Containers are a flexible solution for enterprises that need to run applications in multiple environments and quickly move those applications, along with all their dependencies, across operating systems and clouds. But because containers are easy to create and move rapidly, they’re difficult to track. Development and IT teams need container monitoring solutions that locate new containers immediately and view performance data for the critical applications running within all enterprise containers.
Container environments that need to be monitored include Docker containers, the Kubernetes orchestration platform, and platforms like Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) and Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS). Container monitoring solutions help companies determine the specific location of problems within their container environments, so they can more quickly find a solution.
See below to learn all about top container monitoring tools and the features they offer enterprise development and IT teams:
Choosing the right container monitoring provider
- Top container monitoring providers
- Features of container monitoring
- Benefits of container monitoring
- Container monitoring use cases
- What to look for in container monitoring providers
Top container monitoring providers
Dynatrace maintains a topology of customers’ container environments, meaning that it tracks whether containers are spun up or down and discovers each container and the applications it is running. This keeps dev teams apprised of the current status of each container. Dynatrace also offers a solution for application topology discovery and application mapping, which helps enterprises view the interdependencies of their applications.
Dynatrace’s root-cause analysis is artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted, which automates it and reduces manual maintenance from dev and IT teams. The analysis of causal relationships allows the platform to pinpoint underlying issues for minor application problems. The software prioritizes problems based on their potential impact on customers.
Dynatrace OneAgent is a single agent for all containers that monitors the entire stack. It only needs to be installed once per host and monitors applications, servers, and all other technologies on the host, rather than being one of multiple agents on a host. OneAgent collects data from both the back end and the front end of applications, which provides better context for business information (BI) and application performance. OneAgent is also responsible for the application topology discovery process.
Dynatrace has technology partnerships with platforms like Kubernetes, Red Hat OpenShift, VMware Tanzu, and the three major cloud providers.
- Wide range of partnerships with major technology providers
- AI-assisted root-cause analysis
- OneAgent, which simplifies data collection and agent installation for customers
Also read: The Containerization Market
Datadog is an infrastructure observability platform that includes container monitoring with machine learning (ML)-based detection. It has automatic discovery for services when they begin running in a container. Datadog also detects when a container has been destroyed and provides detailed health information for containers, so dev teams can know each container’s deployment status and rate of resource consumption.
Datadog supports serverless container monitoring in AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. It also supports metrics monitoring for request and response error rates through dashboards on AWS Fargate and Google Cloud Run. Serverless monitoring makes locating bottlenecks in container environments easier.
The Datadog Cluster Agent collects data from the cluster level of a container environment. It can also run endpoint checks on devices that are external but connected to the Kubernetes platform, such as databases.
Watchdog uses machine learning to automatically detect anomalies and performance outliers, which can indicate potential threat actors or an issue within a container. Watchdog also includes automated root-cause analysis and uncovers relationships between problems within the entire Datadog platform, including but not limited to containers. Datadog locates the elements within a system that are directly connected to errors.
- Monitoring serverless containers in multiple environments
- Watchdog ML-assisted solution for the entire Datadog platform
- Cluster Agent for collecting data at the cluster level
Sysdig is a monitoring and security solution for containers, cloud, and Kubernetes environments. Sysdig’s cloud security posture management flags cloud misconfigurations and uses open community standards to check configuration security. For containers running in the cloud, Sysdig tests cloud environments for compliance with a number of regulatory standards, including GDPR, HIPAA, SOC2, and ISO-27001-2013.
Falco is an open-source run-time threat detection program designed for Kubernetes environments. Sysdig released Falco in 2016, and it detects risks and anomalies within clouds and intrusions based on data from Kubernetes audit logs and system calls.
Customers are able to implement microsegmentation with Kubernetes-native network policies. Rather than administrators imposing zero-trust policies atop Kubernetes, the containzeration platform enforces them itself. Users can audit all connection attempts between Kubernetes services and applications.
Customers can designate and authorize a Slack channel for Sysdig notifications and configure Sysdig alerts to message within Slack. This feature is useful for businesses that use Slack, especially for dev and IT teams that want to funnel container alerts into their company’s main collaboration platform.
- Kubernetes-native microsegmentation policies and visibility for all containerization traffic
- Slack integration
- Open-source run-time threat detection specifically for Kubernetes
Sumo Logic is a monitoring and analytics solution specifically for Docker environments. Users can view the top 10 containers based on both CPU consumption and average resident memory consumption; they can also see the top 10 containers ranked based on traffic sent and received. A dashboard of overall Docker container metrics is a useful overview for quick glances at the current state of an enterprise Docker environment and allows admins to note when a change occurs in one of the major containers.
Sumo Logic offers Docker analysis and troubleshooting, which features root-cause analysis for problems that come from Docker containers and container-based applications. The platform monitors Docker container logs and events in real-time. Users can view KPIs and data on resource consumption and design custom KPIs using Sumo Logic’s own query language.
Sumo Logic’s log management tools allow businesses to view exceptions to usual events and the time when a problem started. Sumo Logic uses machine learning to look at patterns within logs, which would take humans a long time to search, because the software uses so many logs to look for root causes. If Sumo Logic pulls code that is or isn’t relevant, users can mark it with a thumbs up or thumbs down to indicate whether that’s a likely root cause. Consider Sumo Logic if you’re looking for advanced log search functionality for application root-cause analysis.
- Focus on Docker container environments
- Machine learning for searching logs for the root cause of a problem within the Docker environment
- Custom KPI design features
Sematext is an IT system monitoring platform that includes container monitoring for multiple environments, including Docker, Kubernetes, AWS Elastic Container Services, and Google Kubernetes Engine. The Sematext agent runs as a lightweight container and gathers data about containers and their hosts. Sematext provides out-of-the-box dashboards for visualizing network errors, memory usage, and disk input and output. Consider Sematext if your organization uses multiple container orchestration platforms and needs to monitor different environments.
Sematext automatically discovers new containers and monitors the applications running within them. The top containers dashboard is populated with information about memory usage and current percentage of CPU. The main container monitoring dashboard provides data on container images, labels, and logs.
Sematext has built-in log parsing to keep logs structured and searchable. It collects logs and automatically gives them container labels by differentiators, like container name or image. It also allows users to set up alerts for container logs based on specific log events.
- Support for wide variety of container environments
- Out-of-the-box dashboards with monitoring data
- Log parsing, automatic labeling, and custom alerts for log events
Features of container monitoring
- Logged data about computing power (CPU) and storage (memory) utilization: If these drastically change, that can indicate a deeper change within the container, potentially leading to decreased performance.
- Overall observability: It’s important to be able to see host server data, container run time, containerized middleware, the control plane of the orchestration platform, and all applications running within a container, according to Aqua Security. Visibility into the container environment permits users to more quickly identify problems.
- Dashboards: Container monitoring dashboards are a place where multiple charts and reports are organized into one logical display of information about current container performance. These can be used simply to distill data for teams to better visualize how to improve container performance, or they can be presented to leadership in an organization.
Benefits of container monitoring
- Earlier detection of potential problems within containers: Specifically tailored solutions for detecting container threats and problems help enterprises solve problems before they develop further or become a bigger issue.
- Better understanding when to scale containers and pods: When administrators see application or container performance decreasing, they can know earlier when to increase numbers of containers and pods.
- Tracking rapid changes within a containerization environment: The ability to view all of those changes is critical for locating vulnerabilities and performance bottlenecks.
Container monitoring use cases
“We’ve instrumented Sysdig into our pipelines where it is executing container vulnerability and compliance checks on containers as they’re promoted into our production environment. Those automated checks allow us to move faster.” –Director of engineering at SAP Concur, review at Sysdig
“What enamored us with Dynatrace was that it gave us insight into things we didn’t even know we wanted to see. With other solutions, we had to know exactly what we wanted to see and then push and pull a load of buttons and levers to get the information out. Most other solutions are also blind to containerized environments and struggle to instrument Kubernetes and Red Hat OpenShift. Dynatrace was purpose-built for these environments, giving us instant answers and out-of-the-box value from day one.” –Jay Summerlot, IT director of Abercrombie & Fitch, in a Dynatrace case study
“Having all of our monitors and dashboards in one place makes it way easier to train people and have them look for things and know where to go. The interactive UI was huge for us to monitor health, because it can send us application specific metrics for each container.” –Jon Moter, principal engineer at Zendesk, Datadog case study
What to look for in container monitoring providers
Choose a solution that monitors all container environments supported by your organization. While some providers support multiple containers and orchestration platforms, others are limited to one or two vendors.
Choose a monitoring tool that integrates with key technologies your business uses. For example, if you run all of your containers in Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, you’ll need a container monitoring tool that doesn’t only support the big three cloud environments.
If your enterprise is new to containerization, choose a monitoring provider that will assist your team during the deployment and implementation phases. If your development and IT teams aren’t experienced with containers, ensure the monitoring provider gives adequate customer support based on your new users’ needs.
Want to increase your enterprise’s container environment security? Read Best Container Security Tools & Solutions next.