November 7, 2017

Understanding Tracing

Five questions for Bryan Liles on the complexities of tracing, recommended tools and skills, and how to learn more about monitoring.

The first thing that makes tracing complex is understanding how it fits into your application monitoring stack. I like to break down monitoring into metrics, logs, and tracing. Tracing allows you to understand how your application's components interact with themselves and any potential consumers. Secondly, finding a good toolset that works a diverse application infrastructure is also complex. This is why I'm hoping to see OpenTracing become more successful since it provides a good interface based on real world work at Google and Twitter. Finally, tracing is complex because of the amount of components involved. If you working in a large microservice-based application, you could have scores of microservices coupled with databases of many types and other applications as well. Combined with the tracing infrastructure, this leads to a large amount of items to consider. OpenTracing helps again by providing standards and clients to help simplify integration for the developer and operations teams.

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