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HomeArchitectureHow to Choose the Right Distributed Tracing Tools for Your Application

How to Choose the Right Distributed Tracing Tools for Your Application

Mysteries are often the source of intrigue and excitement. But just not when you encounter mysteries around your IT systems. Here, you experience frustration, anxiety, and operational headaches. Although undesirable, software applications are often plagued with performance glitches, unexplained errors, or sudden slowdowns, affecting the productivity and stability of business-critical systems. Tackling these challenges is usually manageable. It gets tricky when your IT systems, software, and people are spread out across different locations. Due to the distributed nature of the microservices architecture, your monitoring efforts are siloed. It needs to give you a comprehensive picture of your IT system to implement a robust strategy to manage performance. This is where dynamic tracing helps.

Distributed tracing is the diagnostic process of tracking every request an application receives from frontend devices to access backend services and databases. Developers use this potent strategy to investigate requests characterized by high latency or errors.

Role of Distributed Tracing in Microservices Architecture

Modern digital organizations rely on microservices-based architecture for their applications. When initiating an external request, it traverses various distributed system components, creating a convoluted pathway between frontend devices and backend services. Distributed tracing allows you to monitor and analyze the journey of every request through interconnected services to identify errors or bottlenecks crippling performance.

Distributed tracing works by assigning every request a unique identifier called trace ID. Each component loads the ID with information such as timestamps, duration, and relevant metadata, providing a comprehensive view of the complete flow of transactions. Developers rely significantly on distributed tracing tools to understand these traces so that patterns are uncovered to highlight areas that must be optimized proactively.

Given the significance of distributed tracing tools, the market is flooded with several solutions. However, companies that want to leverage these tools to improve their application performance grades find it challenging to select the right platform. In this article, we will share the top distributed tracing solutions and the reasons for improving them. We also discuss the factors you must consider when choosing the right tool for your software ecosystem.

Top distributed tracing tools

Jaeger:

Jaeger is an open-source APM (Application Monitoring) tool that allows you to manage an end-to-end distributed tracing strategy. It was built by Uber, who then handed it over to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).

Companies that need an open-source tool that is scalable can go with Jaeger. It can also be customized for specific business use cases.

Key Features:

  • Enables distributed context propagation and transaction monitoring
  • Facilitates root cause analysis for performance optimization
  • Analyzes dependency on multiple services

Advantages:

  • Ideal for large-scale microservices architectures
  • Active community support and continuous development
  • Greatly flexible and customizable

Zipkin:

Zipkin is a lightweight, open-source distributed tracing system that empowers organizations to tackle latency issues through a user-friendly web interface, enhancing overall troubleshooting capabilities.

Key Features:

  • Open-source & lightweight application
  • Supports different languages and frameworks
  • Integrates with various storage backends
  • Provides a user-friendly web interface

Advantages:

  • Strong community support that actively strengthens the tool
  • Streamlines latency or performance issues by designing a dependency diagram

Datadog APM:

Datadog APM is a modern SaaS APM solution that helps companies get complete visibility into applications with a powerful dashboard. 

Key Features:

  • It is a part of the unified Datadog ecosystem
  • Shares code-level information for root cause analysis
  • Provides integration with logs and infrastructure metrics, capturing 100% of traces

Advantages:

  • It captures 100% of the traces
  • Supports multiple languages and frameworks

AppDynamics:

AppDynamics is an AI-based APM solution that empowers organizations to improve software performance and visibility in the multi-cloud IT setup. 

Key Features:

  • It integrates AI capabilities to enhance performance monitoring
  • It automates the discovery of application topology
  • It gives you deeper visibility of your application at code level

Advantages:

  • Comprehensive application performance monitoring.
  • Suitable for enterprises with complex, business-critical applications.

Choosing the ideal distributed tracing tool

When shopping for a distributed tracing tool in the market, consider the factors below and evaluate the tools for their capabilities.

Make a note of your requirements

List down the objectives and business goals you want to achieve through distributed tracing. It will allow you to identify critical challenges troubling your application and IT operations.

Understand the architecture of your application

Get a clear understanding of how complex or intricate your architecture is in terms of interconnected services along with technologies and frameworks used.

Evaluate the compatibility of your language & framework

Not all distributed tracing tools extend support to every language and framework. Therefore, you must evaluate every tool based on how seamlessly it will integrate with your software setup.

Consider the interoperability of your infrastructure

Evaluate the ease of integration with your existing infrastructure. A tool that seamlessly integrates with your technology stack will reduce implementation complexity.

Understand the scalability of the tool

Your distributed tracing tool should be able to accommodate the volume of requests that hit your applications through high scalability.

Evaluate the application performance

Distributed tracing tools must empower you to improve your application performance and not become a performance roadblock itself. Therefore, pick a tool that minimizes operational overhead.

Investigate visualization and analysis capabilities

Your team shouldn’t spend hours crunching data to identify performance issues. The distributed tracing tool should offer insights into your application setup through visualizations and attractive analysis charts so that you can expedite troubleshooting.

Evaluate real-time monitoring features

The tool must facilitate proactive identification and remediation of issues before any lasting damage is done. This is only possible when your selected solution offers real-time monitoring capabilities.

Factor in community support:

Any solution is only as robust as its community, which shares crucial resources, support, and updates, guiding you through any roadblocks you may face.

Distributed tracing is critical for application performance

The distributed architecture of microservices-based applications needs a robust tracing tool that follows every external request through different services for efficient monitoring. The importance of distributed tracing tools and platforms is only growing with organizations rapidly adopting microservices approach. Each distributed tracing tool in the market is different and presents unique capabilities. We hope the article helps you pick the best one that suits your IT setup.

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