Observing Camunda Environments with IBM Instana Business Monitoring

Combining a process orchestration solution like Camunda with an observability solution like Instana can break down silos and help teams better understand their systems.
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Organizations today struggle to detect, identify and act on business operations incidents. The gap between business and IT continues to grow, leaving them unable to link IT outages to business impact.  SREs want to understand business impact in order to better prioritize their work, but don’t have a way of monitoring business KPIs. They struggle to link IT outages to business impacts because data is often siloed and knowledge is tribal.  It forces teams into a highly reactive mode because they only become aware of the business impact when it’s reported by the Business team.

Combining a process orchestration solution like Camunda with an observability solution like Instana can break down these silos and help teams better understand their systems and react faster.

What is IBM Instana?

IBM Instana democratizes observability by providing a solution that anyone across DevOps, SRE, Platform, ITOps, and Development can use to get the data they want with the context they need. Purpose-built for cloud native yet technology-agnostic, the platform automatically and continuously provides high fidelity data—one second granularity and end-to-end traces—with the context of logical and physical dependencies across mobile, web, applications, and infrastructure.

This approach provides immediate feedback on new, more frequent deployments, ensuring issues are identified before they become incidents, while configurable smart alerts further enable proactive performance management. How do the IT operators (ITOps) or site reliability engineers (SREs) understand the business context of what they see when they monitor Camunda with typical APM Observability tools?

The problem with traditional APM Observability tools

APM Observability tools specialize in leveraging traces, metrics and logs to help IT keep applications healthy and running. These tools typically understand a variety of technologies and can even automatically start monitoring them when an agent is deployed. But most APM Observability tools treat automation platforms like Camunda as whatever Java/JEE container they execute within. They fail to provide ITOps or SREs any business context in their normal day-to-day operations.

Combining IBM Instana and Camunda for a fuller picture

Now Instana Observability Business Monitoring from IBM can understand when it’s being used to monitor a Camunda environment and will automatically add business process context to IT traces that ITOps and SREs use for troubleshooting. There is also a business activity view where business processes can be viewed in the context of any IT issues that might be impacting them.

Instana-camunda-1

This improvement means that an SRE’s troubleshooting experience goes from seeing traces that only have IT calls like RESTful or database calls to an experience where Instana understands and adds the business process or activity that those calls are implementing.

Instana-camunda-2

Optionally, data from the executing activities can be captured along with the trace. Since Instana does not sample trace information, capturing these data can unlock use cases like understanding the true impact of an IT outage.

Camunda and IBM Instana in action

Imagine that Carlos is an SRE whose company is using Camunda. One day Carlos gets an alert from Camunda that one of the automated activities is stuck. Camunda shows an exception in its log indicating that an external task is failing. Carlos is used to troubleshooting the end-to-end automated processes orchestrated with Camunda in detail, but has limited visibility into the issue with the external task.

With Instana monitoring both Camunda and the endpoints implementing those external tasks, Carlos can find the business process or activity within Instana, Analyze all of the individual calls within the affected time period, and view the end-to-end trace for one of the failing ones. Instana can track calls made to the external endpoint and tell Carlos that there is a database call the external task depends on that is timing out. Now Carlos can focus on getting that database healthy and the activities back on track.  

Learn more

Learn more about how you can effectively use Camunda and Instana together in this on-demand webinar, “Real-Time Business Context for IT. Measure Yourself the Way the Business Measures You”

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