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Keeping An Eye On Containers with Ixia CloudLens

Containers have changed the way we make apps. You may think they are just a flash in the pan. However, if you’re using an app based in the cloud you’re likely using a containerized program or four. Containers have been a boon for application developers to isolate processes, reduce footprint, and increase portability by an enormous amount.

However, containers do make a few things that we do in today’s systems a bit harder. One of those things is monitoring. When you isolate a specific process or thread to run in its own environment, you also remove any other things that run alongside it. When your operating area is the smallest possible footprint you don’t leave a lot of room for things like monitoring processes or agents. Even the networking communications between containers is isolated. That can lead to traffic looping between hosts and never being seen by external monitoring agents. How can you monitor an invisible isolated system?

Magnifying On The Solution

Ixia is leading the way in monitoring containers with their CloudLens solution. CloudLens addresses quite a few of the problems of monitoring software that runs outside of the control of your infrastructure, whether it be a cloud-based app running on Microsoft Azure or a containerized app running in a private data center.

How can Ixia get around the visibility of containers? Quite simply, Ixia built the container monitoring solution into a container! It sounds rather elegant when you think about it. Containers can be attached to other containers and share their networking processes. Containers can be inserted into the service chain of other containers and process traffic as it moves between hosts or clusters. And containers have the portability to be installed almost anywhere. No need to worry about cumbersome host agents or creating heavy virtual machines in the cloud that need far more resources than necessary to operate.

In the above video, Kris Raney talks about some of the challenges of container visibility and outlines how Ixia CloudLens can solve them. I’m especially fond of the discussion that starts at 3:51 about how to monitor processes exchanging information in host-only networks. This is a huge challenge that I’ve seen with traditional monitoring systems. No room for agents and no external network traffic makes a container application look like a black hole.

The best part about having a containerized monitoring system is that it’s entirely portable from one platform to the next. Need to monitor your application while it’s being debugged internally? Slide CloudLens Private next to it and grab all the debugging performance data you need to fine tune. Ready to deploy to the world on AWS? CloudLens Public is how you make it happen! And the licensing model allows to you pay for what you use, not what you are guessing you’ll need. No stressing about buying enough monitoring capacity to keep tabs on everything should you app take off. And with the elastic scaling of CloudLens, if it does go viral you can keep up with all the new demand!

Bringing It All Together

Containers are simple until they aren’t. Monitoring is hard until it isn’t. When you combine the two you have the potential to make something hard when it shouldn’t be. Thankfully, companies like Ixia are doing their part to make container monitoring simple. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they handle the gradual move to containerized apps in the cloud and if the flexibility offered by CloudLens gives developers even more incentive to start there.

If you want to learn more about Ixia CloudLens, be sure to check out their site at https://www.ixiacom.com/products/cloudlens


About the author

Tom Hollingsworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a networking professional, blogger, and speaker on advanced technology topics. He is also an organizer for networking and wireless for Tech Field Day.  His blog can be found at https://networkingnerd.net/

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