Blog Post

Testing the End-User Experience

February 24, 2016

Welcome back to another issue of the GroundBreaker, GroundWork’s newsletter for customers and partners. This month, we’re looking at the new ElasticStack and how its new features will improve performance and stability for GroundWork users. We also have an exciting announcement about OpenStack Summit. We’ll finish with a short and useful technical tip on end-user experience monitoring of web apps, using recorded javascript you can create in moments.

OpenStack Summit | Austin | April 25–29

We are thrilled to announce our sponsorship at OpenStack Summit in Austin where IT leaders, telco operators, cloud administrators, app developers and OpenStack contributors all come together to build the future of cloud computing. GroundWork’s team will participate in conference sessions and the marketplace expo. We’re even planning to give away a free subscription of our software with an industrial laptop. Come join us as techies take over the laid-back capital of Texas!

By the way, we had the chance to participate in Icinga Camp last week in San Francisco, and heard from several members of the Netways Icinga team about integrations with Graphite and Elasticsearch. We talked about Openstack Monitoring (one of our favorite subjects). Adobe shared details of their successful Icinga2 deployment, which we thought was eye-opening in terms of the potential benefits of using Icinga2 in GroundWork, which we are starting to do with our soon-to-be-released Icinga2 connector. We are looking forward to our next chance to showcase what it can do.

ElasticStack Increases Performance and Stability

Last week, one of our GroundWork engineers attended Elastic{On} where Elastic founders Steven Schuurman, CEO, and Shay Banon, CTO, talked about what users can expect with the upcoming 5.0 release. We’re all looking forward to the launch of the ElasticStack, formerly known as ELK, which includes Kibana, Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Beats. Here is the low-down:

Elasticsearch is improving stability by making DocValues the default format. They live on disk instead of in heap memory which allows you to work with quantities of field data that would normally be too large to fit into memory. Heap space can now be set to a smaller size, improving the speed of garbage collection and node stability. And they are built at index time, rather than search time, and now much faster to initialize. Elasticsearch also now works with Java Security Manager to protect the development process from external threats.

Kibana increases flexibility with a customizable dashboard including a new color picker, new naming matters with custom legends, field formatters for customized values, pluggable tile servers to add custom tile maps, and click-and-drag heat map capability. Kibana even brought back the popular “black theme.”

Logstash’s new pipeline architecture makes it faster and even more reliable. Parts of Logstash have been rewritten in java so developers can grok faster. GroundWork will be installing default templates at the Logstash level to improve data indexing.

And last—Beats has added several new features developers will love. Packetbeat combines network data with log data to gather network traffic metrics. Topbeat creates beautiful metrics from all your different servers. Filebeat quickly accomplishes file tailing to pick up and send data to other agents, Logstash or Elasticsearch. It will replace Logstash Forwarder for Linux machines. And Winlogbeat allows for shipping of native Windows logs to Elasticsearch and will replace nxlog for GroundWork’s users.

Getting More Monitoring Data from NetApp

We blogged this month about our NetApp monitoring capabilities with the GroundWork CloudHub. NetApp admins will appreciate the simplicity and power of the near-zero config monitoring, and the security of knowing your volume free spaces are getting checked regularly (along with your CPU fans).

Tech Tip: Testing the End User Experience

As our series of useful tech tips continues, we keep looking at new and useful ways to get after the most important parts of the monitoring puzzle. This month we are looking at ways to quickly get one of the most important parts of any web application monitoring into GroundWork with minimal hassle and maximum usefulness.

Monitoring the front end of web applications is arguably one of the most important things you can do. It’s also usually hard to set up properly in an integrated way, and using commercial web monitoring services like Gomez or Websense can get expensive over time. But what if there was an easy way to test simple uses of the web app, like logging in to a test account, or searching for a product? Well, there is. You can use Casperjs,, Phantomjs, and Ressurrectio scripts that you can record from your desktop in a few moments, and play them back periodically with plugins in GroundWork.

You can save the time to execute each step as performance data and graph it, and you can even save screenshots. No cost (it’s open source), and our tech tip this month takes the experimentation and mystery out of getting it going. If you are reading this over coffee in the morning, you should be able to have it working on your site by lunchtime.  Read the tech tip here.

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