Information visualization of microservice architecture relations and system monitoring : A case study on the microservices of a digital rights management company - an observability perspective
Sammanfattning: 90% of the data that exists today has been created over the last two years only. Part of the data space is created and collected by machines, sending logs of internal measurements to be analyzed and used to evaluate service incidents. However, efficiently comprehending datasets requires more than just access to data, as Richard Hamming puts it; "The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers." A tool to simplify apprehension of complex datasets is information visualization, which works by transforming layers of information into a visual medium, enabling the human perception to quickly extract valuable information and recognise patterns. This was an experimental design-oriented research study, set out to explore if an information visualization of microservice architecture relations combined with system health data could help developers at a Swedish digital rights management company (DRMC) to find root cause incidents, increase observability and decision support, i.e. simplifying the incident handling process. To explore this, a prototype was developed and user tests consisting of a set of tasks as well as a semi-structured interview was executed by ten developers at DRMC. The results concluded that the proposed solution provided a welcomed overview of service health and dependencies but that it lacked the ability to effectively focus on certain services, essentially making it difficult to find root causes. Visualizations like this seems to be best suited for overview-, rather than focused, comprehension. Further research could be conducted on how to efficiently render large complex datasets while maintaining focus and how to account for external factors.
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