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Effective monitoring and alerting strategies in DevOps

A robust monitoring and alerting strategy is a cornerstone of a successful DevOps workflow.
It not only ensures system reliability and performance but also enables teams to proactively address issues before they impact the end users.

A successful monitoring and alerting strategy combines appropriate tools, metrics, processes, and automation, aligning with the DevOps objective of swiftly deploying software of high quality.

But where do we begin?

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https://medium.com/@extio/unveiling-the-architectural-brilliance-of-prometheus-af07cca14896

Define achievable goals and metrics

Numerous tools are available to assist in scraping the resources we wish to track. However,
without proper configuration, attempting to monitor everything can result in an abundance of ineffective metrics. Let’s begin with the most common configurations and explore the tools that are best suited for these tasks:

  • To scrape logs, we require a solution that can observe the log destination and
    forward it to a centralized storage. Loki paired with Promtail serves this purpose
    efficiently. Loki is designed for horizontal scalability, cost-effectiveness, and easy
    setup, making it an ideal choice for aggregating and querying logs from various
    sources. Promtail, on the other hand, is an agent which ships the contents of local
    logs to a Loki instance, thus facilitating the log collection process.

  • For container metrics, such as total restarts, CPU and memory usage, and more,
    Prometheus is the go-to solution. It’s particularly powerful for scraping and storing
    time-series data. When working with Docker containers, Prometheus can collect
    metrics directly from the Docker daemon. Additionally, in a Kubernetes environment,
    kube-state-metrics can be used alongside Prometheus. Kube-state-metrics
    listens to the Kubernetes API server and generates metrics about the state of the
    objects (such as deployments, nodes, and pods), which can then be scraped by
    Prometheus for comprehensive monitoring.

  • Regarding the underlying infrastructure, metrics related to the physical or virtual
    machines, such as CPU, memory, disk, and network utilization, are crucial. This is
    where Node Exporter comes into play. Node Exporter is a Prometheus exporter
    that collects hardware and OS metrics exposed by *NIX kernels, allowing for detailed
    monitoring of the system resources and performance. This tool is essential for
    gaining visibility into the operational health of the infrastructure supporting your
    applications.

The Prometheus ecosystem, of which the Node Exportor is a part, supports a wide variety of
exporters that can monitor different aspects of your systems, services, and infrastructure.
Each exporter is designed to fetch statistics from a specific source and present them in a
format that Prometheus can scrape and store.

Visual Data Exploration

Once all our resources have been scraped and metrics collected, we can turn our attention
to the visualization and analysis phase, where tools like Grafana play a crucial role.

  • Grafana enables us to create dynamic, insightful dashboards that bring our data to life, which can be seen on the image below.

Through its comprehensive support for various data sources like Loki or Prometheus, Grafana allows us to aggregate and visualize metrics, logs, and traces in a coherent and customizable interface.

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https://grafana.com/grafana/

Instant Notifications with AlertManager

Metrics collected, visualizations configured鈥攜et, we cannot constantly monitor Grafana, as
the sheer volume of information is overwhelming.

Enter Alertmanager, a vital cog in the observability ecosystem, designed to streamline alert management.

It adeptly manages alerts generated by Prometheus, efficiently handling deduplication, grouping, and routing, ensuring that notifications are both meaningful and manageable.

Alertmanager’s integration with a wide array of notification platforms, such as:

  • PagerDuty for on-call scheduling,
  • Slack for team communication, and
  • Discord for community engagement,

ensures that alerts reach the right people through their preferred channels.

Picture of Pavol Krajkovic

Pavol Krajkovic

DevOps Specialist and Consultant

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