Obvious fact alert: New Year’s Resolutions don’t work for anyone (this lifehack clickbait has five reasons why). They especially don’t work for companies because if the resolution was really that important you probably would have taken it on already. The January-specific orbital tilt of the earth won’t make you especially free to take new stuff on, and so you won’t.
Rather than pretending you’ll take do extra work (and beating yourself up because you didn’t achieve unachievable goals) it’s never the wrong time to take stock and see what you can eliminate. What’ll let you be more productive at work or even let you be home an extra hour each week?
You could be riding horses instead of fighting Grafana!
In the past six months we in Hosted Graphite have taken this to heart and started farming out small parts of our development stack. We’ve stopped trying to maintain our own continuous integration set up (that’s on CircleCI now). Instead of staying on a clunky chat workflow with IRC or an open source chat client, we’ve moved to Slack. These were hard decisions (we like open source!) but these changes allow us to stop building a production line and focus on building a product.
For most other tech companies, Graphite, Grafana, and StatsD are some of these awkward but vital tools. If you’re a small company and trying to justify the costs of Hosted Graphite, calculate how much developer time you spend maintaining your monitoring. Maybe it’s just a few hours a week (congratulations if it is), but even that adds up in a month. For Hosted Graphite the extra tooling that we’ve switched to costs us, for a company of 12, around €100 a month. However the pure value in hours saved and also just de-stressing and speeding up our workflow is worth vastly more than that €100 to us. Hell, the time savings can even pay for themselves directly in more time spent on sales if we want.
“Stop building a production line and focus on building a product”
As we get firmly into a new year we’re trying to figure out what parts of our stack need to be streamlined. It’s becoming less obvious for us as 2015 was a big year in streamlining our processes. We’re now working on speeding up our workflows around our user-facing documentation and our blog. A little bit of work on automation or moving to a different solution and the few minutes deployment for those becomes a few seconds. It’s not work done to save those few minutes, it’s because if a deploy is instant we’ll fix more errors in documentation and work more naturally. This allows us to be a faster moving company and our customers will enjoy better documentation and communication from us.
So this New Year don’t resolve to take on more work. Instead, think about what stress can be outsourced and allow yourself to become the fast moving company you always said you’d be.
Our AWS Cloudwatch metrics integration has been given a feature facelift – now you can add multiple AWS Cloudwatch accounts to your Hosted Graphite account and pull metrics from all of them!
Once your accounts are added you can also describe what data you want to pull – you have the option to retrieve only data marked with custom tags.
Google Auth and AzureAD
We’ve also added login via Google Auth and AzureAD – this allows your team to use their google authentication credentials to log in with all the benefits that that offers – two-factor auth and management within the Google or Azure portals.
We’re pleased to announce that we have upgraded to the latest version of Grafana (2.1).
Building upon the UI changes, new features and structural changes introduced in Grafana 2.0, Grafana 2.1 brings with it a number of small changes which will help you to get even more out of your dashboards.
Features such as multi-valued templates combined with repeating dashboard panels & rows, allows for more control over your data. You’ll also find that panels are more customisable and allow you greater control over how your graphs will look once rendered.
When we ask our customers what they use to track the uptime (or more importantly downtime) of their sites, Pingdom is typically the answer. As part of an integrated monitoring philosophy, it’s essential that your internal monitoring process can also relate to external checks – combining multiple sources of information gives you a clear picture of your users’ experience.
If you like metrics (and we do!) StatsD is a fantastic way to get a wide variety of statistical views of your data, as well as providing the very useful ability to sample your data instead of firing giant streams out over the intertubes. It’s also got wide language support and there are dozens of client libraries to help you get started quickly.
One complaint we hear when running our Hosted StatsD service is that StatsD is a little bit too noisy. If you’re sending a wide range of metrics, the full set of StatsD data views (your percentile data, minimums, maximums etc) ends up producing eight times more metrics than if you just sent plain metric data. Couple that with the fact that Hosted Graphite already captures all of these views for every metric sent and you’re basically just eating up metrics that you probably don’t need.
To help with this, we’ve just added filtering for data sent to Hosted StatsD – you can keep the views you want and we won’t store the ones you don’t need.
There’s a simple check-box setup:
This gives you all the flexibility of StatsD, without the extra noise.
We’re pleased to announce our Annotations feature.
Annotations allow you to record intermittent happenings in your infrastructure – for example deploying a new build to your servers, marking when that long-running reporting task completes, or flagging that nasty outage you just fixed (I hope you don’t need to use that one).
We’ll be following this up with integrations with all your favourite continuous integration tools, but if you’ve got some personal favourite tool you want to make sure is included just drop us a line.