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Data Clouds Part II: My Big Data Dashboard

Database monitoring used to be easy in the days before data clouds

In my previous blog, I wrote at length about the complexities of running a data cloud in production. This logical data set, spread across many nodes, requires a whole new set of tools and methodologies to run and maintain. Today we’ll look at one of the biggest challenges in managing a data cloud – monitoring.

Database monitoring used to be easy in the days before data clouds. Datasets were stored in a single large database, and there were hundreds of off-the-shelf products available to monitor the performance of that database. When problems occurred, one had simply to open up the monitoring tool and look at a set of graphs and metrics to diagnose the problem.

There are no off-the-shelf tools for monitoring a data cloud, however. There’s no easy way to get a comprehensive view of your entire data cloud, let alone diagnose problems and monitor performance. Database monitoring solutions simply don’t cut it in this kind of environment. So how do we monitor the performance of our data cloud? I’ll tell you what I did.

It just so happens I work at AppDynamics, one of the most powerful application monitoring tools on the market. We monitor all parts of your application including the data layer, with visibility into both Relational and NoSQL systems like Cassandra. With AppDynamics I was able to create a dashboard that gives me a single pane-of-glass view into the performance of my data cloud.

Big Data Dashboard

My Big Data Dashboard
This dashboard is now used in several departments at AppDynamics including Operations, QA, Performance and development teams to see how our data cloud is running. All key metrics about all of our replicas are graphed side by side on one screen. This is the dream of anyone running big data systems in production!

Of course, not all problems are system wide. More often than not you need to drill into one replica or replica set to find a problem. To do that, I simply double click on any part of my big data dashboard to focus on a single replica, change the time range, and add more metrics.

Data clouds are difficult to run, and there aren’t any database monitoring tools fit to monitor them yet. But instead of sitting around waiting for data monitoring tools to catch up with our needs, I’ve built my own Big Data Dashboard with monitoring tool designed for applications.

Of course the fun doesn’t stop here…I still need to find a way to set up alerts and do performance tuning for my data cloud. Stay tuned for more blogs in this series to see how I do it!

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