Exploding Container Usage Behind Prometheus 2.0 Monitoring Update

The open source Prometheus project unveiled an updated version of its container-monitoring platform, touting improved performance and increased stability.

Updates in the latest version, dubbed Prometheus 2.0, include a more efficient time-series database storage format; improved handling of stale data from containers; and the ability to support full database snapshot backups.

Prometheus, which is housed in the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF), is designed to monitor services, including containers. It collects metrics from configured services at specific intervals, evaluates that data to established rules, produces results, and triggers an alarm if a specified rule is part of those results.

Specific to containers, Prometheus monitors their status, the requests flowing through them, and the internals of the applications running inside. The platform uses a query language to help aggregate those metrics into insight that can be used by developers.

Container monitoring is becoming more important as an increasing number of organizations are using containers to maximize their cloud investments. However, being able to monitor what is happening across thousands of often short-lived applications can be challenging.

In a blog post, CoreOS’ Fabian Reinartz, who is also on the Prometheus team, said the increase in container usage has started to strangle previous Prometheus versions. He explained that at a scale of hundreds to thousands, “it’s not uncommon to see millions of time series being tracked across a cluster.”

“Prometheus has a simple and robust operational model that our users quickly learn to love,” Reinartz wrote. “Yet, the infrastructure space did not stand still, and projects like Kubernetes and Mesos rapidly change how software is being deployed and managed. Monitored environments have become increasingly more dynamic.”

Reinartz said Prometheus 2.0 testing has shown CPU usage reduced by up to 40 percent and disk space usage reduced by up to 50 percent compared with the previous 1.8 release.

CoreOS includes Prometheus as part of its Tectonic Kubernetes platform. Others using the platform include Docker Inc., Ericsson, and Soundcloud, which was the original developer for the Prometheus platform before turning it over to the open source community.

The Prometheus project started in early 2015, and the first official 1.0 release was unveiled in July 2016. The launch of Prometheus 2.0 followed work on three alphas, six betas, and three release candidates.

“A modern monitoring toolkit is table-stakes for organizations as they move to the cloud native paradigm; otherwise they operate blindly,” said CNCF COO Chris Aniszczyk, adding Prometheus “addresses more storage and performance issues without sacrificing its powerful monitoring capabilities so many users have come to enjoy.”