Containers are standard, executable units of software in which application code is packed with all the dependencies, libraries, and other necessary elements required for the code to run in any environment quickly and with ease. Containers package the application code with all the necessary dependencies required and can easily be distributed and deployed anywhere, eliminating the need for additional infrastructure requirements.

Container monitoring involves the process of continuously tracking the health, performance, and availability of your containers to ensure the smooth functioning of applications running on them. It enables you to keep a close eye on how your containers are functioning by monitoring various KPIs and instantly notifying you in case of anomalies, ensuring containerized applications and microservices environments run smoothly.

The need for container performance monitoring 

In this modern era of app development, having an intact, containerized infrastructure in place is crucial for businesses to ensure high availability and reliability for applications in the software development space. Since containers are lightweight and independent of system environments, packing and deploying applications into containers is the first choice for software enterprises to host their software products quickly in response to rapid market changes and critical updates. Any sort of performance degradation in the containerized environment can greatly impact application development and deployment, causing havoc for business operations worldwide.

While it’s true that maintaining a containerized environment is complex, keeping constant track of the performance of your containerized infrastructure can help you ensure your application deployments are functioning optimally and are able to satisfy service-level agreements. This involves constantly keeping an eye on the resource utilization metrics of your container applications along with metrics that are specific to the container platforms employed in your organization to ensure top-notch containerized application performance in real time. To achieve this, having a robust container monitoring solution in place is important.

Challenges in container monitoring 

Container Monitoring Challenges

As easy and convenient as it may appear for companies to migrate to containerized infrastructure, it equally gives rise to a multitude of management challenges. It’s not easy to monitor the performance of containerized applications when compared to VMs or bare-metal servers. Here are some of the unique challenges seen in container performance monitoring:

  • Temporary in nature: Since containers are ephemeral and short-lived, it’s complicated to monitor their critical, time-bound metrics and analyze the data before it disappears.

  • Complexity of instances: Identifying the containers that are causing performance issues gets challenging amidst the multitude of container instances running simultaneously.

  • Resource limitations: Sharing important system resources, like CPU, memory, or disk space, across multiple container hosts simultaneously makes it difficult to monitor physical hosts’ resource usage and can lead to unwanted performance hiccups.

  • Dynamic infrastructure: Tracking performance when container instances are distributed across your organization (such as in microservices architecture) for horizontal or vertical scaling complicates the process of monitoring further.

  • Multiple alerts: Addressing issues based on a huge number of alerts raised from multiple container resources can sometimes create unnecessary stress on admins, leading to missed critical issues.

To address these challenges, you need a monitoring solution that’s designed to handle the dynamic, distributed nature of containerized applications. While open-source tools, like cAdvisor, are useful for container metrics, they have limitations, such as short-term data storage and lack of advanced features and integrations. Depending on the complexity of your container environment, it’s better to use a third-party container monitoring system, such as ManageEngine Applications Manager.

Key performance metrics in container monitoring 

When it comes to monitoring containerized infrastructure, there are a multitude of metrics that need to be tracked, considering the complex and dynamic nature of these environments. Here are some key metrics that Applications Manager can monitor:

Health and availability 

Ensuring high availability for your container is a critical part of container performance monitoring. Since a multitude of containers can host multiple applications simultaneously in a containerized infrastructure, ensuring your container is up and running without any hassles is important for the smooth functioning of business operations.

Applications Manager makes it convenient for you to track the health and availability of your containers 24/7 and triggers instant notifications whenever there is any downtime or anomaly observed in your instance. This way, you can take immediate steps to isolate and resolve them before the problem becomes bigger.

Container monitoring - ManageEngine Applications Manager

Resource utilization statistics 

Since containers are platform-independent and can be deployed anywhere, resource allocation plays a major role in determining how many containers can be deployed into your host system. As containers share resources among themselves, keeping a close eye on the amount of resources allocated for each container is crucial in application deployment, failing which can impact the performance of the application code on that container.

You can get good visibility into the resource utilization of your container instances by tracking host-level metrics in real time. Applications Manager tracks the performance of CPU usage, memory usage, and disk usage and triggers spontaneous alerts whenever any resource metrics start displaying abnormal values. This way, you can troubleshoot the exact cause of the issue and make informed decisions on scaling up or scaling down resources for seamless container deployment.

Container performance monitoring - ManageEngine Applications ManagerContainer monitoring solution - ManageEngine Applications Manager

Network statistics

Network I/O is a crucial factor in tracking containerized applications, especially when the applications involve the use of the internet, such as databases, cloud services, or external APIs. These containers tend to communicate with various applications or user sessions and bring in network traffic from multiple sources, which might cause a surge in network traffic and put a heavy load on system resources, impacting overall container performance. Since multiple applications are deployed over various containers, examining the container’s network I/O becomes vital to distribute traffic among various containers accordingly and allocate system resources to ensure smooth application functioning.

Applications Manager simplifies this by constantly tracking the amount of data being sent and received by your containers over the network in real time. It analyzes your network performance by keeping an eye on key metrics, such as bytes received or transmitted and I/O reads or writes, and provides insights on the amount of network packets dropped while transmitting or receiving data. This enables you to get a clear picture of the amount of load your container host is processing to take appropriate steps in balancing incoming and outgoing traffic to reduce slow response times.

Container monitoring tools - ManageEngine Applications Manager

Container instance monitoring

A typical container infrastructure comprises of two major components—images and instances. While the container image defines everything (libraries, dependencies, and other infrastructure configurations) required for your applications and serves as the blueprint for creating containers, it’s the container instances that actually run your applications, which are created and launched using container images through a container engine.

Since a container’s infrastructure comprises a multitude of applications running on various container instances, monitoring container instances becomes essential since applications solely depend on them for proper functioning within the container infrastructure. Although the terminologies and concepts differ based on the type of container platforms employed, it goes without saying that you should keep a close eye on the performance of your container instances to ensure your containerized applications function properly.

Container monitoring tool - ManageEngine Applications ManagerContainer monitoring solutions - ManageEngine Applications Manager

Container monitoring tools like Applications Manager provide in-depth insights into the performance of your container instances and trigger instant, real-time notifications whenever any of your container instances are functioning abnormally and impacting application performance. Applications Manager tracks your container instance’s performance by constantly monitoring container KPIs, providing detailed stats on how each component of your container instances is functioning 24/7 to help you ensure optimum and efficient container performance overall.

Get started with Applications Manager for container monitoring

Applications Manager currently supports monitoring for Docker, OpenShift, and Kubernetes containers as well as managed Kubernetes services like Azure Kubernetes Service, AWS Elastic Kubernetes Service, and Google Kubernetes Engine. It also offers application performance monitoring, infrastructure monitoring, and end-user experience monitoring—all within a single console.

 To explore Applications Manager, start a 30-day, free trial or schedule a free, personalized demo with one of our specialists.