Short interview with Alexander Weber from DataDog “Even a small container cluster can become unmanageable”
Classic monitoring solutions must inevitably reach their limits in increasingly complex IT structures, says Alexander Weber. The Regional Vice President Central Europe of DataDog explains what this means for modern infrastructures in an interview with Dev-Insider.
DevOps can lead to a very complex ecosystem of tools, making it more difficult to gain insights and insights, especially at the decision-making level.
Alexander Weber: “The DevOps model, which is now widely accepted, must be expanded in the area of security in order to break down this silo as well.“
Dev-Insider: Hi Alex, in your guest article “Container Problems with Security and Monitoring” you raise the question of security in modern infrastructures. For which infrastructures are classic monitoring approaches still suitable at all and where are they – or even those who have to keep track – excessively overwhelmed?
Alexander Weber: Independent, monolithic applications are still widely used, especially in slowly developing industries, so that the classical approaches have been able to survive to this day. However, as the pressure grows to deliver new values and to keep the company afloat in highly competitive markets, the complexity of the supporting software systems also increases, and the classic tools can no longer keep up.
First of all, they require a lot of manual work, which does not scale well. In addition, it is no longer just applications that are at risk, as attackers can now also attack the underlying infrastructures and delivery pipelines, for example. As a rule, classical tools focus only on one part of the system and cannot support modern architectures, where full observation of the stack is necessary for the successful operation of software systems, root cause analysis or threat evaluation.
With the switch to the cloud, the resources of the companies become even thinner, because the effort now has to be doubled to cover the entire landscape. Especially in the area of security, which has always been considered a special silo within an organization, the now widely accepted DevOps model must be expanded in order to dismantle this silo as well.
So we need DevSecOps. Modern tools need to take and implement this approach, correlate different data sources from all parts of the system, as well as provide threat detection (possibly with the help of AI) and analysis dashboards out-of-the-box so that teams can focus on creating new value.
Dev-Insider: At what level or size do you think it gets really confusing in a container cluster?
Weber: As with all technical questions, the answer is very simple: “It depends!“ Not every cluster has the same structure and organization, and many different containers can be used. Fortunately, container technologies with well-known best practices are already well established and enable very efficient solutions.
However, when it comes to monitoring, even a small cluster with only a handful of nodes can become unmanageable if a developer has to do a lot of manual work, such as executing many kubectl commands. An intelligent approach is to automate this process.
However, an inherent feature of DevOps is that everyone is responsible for ensuring that their microservice runs as expected, which also includes monitoring. This can lead to a very complex ecosystem of tools. Therefore, it becomes more difficult to gain insights, especially at the decision-making level. Although the data is available, it is difficult to bring it together and evaluate it.
To solve this problem, it is necessary to have a comprehensive monitoring tool that – even using autodiscovery – provides a unified view of all parts of a system. Ultimately, it must enable the team to work together, correlate their data, gain insights, and make business-critical decisions.
Dev insider: In microservice structures, a service or container can “pop up” anywhere at any time. How does the tracking of containers work exactly and what are the ways and means?
Weber: Container orchestration technologies such as Docker, Kubernetes or OpenShift expose their APIs so that monitoring tools can interact with them and capture various metrics in their platform. In the same way, we can use these APIs to discover new containers (and also other architectural elements). To make the tasks even easier for the teams, it is also possible to customize this process, for example by providing naming rules or automatically assigning tags for easier analysis later.
Dev Insider: Datadog is currently pursuing an expansion strategy in German-speaking countries. Is there even more potential here than in other markets?
Weber: The German-speaking, i.e. DACH region, offers great potential in Europe, which is why we have made it an important strategic priority area. We are growing rapidly worldwide, both in terms of the number of employees and sales, and this also applies to Europe and the German-speaking region.
Dev Insider: Who or what are the biggest drivers in the observability market?
Weber: Competitive pressure demands more and more digital services for end customers. These services must be very agile and adaptable and have high stability. This is where Datadog comes into play. In companies, we see developers as the biggest driver, because they naturally have a high tendency to use appropriate solutions. But the topic has also arrived in the top management by now.
Alexander Weber is Regional Vice President Central Europe at Datadog, the monitoring and security platform for cloud applications. Weber, who has almost 20 years of sales and management experience, is responsible for the operational business and growth of Datadog in the core regions of DACH, BeNeLux and Eastern Europe. Before joining Datadog at the end of 2021, Alexander Weber was employed by IT security provider Tanium as regional vice president for Germany. Prior to that, he was Director of Sales at ServiceNow. Other stations in his career include Juniper Networks, CA Technologies and Dell. In his new position at Datadog, Weber will report directly to Patrik Svanström, Vice President EMEA Sales.