Monitoring Docker with docker-scout

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Features Bullet_white Comments Comments

docker monitoring

When it comes to agent-based monitoring and Docker, you're typically choosing between two bad options: (1) install the agent and its dependencies directly on the host or (2) running an agent in every container.

  • Installing the agent on the host is bad: Docker is best when everything is containerized. It means your services will run as expected, anywhere, without dependencies. Why does monitoring get to break that rule?
  • Running an agent in every container is bad: lets say you have 30 containers on a host that need to be monitored. Do you really want 30 agents running (one in each container)? That's a considerable amount of overhead.

Enter docker-scout. docker-scout is the Scout monitoring agent distributed via a Docker image. It's zero-dependency Docker monitoring: just run our image and your host is monitored.

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Twilio for SMS

By Andre Bullet_white Comments Comments

Scout has long offered email-to-SMS alert delivery for free. Free is good, but there are a couple downsides:

  1. email-to-SMS doesn't work some places outside the US. Some foreign carriers don't enable it by default, and in some countries email-to-SMS just doesn't work well.
  2. with email-to-SMS, texts don't always come from the same number. This depends on the carrier and/or phone. It's annoying because your alerts don't appear in a single thread.

Given how critical Scout's alerts are, it was time to level-up our SMS deliverability.

Today we're offering Twilio integration for text notifications as an alternative to email-to-SMS. Details are here in the docs, but the gist is:

  • Twilio's super-reliable infrastructure delivers your texts
  • if you don't have a Twilio account already, one will be created for you if you enable the integration
  • Twilio bills you separately for texts sent from Scout

But, what about FREE?

Email-to-SMS is still available, and still free. Use whichever suits your needs - now you have the choice.

 

Understanding Linux CPU stats

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in HowTo Bullet_white Comments Comments

Your Linux server is running slow, so you follow standard procedure and run top. You see the CPU metrics:



But what do all of those 2-letter abbreviations mean?

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Announcing the scoutd public BETA

By Dave Bullet_white Posted in Features Bullet_white Comments Comments

We've made our new monitoring agent, scoutd, publicly available. This new agent brings new capabilities to Scout's monitoring service - the most visible being seamless realtime charts on your dashboards. So what's different from the traditional scout agent, and what's in store for scoutd's future?

History

Some History, What's New?

Until now, our agent has been written in Ruby and distributed as a RubyGem. You'd install the gem and create a crontab entry so that it would run from cron every minute. While this is a reliable and easy way to report your system metrics to us, we want to lay the groundwork for some exciting things we have planned that only an always-running daemon could provide. So how does scoutd compare to the RubyGem agent?

  • Installed as a system package

    scoutd is installed by your system's package manager (yum/apt/etc). We also have a one-line install/upgrade command that makes new installs and upgrades from the old agent super simple: Install steps

  • No more cron entries - scoutd runs as a daemon

    scoutd is started by your server at boot and runs continuously. This allows instant communication between your server and Scout and lets us do things like instant realtime charts.

  • Simple config file, standard locations

    scoutd is easily configured via /etc/scout/scoutd.yml:

    account_key: abcd
    hostname: db1.scout.dev
    environment: development
    roles: database
    

    Local plugins, account key, etc are now located in /var/lib/scoutd

  • Written in Go

    While scoutd is written in Go, it doesn't introduce any new dependencies as we build distro-specific binaries. Scoutd still requires Ruby to be installed on the server, but our goal is to eventually drop this so you'll have a dependency-free monitoring agent that's guaranteed to work. Pretty cool, huh?

Future

"The Future, Conan?"

Yes. The future, Andy.

The future of scoutd is full of good things. Some features that we are eyeing for scoutd in the future:

  • More platforms

    Windows, Solaris, FreeBSD

  • More "instantness"

    scoutd can already fire up instant realtime charts on demand. We'll be making other things instant, like plugin installs and plugin configuration updates.

  • Completely standalone

    scoutd will be able to report system metrics without needing Ruby or any other dependencies.

  • Multiple plugin languages

    Ability to write plugins in multiple languages. Ruby, Python, Javascript, etc.

  • External metrics

    Support for sending metrics to scoutd from the network, simple shell scripts, etc.

Our new scoutd agent is key in our effort to provide the best and most useful monitoring available.

MOAR

Want to Know More?

What's under the hood? What did we encounter while building scoutd? What's our build process? What's the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? Glad you asked. We'll dig deep into scoutd in the coming weeks and talk about the details of building scoutd for MOAR.

 

The year at Scout - 2014 edition

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Updates Bullet_white Comments Comments

2014 was a year of major updates to Scout. Some stats on what’s been a fun year:

infographic

Product Highlights

  • Scout Realtime - In January, we released our open-source standalone realtime monitoring agent. Scout Realtime was the second most popular repository on Github during its release week (trailing Popcorn - we'll take the runner-up spot behind free movie streaming).
  • New Server View UI - In February, we released our new d3-powered server view interface and introduced automatic process monitoring. We think there's no better single-page view of your server's health.
  • New Dashboards UI - July brought our new dashboards UI. From quick ad-hoc charts to a persistent display on an external monitor, we think there's no better way to view your key metrics than your new dashboards.
  • New API - in September we debuted our new RESTful API.
  • New Realtime Charts BETA - in December we announced our new realtime charts experience. Viewing every-second-updating charts has never been easier.

Blog Post Highlights

2015

Thanks for all of your support, feedback, and hard-earned money in 2014. Our mission of lightweight, non-enterprisey server monitoring continues next year.

 

From MySQL full-text search to Elasticsearch

By Derek Bullet_white Posted in Development Bullet_white Comments Comments

Migrating backend search technologies on a high-throughput production site is no easy task, but Vector Media Group was recently faced with this decision. With a popular client site struggling under the load of complex MySQL full-text search queries, they recently switched to Elasticsearch.

I spoke with Matt Weinberg to learn how the migration went. Was the switch to Elaticsearch worth the effort?

How did you handle search before Elasticsearch?

We created a custom search using MySQL queries and implemented it into our CMS for the project, ExpressionEngine.

What were the problems with this approach?

To support full-text search, we needed to use the MySQL MyISAM storage engine. This has major downsides, the primary one being full table locks: when a table is updated, no other changes to that table can be performed.

Our tables have considerable update activity, so this would result in sometimes-significant performance issues.

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