Quick Look at Application Availability Monitoring using free IBM Cloud Service

I recently wrote about web application availability monitoring using Microsoft Azure and Application Insights.  You can read all about that here. Spoiler alert - Microsoft's offering is pretty impressive 😀.

Not wanting to favour one vendor over another, I figured I'd have a quick look at the IBM equivalent.  IBM's cloud has recently been rebadged. What was previously known as Softlayer and/or Bluemix is now officially named IBM Cloud.

IBM Cloud has a freemium model where some services - the ones deemed "lite" - are free.  Luckily, their Application Availability monitoring service falls into this bucket so that allowed me to have a go and road test the solution. Let's take a look...

IBM Cloud - Application Availability Monitoring

It was relatively simple to get things going, although there seem to have been a couple of quirks and hiccups.  Nevertheless, the following five high level steps will get you going:

  1. Sign up for an IBM Cloud account - the free one will do
  2. From the Catalogue, create a new basic/free CloudFoundry app - seems that availability monitoring can only be connected to a CloudFoundry app on the IBM Cloud
  3. From the Catalogue under the DevOps heading, create a new Availability Monitoring service - connect this to your CloudFoundry app
  4. Create and configure a new synthetic test - these can be for web pages or APIs, single action or multistep tests; pick the worldwide locations from where to run the test, frequency, and response validation rules
  5. Voila, wait for the tests to run and you will start to get response times and success/failure alerts

The visualisations and views are not bad out of the box, although navigation takes a little getting used to.  Following are some screenshots to give you a bit of an idea what you can expect:

The Verdict

In Summary, this is a decent service, and the synthetic multi step tests to mimic an end user transaction are handy.  The test has to be written in Selenium and uploaded to the IBM Cloud as far as I understand.

The screens seem to not always render and refresh reliably, but that could just be an issue with my browser.  My basic free CloudFoundry .NET app seems to be crashing regularly, but I suspect that I have not given it enough memory to run.

If you are an existing IBM customer who is already in the IBM ecosystem, this new capability is worth exploring.  The ability to drill down on the synthetic transaction results and get a waterfall type view of step timings is neat.

One drawback is that this service does not run independently from IBM Cloud hosted apps.  In other words, you cannot use it to monitor just any website, unlike the Microsoft flavour. Unless I have missed something?

Ultimately, try it and see if it's right for you.  It may be worth your time exploring this one. Enjoy.



IBM Cloud

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