Chasing a Moving Target: APM in the Cloud - Part 2
Detection, Analysis and Action
February 21, 2013

Albert Mavashev
Nastel Technologies

Share this

In my last blog, I discussed strategies for dealing with the complexities of monitoring performance in the various stacks that make up a cloud implementation. Here, we will look at ways to detect trends, analyze your data, and act on it.

The first requirement for detecting trends in application performance in the cloud is to have good information delivered in a timely manner about each stack as well as the application.
  
We acquire this information via data collectors that harvest all relevant indicators within the same clock tick. For example: response time, GC activity, memory usage, CPU Usage. Doing this within the same clock tick is called serialization. It is of little use to know I have a failed transaction at time X, but only have CPU and memory data from X minus 10 minutes.

Next, we require a history for each metric. This can be maintained in memory for near real-time analysis, but we also need to use slower storage for longer-term views.

Finally, we apply pattern matching to the data. We might scan and match metrics such as “find all applications whose GC is above High Bollinger Band for 2+ samples.” Doing this in memory can enable very fast detection across a large number of indicators.

Here are three steps you can use to detect performance trends

1. Measure the relevant application performance indicators on the business side such as orders filled, failed or missed. And then, measure the ones on the IT side such as  JVM GC activity, memory, I/O rates.

2. Create a base line for each relevant indicator. This could a 1- to60-second sampling for near real-time monitoring. In addition set up a 1-, 10- and 15-minute sample or even daily, weekly or monthly for those longer in duration. You need both.

3. Apply analytics to determine trends and behavior

Keeping it Simple

Applying analytics can be easier than you expect. In fact, the more simple you keep it, the better.

The following three simple analytical techniques can be used in order to detect anomalies:

1. Bollinger Bands – 2 standard deviations off the mean – low and high. The normal is 2 standard deviations from the mean.

2. Percent of Change – This means comparing sample to sample, day to day or week to week, and calculating the percentage of change.

3. Velocity – Essentially this measures how fast indicators are changing. For example, you might be measuring response time and it drops from 10 to 20 seconds over a five-second interval or (20-10)/5 = 2 units/sec. With this technique, we are expecting a certain amount of change; however, when the amount of change is changing at an abnormal rate, we have most likely detected an anomaly.

Now That You Know ... Act On It

After the analysis, the next activity is to take action. This could be alerts, notification or system actions such as restarting processes or even resubmitting orders. Here, we are connecting the dots between IT and the business and alerting the appropriate owners. 

And In Conclusion

Elastic cloud-based applications can’t be monitored effectively using static models, as these models assume constancy. And the one thing constant about these applications is their volatility. In these environments, what was abnormal yesterday might likely be normal today. As a result, what static models indicate may be wrong. 

However, using a methodology comprised of gathering both business and IT metrics, creating automated base lines and applying analytics to them in real time can produce effective results and predict behavior. 

Albert Mavashev is Chief Technology Officer at Nastel Technologies.

Share this

The Latest

October 21, 2021

Scaling DevOps and SRE practices is critical to accelerating the release of high-quality digital services. However, siloed teams, manual approaches, and increasingly complex tooling slow innovation and make teams more reactive than proactive, impeding their ability to drive value for the business, according to a new report from Dynatrace, Deep Cloud Observability and Advanced AIOps are Key to Scaling DevOps Practices ...

October 20, 2021

Over three quarters (79%) of database professionals are now using either a paid-for or in-house monitoring tool, according to a new survey from Redgate Software ...

October 19, 2021

Gartner announced the top strategic technology trends that organizations need to explore in 2022. With CEOs and Boards striving to find growth through direct digital connections with customers, CIOs' priorities must reflect the same business imperatives, which run through each of Gartner's top strategic tech trends for 2022 ...

October 18, 2021

Distributed tracing has been growing in popularity as a primary tool for investigating performance issues in microservices systems. Our recent DevOps Pulse survey shows a 38% increase year-over-year in organizations' tracing use. Furthermore, 64% of those respondents who are not yet using tracing indicated plans to adopt it in the next two years ...

October 14, 2021

Businesses are embracing artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to improve network performance and security, according to a new State of AIOps Study, conducted by ZK Research and Masergy ...

October 13, 2021

What may have appeared to be a stopgap solution in the spring of 2020 is now clearly our new workplace reality: It's impossible to walk back so many of the developments in workflow we've seen since then. The question is no longer when we'll all get back to the office, but how the companies that are lagging in their technological ability to facilitate remote work can catch up ...

October 12, 2021

The pandemic accelerated organizations' journey to the cloud to enable agile, on-demand, flexible access to resources, helping them align with a digital business's dynamic needs. We heard from many of our customers at the start of lockdown last year, saying they had to shift to a remote work environment, seemingly overnight, and this effort was heavily cloud-reliant. However, blindly forging ahead can backfire ...

October 07, 2021

SmartBear recently released the results of its 2021 State of Software Quality | Testing survey. I doubt you'll be surprised to hear that a "lack of time" was reported as the number one challenge to doing more testing, especially as release frequencies continue to increase. However, it was disheartening to see that a lack of time was also the number one response when we asked people to identify the biggest blocker to professional development ...

October 06, 2021

The role of the CIO is evolving with an increased focus on unlocking customer connections through service innovation, according to the 2021 Global CIO Survey. The study reveals the shift in the role of the CIO with the majority of CIO respondents stating innovation, operational efficiency, and customer experience as their top priorities ...

October 05, 2021

The perception of IT support has dramatically improved thanks to the successful response of service desks to the pandemic, lockdowns and working from home, according to new research from the Service Desk Institute (SDI), sponsored by Sunrise Software ...