear Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, @BigDataExpo, SDN Journal

@CloudExpo: Article

Twitter Is Not a SaaS Monitoring Solution

The crowd can help IT, but only if the right information is shared

A few weeks ago I was trying to update some files I have stored on a cloud storage service (that will remain nameless). I had moved my files there a while back as a way to make it easier to access them from my various devices and to avoid losing them during the next inevitable hard drive failure. For the most part I've been happy with the service, but on this day, I was unable to access the site.

Not good, as I was rushing to make some changes and send the files to a colleague.

Frustrated by my situation, I asked a co-worker to see if he was also having problems. He was, so we did the next logical thing you would expect. We went to the service provider's status page to see what they had to say. According to it, the service was healthy and there were no current service or maintenance notices.

#nowwhat?
Twitter! Of course. Whenever services like YouTube or Hulu have outages, users light-up Twitter with comments and laments. Sure enough, a quick Twitter search showed that, yes, there was a widespread problem that had started only a few minutes prior, and already there was a trending hashtag.

This example shows what's great about Twitter. It is an immensely powerful platform for creating instant virtual communities sharing information and opinion around a topic of common interest. The Twitter community as a group was able to do a better job than the service provider itself of informing users that there was a problem with the service.  I and the other storage service users -- at least the ones also on Twitter -- had formed an impromptu global network of monitors, watching the service from hundreds of thousands of access points. Together could confirm for each other that there was a service-wide outage.

#problemsolved?
Well, not really. Yes, I could see a number of people on Twitter reporting that they couldn't access the service, but this was all anecdotal information (along with a fair amount of opinion). I had no idea who these other users were or where they were located. For all I knew we might all be customers of the same internet service provider and maybe the problem was there and not with the storage service itself. In addition, while I could go to Twitter to confirm that I wasn't the only one experiencing an outage -- even as the service provider's status dashboard said everything was okay -- I was still searching for evidence after the fact. There was no practical way for me to be notified proactively, nor was I able to reliably see service performance degrading prior to the outage.

Herein lies the problem for manufacturers, or any organization, looking to leverage SaaS applications -- particularly mission critical email, collaboration, and document storage -- as part of their IT infrastructure. While it may be okay for me to use Twitter to monitor Hulu, you obviously can't operate a business this way. Organizations need the same level of visibility and troubleshooting capability for SaaS apps that they've come to rely on for traditional on-premise applications. This includes:

  • Proactive issue detection and alerting
  • Quantitative data on application performance
  • Ability to accurately measure service level attainment v. target goals
  • Ability to identify problem sources so the time to isolate and fix is minimized

That last one is particularly tricky for SaaS since most of the datacenter and network infrastructure is outside organizations' IT perimeters. You can't directly see or touch the server or network equipment and neither can your traditional monitoring and management tools. It's not surprising, then, that we often hear from IT admins that they have had to resort to using Twitter because otherwise they are flying completely blind. It's not enough, but at least it's something.

#saasvisibility
Despite its shortcomings, there is a lot to be said for the "power of the crowd" that is so fundamental to Twitter. What if we could take that same model and use it to proactively monitor our SaaS applications?  First, it would require some type of active monitoring behind your firewall at the locations where users access their SaaS applications. These "sensors" could act like Twitter users, constantly running transactions against the service and collecting data on transaction and network node performance. They would also allow you to proactively detect and notify an IT Admin of any outages or performance anomalies BEFORE they impact your users.

Then, what if we could collect and share real-time performance data from those sensors (yours as well as other users' sensors) into a global database maintained as part of your cloud service. You'd then be able to access this data to gain visibility into the health of the complete service delivery chain between you and the SaaS provider. For example, you could:

  • View current status, alerts, network statistics, and performance trends for one or more of your own sensors to determine if you have service issues affecting a particular location or subnet, so you can point and fix faults in your own infrastructure and get users back online quickly
  • Analyze your sensor data with the rest of the crowd to determine whether service issues are systemic to the application provider or the result of downstream internet service provider problems; you may not be able to fix these directly, but with this information you would know which service provider to call and could provide them with details to speed their time to resolution
  • Confirm exactly what service levels you are getting from your application service providers, with detailed outage data needed both for internal reporting and for provider service level guaranty refund requests

The goal of every IT shop is to keep their application users online and happy. But with SaaS, that's more difficult to do because administrators do not have the same visibility that they do with on-premise applications. We, as a community, need to come up with ways to change that. Taking a cue from Twitter, and leveraging the crowd - seems like a great place to start.

More Stories By Patrick Carey

Patrick Carey is vice president of product management and marketing for Exoprise, a provider of cloud-based monitoring and enablement solutions for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. He spends his free time thinking about how companies can get to the cloud faster and stay there longer.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Venafi, the Immune System for the Internet™ and the leading provider of Next Generation Trust Protection, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Venafi is the Immune System for the Internet™ that protects the foundation of all cybersecurity – cryptographic keys and digital certificates – so they can’t be misused by bad guys in attacks...
Ovum, a leading technology analyst firm, has published an in-depth report, Ovum Decision Matrix: Selecting a DevOps Release Management Solution, 2016–17. The report focuses on the automation aspects of DevOps, Release Management and compares solutions from the leading vendors.
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
This is a no-hype, pragmatic post about why I think you should consider architecting your next project the way SOA and/or microservices suggest. No matter if it’s a greenfield approach or if you’re in dire need of refactoring. Please note: considering still keeps open the option of not taking that approach. After reading this, you will have a better idea about whether building multiple small components instead of a single, large component makes sense for your project. This post assumes that you...
Sharding has become a popular means of achieving scalability in application architectures in which read/write data separation is not only possible, but desirable to achieve new heights of concurrency. The premise is that by splitting up read and write duties, it is possible to get better overall performance at the cost of a slight delay in consistency. That is, it takes a bit of time to replicate changes initiated by a "write" to the read-only master database. It's eventually consistent, and it'...
Before becoming a developer, I was in the high school band. I played several brass instruments - including French horn and cornet - as well as keyboards in the jazz stage band. A musician and a nerd, what can I say? I even dabbled in writing music for the band. Okay, mostly I wrote arrangements of pop music, so the band could keep the crowd entertained during Friday night football games. What struck me then was that, to write parts for all the instruments - brass, woodwind, percussion, even k...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Isomorphic Software will exhibit at DevOps Summit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Isomorphic Software provides the SmartClient HTML5/AJAX platform, the most advanced technology for building rich, cutting-edge enterprise web applications for desktop and mobile. SmartClient combines the productivity and performance of traditional desktop software with the simp...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
When people aren’t talking about VMs and containers, they’re talking about serverless architecture. Serverless is about no maintenance. It means you are not worried about low-level infrastructural and operational details. An event-driven serverless platform is a great use case for IoT. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Animesh Singh, an STSM and Lead for IBM Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, will detail how to build a distributed serverless, polyglot, microservices framework using open source tec...
The 19th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, 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 opportuni...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 19th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
There's a lot of things we do to improve the performance of web and mobile applications. We use caching. We use compression. We offload security (SSL and TLS) to a proxy with greater compute capacity. We apply image optimization and minification to content. We do all that because performance is king. Failure to perform can be, for many businesses, equivalent to an outage with increased abandonment rates and angry customers taking to the Internet to express their extreme displeasure.
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Yoseph Reuveni, Director of Software Engineering at Jet.com, will discuss Jet.com's journey into containerizing Microsoft-based technologies like C# and F# into Docker. He will talk about lessons learned and challenges faced, the Mono framework tryout and how they deployed everything into Azure cloud. Yoseph Reuveni is a technology leader with unique experience developing and running high throughput (over 1M tps) distributed systems with extre...
"We provide DevOps solutions. We also partner with some key players in the DevOps space and we use the technology that we partner with to engineer custom solutions for different organizations," stated Himanshu Chhetri, CTO of Addteq, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor – all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...

Let's just nip the conflation of these terms in the bud, shall we?

"MIcro" is big these days. Both microservices and microsegmentation are having and will continue to have an impact on data center architecture, but not necessarily for the same reasons. There's a growing trend in which folks - particularly those with a network background - conflate the two and use them to mean the same thing.

They are not.

One is about the application. The other, the network. T...

Right off the bat, Newman advises that we should "think of microservices as a specific approach for SOA in the same way that XP or Scrum are specific approaches for Agile Software development". These analogies are very interesting because my expectation was that microservices is a pattern. So I might infer that microservices is a set of process techniques as opposed to an architectural approach. Yet in the book, Newman clearly includes some elements of concept model and architecture as well as p...