|By Martin Etmajer||
|October 27, 2014 11:00 PM EDT||
How to Approach Application Failures in Production
In my recent article, "Software Quality Metrics for your Continuous Delivery Pipeline - Part III - Logging," I wrote about the good parts and the not-so-good parts of logging and concluded that logging usually fails to deliver what it is so often mistakenly used for: as a mechanism for analyzing application failures in production. In response to the heated debates on reddit.com/r/devops and reddit.com/r/programing, I want to demonstrate the wealth of out-of-the-box insights you could obtain from a single urgent, albeit unspecific log message if you only are equipped with the magic ingredient; full transaction context:
Examples of insights you could obtain from full transaction context on a single log message
Bear with me until I get to explain what this actually means and how it helps you get almost immediate answers to the most urgent questions when your users are struck by an application failure:
- "How many users are affected and who are they?"
- "Which tiers are affected by which errors and what is the root cause?"
Operator: I'm here because you broke something. (courtesy of ThinkGeek.com)
When All You Have Is a Lousy Log Message
Does this story sound familiar to you? It's a Friday afternoon and you just received the release artifacts from the development team belatedly, which need to be released by Monday morning. After spending the night and another day in operations to get this release out into production timely, you notice the Monday after that everything you have achieved in the end was some lousy log message:
08:55:26 SEVERE com.company.product.login.LoginLogic - LoginException occurred when processing Login transaction
While this scenario hopefully does not reflect a common case for you, it still shows an important aspect in the life of development and operations: working as an operator involves monitoring the production environment and providing assistance in troubleshooting application failures mainly with the help of log messages - things that developers have baked into their code. While certainly not all log messages need to be as poor as this one, getting down to the bottom of a production failure is often a tedious endeavor (see this comment on reddit by RecklessKelly who sometimes needs weeks to get his "Eureka moment") - if at all possible.
Why There Is No Such Thing as a 100% Error-Free Code
Production failures can become a major pain for your business with long-term effects: they will not only make your visitors buy elsewhere, but depending on the level of frustrations, your customers may choose to stay at your competition instead of giving you another chance.
As we all know, we just cannot get rid of application failures in production entirely. Agile methodologies, such as Extreme Programming or Scrum, aim to build quality into our processes; however, there is still no such thing as a 100% error-free application. "We need to write more tests!" you may argue and I would agree: disciplines such as TDD and ATDD should be an integral part of your software development process since they, if applied correctly, help you produce better code and fewer bugs. Still, it is simply impossible to test each and every corner of your application for all possible combinations of input parameters and application state. Essentially, we can run only a limited subset of all possible test scenarios. The common goal of developers and test automation engineers, hence, must be to implement a testing strategy, which allows them to deliver code of sufficient quality. Consequently, there is always a chance that something can go wrong, and, as a serious business, you will want to be prepared for the unpredictable and, additionally, have as much control over it as possible:
Why you cannot get rid of application failures in production: remaining failure probability
Without further ado, let's examine some precious out-of-the-box insights you could obtain if you are equipped with full transaction context and are able to capture all transactions.
Why this is important? Because it enables you to see the contributions of input parameters, processes, infrastructure and users at all times whenever a failure occurred, solve problems faster, and additionally use the presented information such as unexpected input parameters to further improve your testing strategy.
Initial Situation: Aggregated Log Messages
Instead of crawling a bunch of possibly distributed log files to determine the count of particular log messages, we may, first of all, want to have this done automatically for us just as they happen. This gives a good overview on the respective message frequencies and facilitates prioritization:
Aggregated log events: severity, logger name, message and count
What we see here (analysis view based on our PurePath technology) is that there have been 104 occurrences of the same log message in the application. We could also observe other captured event data, such as the severity level and the name of the logger instance (usually the name of the class that created the logger).
Question #1: How many users are affected and who are they?
Failed Business Transactions: "Logins" and "Logins by Username"
Having the full transactional context and not just the log message allows us to figure out which critical Business Transactions of our application are impacted. From the dashboard above we can observe that "Logins" and "Logins by Username" have failed: we see that 61 users attempted the 104 logins and who these users were by their username.
For questions 2 and 3, and for further insight, click here for the full article.
"Splunk basically takes machine data and we make it usable, valuable and accessible for everyone. The way that plays in DevOps is - we need to make data-driven decisions to delivering applications," explained Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk and @DevOpsSummit Conference Chair, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 18, 2017 01:00 AM EST Reads: 2,015
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between what is available in the public cloud and the early private clouds?
Jan. 18, 2017 01:00 AM EST Reads: 6,046
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, Alex Lovell-Troy, Director of Solutions Engineering at Pythian, presented a roadmap that can be leveraged by any organization to plan, analyze, evaluate, and execute on moving from configuration management tools to cloud orchestration tools. He also addressed the three major cloud vendors as well as some tools that will work with any cloud.
Jan. 18, 2017 12:45 AM EST Reads: 5,953
"Logz.io is a log analytics platform. We offer the ELK stack, which is the most common log analytics platform in the world. We offer it as a cloud service," explained Tomer Levy, co-founder and CEO of Logz.io, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit, held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 18, 2017 12:45 AM EST Reads: 6,254
In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Robert Doyle, lead architect at eCube Systems, will examine the issues and need for an agile infrastructure and show the advantages of capturing developer knowledge in an exportable file for migration into production. He will introduce the use of NXTmonitor, a next-generation DevOps tool that captures application environments, dependencies and start/stop procedures in a portable configuration file with an easy-to-use GUI. In addition to capturing configuration information between Development, Test and Production, the case study shows how NXTmonitor can create dependencies, automate health scripts and scalable performance groups to handle peak production loads.
Jan. 18, 2017 12:30 AM EST Reads: 2,788
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of DevOps with containers. In addition, he will discuss known issues and solutions for enterprise applications in containers.
Jan. 17, 2017 11:15 PM EST Reads: 4,947
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, John Jelinek IV, a web developer at Linux Academy, will discuss why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers with heavy investments in serverless computing, when most of the industry has its eyes on Docker and containers.
Jan. 17, 2017 11:00 PM EST Reads: 637
DevOps and microservices are permeating software engineering teams broadly, whether these teams are in pure software shops but happen to run a business, such Uber and Airbnb, or in companies that rely heavily on software to run more traditional business, such as financial firms or high-end manufacturers. Microservices and DevOps have created software development and therefore business speed and agility benefits, but they have also created problems; specifically, they have created software security issues.
Jan. 17, 2017 09:30 PM EST Reads: 1,806
"There is a huge interest in Kubernetes. People are now starting to use Kubernetes and implement it," stated Sebastian Scheele, co-founder of Loodse, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Jan. 17, 2017 08:45 PM EST Reads: 1,960
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the works because of misaligned incentives.
Jan. 17, 2017 04:45 PM EST Reads: 1,035
In his session at DevOps Summit, Tapabrata Pal, Director of Enterprise Architecture at Capital One, will tell a story about how Capital One has embraced Agile and DevOps Security practices across the Enterprise – driven by Enterprise Architecture; bringing in Development, Operations and Information Security organizations together. Capital Ones DevOpsSec practice is based upon three "pillars" – Shift-Left, Automate Everything, Dashboard Everything. Within about three years, from 100% waterfall, Capital One now has 500+ Agile Teams delivering quality software via Agile and DevOps practices.
Jan. 17, 2017 04:30 PM EST Reads: 9,776
"We're bringing out a new application monitoring system to the DevOps space. It manages large enterprise applications that are distributed throughout a node in many enterprises and we manage them as one collective," explained Kevin Barnes, President of eCube Systems, 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.
Jan. 17, 2017 03:30 PM EST Reads: 5,336
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and containers together help companies achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, reviewed the current landscape of DevOps with containers and the benefits. In addition, he discussed known issues and solutions for enterprise applications in containers.
Jan. 17, 2017 02:45 PM EST Reads: 4,127
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint, a leading digital experience intelligence company, has been named “Silver 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, NY. Catchpoint Systems is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into your customer-critical services to help you consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed for digital business, Catchpoint is the only end-user experience monitoring (EUM) platform that can simultaneously capture, index and analyze object-level performance data inline across the most extensive monitor types and node coverage, enabling a smarter, faster way to preempt issues and optimize service delivery. More than 350 customers in over 30 countries trust Catchpoint to strengthen their brand and grow their bu...
Jan. 17, 2017 02:30 PM EST Reads: 1,749
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud taking place June 6-8, 2017, at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
Jan. 17, 2017 02:15 PM EST Reads: 3,373
Updating DevOps to the latest production data slows down your development cycle. Probably it is due to slow, inefficient conventional storage and associated copy data management practices. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dhiraj Sehgal, in Product and Solution at Tintri, will talk about DevOps and cloud-focused storage to update hundreds of child VMs (different flavors) with updates from a master VM in minutes, saving hours or even days in each development cycle. He will also discuss how the "Ops" side of DevOps is making their life easier and becoming invisible to developers for storage-related provisioning and application performance.
Jan. 17, 2017 02:00 PM EST Reads: 1,087
When you focus on a journey from up-close, you look at your own technical and cultural history and how you changed it for the benefit of the customer. This was our starting point: too many integration issues, 13 SWP days and very long cycles. It was evident that in this fast-paced industry we could no longer afford this reality. We needed something that would take us beyond reducing the development lifecycles, CI and Agile methodologies. We made a fundamental difference, even changed our culture.
Jan. 17, 2017 01:45 PM EST Reads: 865
“RackN is a software company and we take how a hybrid infrastructure scenario, which consists of clouds, virtualization, traditional data center technologies - how to make them all work together seamlessly from an operational perspective,” stated Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jan. 17, 2017 01:15 PM EST Reads: 3,539
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Jan. 17, 2017 12:45 PM EST Reads: 3,437
"Tintri was started in 2008 with the express purpose of building a storage appliance that is ideal for virtualized environments. We support a lot of different hypervisor platforms from VMware to OpenStack to Hyper-V," explained Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jan. 17, 2017 12:45 PM EST Reads: 4,510
"There's a growing demand from users for things to be faster. When you think about all the transactions or interactions users will have with your product and everything that is between those transactions and interactions - what drives us at Catchpoint Systems is the idea to measure that and to analyze it," explained Leo Vasiliou, Director of Web Performance Engineering at Catchpoint Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jan. 17, 2017 12:45 PM EST Reads: 5,566
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 today!
Jan. 17, 2017 12:45 PM EST Reads: 5,078
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dataloop.IO, an innovator in cloud IT-monitoring whose products help organizations save time and money, has been named “Bronze 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, NY. Dataloop.IO is an emerging software company on the cutting edge of major IT-infrastructure trends including cloud computing and microservices. The company, founded in the UK but now based in San Francisco, is developing the next generation of cloud monitoring required for microservices and DevOps.
Jan. 17, 2017 12:15 PM EST Reads: 2,459
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in Embedded and IoT solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology, is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data Center, Cloud Computing, Enterprise IT, Hadoop/Big Data, HPC and Embedded Systems worldwide. Supermicro is committed to protecting the environment through its “We Keep IT Green®” initiative and provides customers with the most energy-efficient, environmentally friendly solutions available on the market.
Jan. 17, 2017 11:45 AM EST Reads: 5,727
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, 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. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to change lives by teaching Linux and cloud technology to the tens of thousands of students that learn at the Linux Academy.
Jan. 17, 2017 11:45 AM EST Reads: 1,918