Best DevOps Practices: How We Improved Monitoring for the Client Project

2 min read

A practical case of using cloud monitoring in DevOps as a service.

In this blog post, we will explore how we applied the best DevOps practices, improved the monitoring system for the healthcare project, and increased the user count from ~5 to ~50. The monitoring tool we used aggregates metrics across the stack and offers more data access transparency. 

Some of our previous posts provided insights into how the properly arranged monitoring system benefits the development process. This time, we’ll focus on a specific example as a practical use case for an infrastructure monitoring platform on the project with ambitious goals. 

Background

Our client is a technology company that aims to disrupt the digital healthcare experience. Our team accompanies the client throughout its evolution from a startup to a unicorn. Since we offer HIPAA-certified development services, we meet the high requirements of our clients in part of enhanced security and protection of patients’ data. 

The healthcare project handles extensive infrastructure with multiple substances subject to permanent monitoring. 

The monitoring system employed for the project could not satisfy its technological and financial needs. Setting up a proper monitoring system is part of the best DevOps practices. We describe changes our DevOps team undertook to address the project’s infrastructure issues. 

 

Problem that prevented following the best DevOps practices

The project used New Relic to monitor both backend and client applications. However, New Relic’s billing system was very far from being cost-effective. In other words, its ROI was not high. Every new developer subscribed to the system would add to the price. Those expenses totaled significantly, and no considerations could justify paying this hefty bill.

As a result, only five team members could use the New Relic system on a full basis, and, sadly, this circle never included a single developer. It meant that a limited number of people could access charts and reports and make data-driven decisions.

At first glance, the problem could be solved by providing people in charge with temporary access to the data system. However, the unfamiliar and tangled interface of the monitoring system in use handicapped the monitoring process. The negative effect of the limited access to the fully transparent monitoring system led to technical and financial problems. The application performance monitoring culture degraded, and the apps’ efficiency tracking deteriorated.  

The access above restrictions affected developers’ use of New Relic; therefore, the monitoring system’s ROI was not high.  

Solution: switching to Datadog

best devops practices

About the service provider

Datadog is a cloud-based monitoring and analytics platform that provides comprehensive visibility into the performance of applications, infrastructure, and networks. Organizations widely use it to monitor their IT infrastructure, troubleshoot issues, and optimize performance.

We analyzed existing monitoring solutions that could appropriately cater to the project’s needs. The solution was to switch to a new monitoring platform — Datadog. Our main goal was to increase the engagement of developers in the monitoring processes and adhere to the best DevOps practices. At the same time, we assumed that fewer “out of the box” monitoring functions would be available with the new solution, but that was an acceptable tradeoff.

As mentioned, the project deals with patients’ sensitive personal data. We carefully selected the hosting provider so it would not be a regular shared hosting or a common platform like WS, K8S, or Heroku. Aptible’s rigorous data security policy was why we chose the provider. 

Best DevOps Practices

About the hosting provider

Aptible is a platform that provides solutions for deploying, managing, and scaling infrastructure and applications securely and competently. Aptible primarily focuses on serving businesses in regulated industries, such as healthcare, finance, and others, with strict data security and compliance requirements.  

It took our team 3 months to entirely switch the monitoring system to the new Datadog platform. Due to some peculiarities of the Aptible system, we employed open-source OpenTelemetry instrumentation to gather observability data. 

We are finalizing our Datadog set-up to develop a comprehensive data-tracking solution. Although the transformation took significant time and resources, it has already enhanced the monitoring process and empowered more developers to access critical metrics and logs. 

Impact of switching to Datadog

We can summarize the results of our decision to switch to Datadog as follows:

“…the bill remained the same, and we increased our user count from ~5 to ~50″. 

Having managed to keep the cost on the same level as before, we increased the user throughput ten times (for clarity: we mean the number of monitoring system users).

As a result, we optimized the delivery process by involving DevOps specialists in the monitoring phase, leading to improved transparency. This led to enhanced transparency and quicker response times from specialists when dealing with incidents.

 

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