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December 10, 2020 By Pawel Brzoska

Application Performance Management for Microservices with Sumo Logic

Distributed tracing allows you to track the execution of your user's transactions by following them between applications’ microservices. It provides easy to understand visualizations of transactional lifespan with the ability to pinpoint any slowdowns and errors in response to microservices.

During my presentation at Illuminate, I shared that we extended the Sumo Logic platform to cover application performance use cases. This will allow teams to enjoy the value of distributed tracing directly in Sumo Logic, making it the observability platform of choice for all end-to-end, top-down reliability needs.

To understand the benefits of Sumo Logic’s end-to-end observability platform, it’s important to look at the current state of how most orgs strive to have complete visibility into their microservices and infrastructure.

Challenges in tracing data collection

Most companies understand the importance of having full visibility into their application performance data through tracing, but a major blocker has been how black box vendors require specific instrumentation when it comes to collecting tracing data. This locks you in, slows down integration, and dictates how you should build your application and how your monitoring should look like.

In speaking with Sumo Logic customers, an overwhelming number of orgs prefer open source methods when it comes to collecting tracing data. The industry trend is that in a few years’ time, half of the new microservice-based applications will use open source instrumentation instead of vendor specific agents, and leading analysts advise everyone to adopt Open Telemetry as soon as possible as it is the emerging standard for tracing collection. It’s free, flexible, and secure.

In extending Sumo Logic to cover distributed tracing, Open Telemetry is fully supported alongside legacy OpenTracing and OpenCensus standards. It makes adoption simpler—you just have to change your exporter configuration to point at Sumo Logic’s OpenTelemetry collector and you can already onboard tracing data in the new UI within Sumo Logic.

End-to-end observability in a single platform

Addressing the need to have an end-to-end observability platform is key in monitoring and troubleshooting application performance problems with tracing data as shown in this demo which includes both already released and beta-ready capabilities.

Sumo Logic’s observability platform delivers everything on a single platform, in a single UI, in a single product that can solve all your application liabilities. There is always that Infrastructure tab that allows you to jump to other dashboards, to logs, to traces, or to metrics seamlessly. This is a difficult task to stitch all these signals together, but Sumo Logic does the hard work on the backend for you. Additionally, we’re working on delivering capabilities like browser monitoring and span analytics very soon.

In our view, the capabilities in Sumo Logic's overall observability platform are a natural extension of the current use cases for Sumo Logic. It’s not a standalone product duct-taped to the rest of the platform. It’s open and flexible, scalable and secure, and delivers the same great integrated analytics you already enjoy within Sumo Logic for logs and metrics.

Having everything in a single platform enables your teams top-down observability for application performance use cases. You can:

  • Aggregate data via dashboards that give full visibility into microservices’ health
  • Correlate with infrastructure KPIs and track application dependencies using flow diagrams or topology maps (currently in beta)
  • Search for faulty or slow transactions and troubleshoot with drill downs to logs and infrastructure KPIs

You can find more information on the product here.

Elementum’s experience in beta with Sumo Logic

Norberto Kueffner is the Site Reliability Engineering Manager for Elementum, a supply chain management software company.

On a high level, they deal with a complex microservices architecture supported by DC/OS and Kubernetes orchestrators. Their team deals with a lot of customer data, from shipping information to locations and points on maps, requiring multiple data ingestion pipelines through several interfaces. Their application is also multi-tenant, so users can also be working with different enterprises with different requirements like having to validate each signature of each of the cores of all microservices supported by their orchestractors, generating a wealth of data that is heavy on the platform. All this makes tracing a big deal for the company.

Before getting on the Sumo Logic beta for better end-to-end visibility into their application, they had different vendors for tracing, app performance monitoring, and metrics. In this setup, they constantly deal with several issues:

  1. Bulky contracts with different vendors
  2. Double training for developers
  3. Multiple interfaces/configurations
  4. Difficulty in correlating tracing/logs/hosts/issues
  5. Managing multiple agents, collectors and settings

With addressing these issues in mind, Elementum’s SR team tried Sumo Logic as an early adopter of the extended capabilities for observability in distributed tracing.

In their experience, deployment was pain-free with the use of Open Telemetry for collecting tracing events. Norberto shared that not having to use vendor-based collectors made things so much easier and simpler for them. Ingesting data from their EKS cluster and configuring dashboards on Sumo Logic was successful and automatically configured in the first try.

Inside the platform, their developers saw immediate value with the level of integration made available, especially how intuitive span visualization and search have been made within Sumo Logic. Everything is two clicks away--from tracing events to logging events, to identifying any infrastructure failure and bottlenecks, a level of visibility that they haven’t experienced from other vendor stacks.

From there, it was easier for their team to roll out new features, fixes, and improvements. They are finding root causes of integration issues or bottlenecks super fast and much easier than before. They previously have had to jump between two or three different provider platforms, whereas in Sumo Logic it's just point and click and follow the trace.

With their great experience in beta, the Elementum team has now moved into staging and production environments in Sumo Logic, and can now do away with using multiple solutions from various vendors for their observability needs.

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Pawel Brzoska

Pawel Brzoska

Principal Technical Product Manager

More posts by Pawel Brzoska.

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