Instana Blog

Date: August 14, 2019

Instana Pipeline Feedback™

Instana Pipeline Feedback is the first automatic analysis of application development and deployment pipeline events, correlated directly with application, infrastructure and service performance data.

What Value Does it Provide?

Instana is building visibility into the whole development and deployment pipeline, and the relationship between the code cycle and quality. The new Pipeline Feedback capability gives DevOps practitioners immediate understanding of the impact, positive or negative, that a new release has on the services.

How is it Different than Not Using it?

Validating the quality of a release must be done by hand. Correlating the exact moment a new release is live, with the data coming from various logging and monitoring solutions can be time consuming. With Instana, all quality analysis, metric data and time information is automatically presented on the service dashboard.

Marking and Tracking Software Releases

In modern software development organizations, releases are considered the point in time at which new features or bug fixes become available in production. Instana has recognized the importance of managing these events and the implications they have for both developers and operators. With the release of our new feature, Pipeline Feedback, users of Instana will now be able to easily visualize, identify and correlate issues that may occur when those releases become available to their users.

With the first release of Pipeline Feedback we introduce the Release Markers capability. A Release Marker represents a single release, whereas “releases” means a defined moment in time that a change which has occurred to code, infrastructure or architecture becomes generally available. The feature is driven by our new API that allows the DevOps team to indicate to Instana the moment of the change. For example, many organizations make multiple features and bug fixes generally available as releases on a bi-weekly or monthly cadence. Release Markers of Instana’s Pipeline Feedback visualize the time of a release.

Instana Pipeline Feedback Release NotificationFurthermore, the time of release is correlated with other events and issues, to provide immediate visibility of problems or improvements that have risen from a release. This ability to get immediate feedback from release behavior changes is critical to prevent SLOs and SLAs from being breached. To provide DevOps teams with this immediate feedback, Instana has a new notification type, which is shown immediately after a new release ingested.

In addition to the Pipeline Feedback Dashboard functionality, we also provide the Instana Pipeline Feedback Integration for Jenkins, a Jenkins plugin to ingest data about releases into the Instana backend. Through the use of an API call or utilizing the Jenkins plugin, users of Instana will now be able to visualize a release as an annotation on every graph in their environment as shown in the screenshot below. This marker serves as a reference point to quickly spot regressions or improvements in the performance of their applications.

Instana Pipeline Feedback Release Marker in Dashboard ViewFigure 1: Instana’s Pipeline Feedback in the Dashboard View

We’ve also added the ability to search releases and jump to specific recent releases in the timeline with an addition to our time picker. This makes it convenient for our users who are interested in seeing the performance implications of a release at any given time within a specific graph, whether it be an Application Perspective, Service Trace Aggregates, or Infrastructure Metrics view.

Instana Pipeline Feedback Release SelectorFigure 2: Instana’s Pipeline Feedback Release Selector in the Timerange Selector

Post-Release Health Comparisons

Using another feature of the Pipeline Feedback is the Release Health Indicator, which offers an easy insight into whether a release has positive or negative effects on the systems health. To quantify the systems health, Instana automatically correlates issues in Incidents. The Release Health Indicator bar, positioned in the Incidents view, provides an immediate visibility with easily understand the system health percentage values before and after a release.

Instana Pipeline Feedback in Incidents ViewFigure 3: Instana’s Pipeline Feedback with Release Markers in the Incidents View (Preview)

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About Instana

As the leading provider of Automatic Application Performance Monitoring (APM) solutions for microservices, Instana has developed the automatic monitoring and AI-based analysis DevOps needs to manage the performance of modern applications. Instana is the only APM solution that automatically discovers, maps and visualizes microservice applications without continuous additional engineering. Customers using Instana achieve operational excellence and deliver better software faster. Visit https://instana.com to learn more.