With the ascent of distributed architecture, modern software increasingly unwinds into networks of micro(-service) components. While this approach to building software - if done correctly - can improve a system's maintainability and scalability, distributed applications also introduce challanges for operations. Where monolithic applications typically offered direct access to extensive monitoring dashbords, such easy overview is no longer available when a multitude of services is connected loosly on a network. But how to keep track of a system of such dynamic state?
Distributed tracing is a method of connecting interaction of different services on a network. Collecting and processing such tracing information again allows for the observation of a distributed system in its entirety. This talk shares the presenter's insights gained by working on the JVM-support of distributed tracing for the APM tool Instana. Doing so, it introduces the landscape of distributed tracing on the JVM, discussing popular approaches such as Dapper, Zipkin or Brave/OpenTracing. In the process, it is discussed how byte code instrumentation can be used to capture systems without requiring a user to set up the software under observation. The presentation finishes with a discussion of typical problems of distributed tracing solutions and carefully examines the performance penalties APM tools entail.
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