Instana U

 View Only

Application Perspectives – Personalizing the APM Experience

By Mike Mallo posted Mon August 06, 2018 12:00 AM


Application Perspectives – Personalizing the APM Experience

The content on this page was originally published on and has been migrated to the community as a historical asset. As such, it may contain outdated information on our products and features. Please comment if you have questions about the content. 

Instana was built upon the idea that modern software delivery requires automatic, high fidelity monitoring that provides value to every stakeholder. Our latest release includes several new personalization and collaboration capabilities never seen before in the world of infrastructure and application monitoring:

  • Enables users to quickly and easily create tailored views of their monitoring data
  • Provides a guided troubleshooting experience
  • Extends the reach of monitoring data to all stakeholders across the application delivery organization

We call this new set of capabilities Application Perspectives and it’s available on the Instana SaaS platform today.

With Application Perspectives, each DevOps team member gets the exact visualizations and information they need to optimize the applications and services they’re responsible for. With a simple UI driven configuration, users get a series of curated dashboards that visualize and analyze all related services and infrastructure. These aren’t “custom dashboards” that get stale or outdated – they’re visualizations based on the custom personalization – and they’re automatically updated by Instana.

The Need for Application Perspectives

Back in the days of 3-Tier applications, the definition of an “application” was easy to understand and completely static. There were very few components of the application as a whole and those components rarely changed. You could define the components of an application into the monitoring agent configuration files and it would be accurate until you decommissioned the entire application. But with the advent of Service Oriented Architectures (SOA), the shift to microservices, the highly dynamic nature of cloud computing, and the myriad of roles and responsibilities related to DevOps, the idea of an “application” has significantly changed:

  • A single microservice or a group of microservices might be an “application” to a Developer or DevOps Engineer
  • A single microservice could be a critical shared component of many different “applications”
  • Test, staging, and production versions of the same app are typically treated as separate “applications” from a monitoring perspective

As you can see from the basic examples listed above, the term “application” is different and relative to each unique stakeholders perspective. At Instana, we realized that modern monitoring tools MUST reflect the varied perspectives across the new application delivery organization so we set out to build the technology that will forever change the application monitoring industry.

Innovation Through Engineering and Collaboration

“Application Perspectives” is the culmination of many new technologies, developed over thousands of engineering hours, in collaboration with our largest customers. We added to, and redesigned our backend storage components. We modified the way we stream data into our platform. We created a multitude of new UI screens, charts, and widgets. Then we designed a novel way to define and present specific “Perspectives” in an easy, ad-hoc and immediate way such that any user can visualize precisely what matters to them. Essentially, we have personalized the APM experience.

New Instana Capabilities with Application Perspectives

Application Perspectives – I already mentioned that it’s easy to set up new application perspectives but just how easy is it really? The process is simple:

  1. Click “Add new application perspective”
  2. Fill in the “Name” field
  3. Use the selector tool to define key/value pairs

That’s all there is to it. You can define as many application perspectives as needed, any time you want, with whatever components make sense for your needs.

Services View
– Instana provides automatic, high fidelity monitoring of all of your services but in the past we’ve never shown you the health and performance of all these services in a single, sortable table. With this release we’re happy to announce the addition of the Service View. With this single screen you will see every service, type, technology, # of application perspectives, # of endpoints, calls, latency, errors, and health status. You can sort the table to bring the worst offenders to the top. The services view is available for the entire monitored environment or within an Application Perspective to ensure you’re focused on what matters.


Automatic Service Endpoints
– Anyone who is responsible for a service will love this new functionality. Before this release, Instana would automatically discover and monitor your services but if you wanted to see your endpoint definitions you had to do some additional work. In our latest release, we have automated this process so we now discover and monitor your endpoints automatically. This is a huge time saver and it improves the granularity of monitoring to the level required to achieve a full understanding of your running services.

Automatic Flow Maps for Services and Endpoints
– Visualizing the services and endpoints that you are responsible for is an important part of achieving full understanding. The original Instana Application Map is still available but we have added new maps that appear when you create an Application Perspective. These maps show the focal service or endpoint in the center of the map with any dependent services or endpoints appearing as inputs or outputs. These maps are color coded based upon Latency, Calls, or Errors.

Automatic Infrastructure Correlation
– Instana has always excelled at correlation and dependency mapping within and between components. In our latest release, it’s simple to see exactly what infrastructure components are related to the services within each Application Perspective. You’ll have an exact mapping in tabular form so you can see the correlated hosts, processes, and containers. This is a significant time saving feature.


Error Message Analysis – When services throw errors it’s critical to understand the deviation in error rate from normal, what services/requests were impacted, and which error messages are thrown most frequently. Instana has created an Error Messages analysis screen where you will quickly discover the errors that are causing service disruption so that you can fix the problems as quickly as possible. There’s no need to hunt through multiple screens looking for the answers, all of the data is available on a single screen and sorted appropriately to make it easy to find the most pressing errors.


Performance Analysis
– The “Performance” screen is contextually driven and will show different information based upon what type of service is currently in focus. At the top of this screen you will always see a Latency Heatmap which is is used to quickly identify any calls that are performing poorly. The rest of the information on this screen changes based upon what type of service is in focus. For example, if you are focused on a database service you will see the top queries. If you are focused on an HTTP service you will see a chart of the HTTP response codes over time. The performance screen is the ideal place to look for optimization opportunities within your Application Perspective.

Application Perspectives – Available Today

Instana’s new Application Perspective capabilities enable the ultimate flexibility for every user to monitor their applications in the way that’s most important to them. Each Application Perspective comes with it’s own series of curated dashboards that never get stale or go out of date since Instana dynamically updates them to include all matching components. It’s easier than ever for all stakeholders in your organization to gain valuable insights into your critical applications. You can start using Application Perspectives today.