Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Java Authors: Elizabeth White, Esmeralda Swartz, Mike Kavis, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Java, XML, MICROSERVICES, Open Source, Cloud Expo, Apache

Java: Article

Tracing Black Boxes II: Monitoring Solr

Providing insight into Apache Solr instances by correlating individual traces with JMX metrics

Your site is indexed on Google, but that doesn't mean you're done with search. Content-rich websites provide native search functionality to keep users engaged, maintain visual consistency, and provide content-aware filtering. But it's very hard to implement an effective, scalable search system, which is why Apache Solr is just about the most popular ‘black box' in web application infrastructure. This Lucene-backed search appliance has seen wide adoption due to its performance, reliability, and ease of deployment. In fact, it's become so widely used that many Solr deployments are managed by people who have no other exposure to running Java applications. Documents go in, indexed RESTful search comes out - that is, until something breaks.

TraceView can provide insight into Apache Solr instances by correlating individual traces with JMX metrics, such as the rate of requests over the past 5 minutes. Even at a very low overall volume, an increased traffic rate is already increasing request latency.

TraceView can provide insight into Apache Solr instances by correlating individual traces with JMX metrics, such as the rate of requests over the past 5 minutes. Even at a very low overall volume, an increased traffic rate is already increasing request latency.

Unlike most web application front-ends, Solr is a complex, stateful application that contains persistent objects, runs background indexing processes, and maintains multiple tiers of caches. There are a lot of ways to deploy and configure Solr, and that means there are a lot of ways to make mistakes. But even when you have everything up and running, there's always the lingering question of whether you could be getting more out of your Solr instances (or reducing the number of them!).

One of the best ways to get insight into Solr's internal abstractions - such as cores, handlers, and components - is to monitor them directly via JMX. I've previously written about using JMX metrics to keep tabs on JVM memory internals, but JMX is a common API for collecting data from your Java applications and any application can make use of it. Because of this it's been widely adopted in the Java ecosystem to centralize the provision of application-specific performance data.

Solr provides JMX metrics on a variety of internals, such as queryResultCache.

 

Solr provides JMX metrics on a variety of internals, such as queryResultCache.

 

Solr exposes hundreds of JMX metrics across dozens of categories, and efficient use of them can help you delve into Solr performance in a variety of ways. Some metrics are better for providing a high-level view of Solr's overall workflow. The queryResultCachecategory, pictured above, provides a snapshot of how often your data was successfully cached, as well as how often cache entries had to be evicted due to insufficient space. Other metric categories are more granular and provide detail at the level of classes, or even objects. An update request will be routed to a different handler depending on whether the data was provided in XML, CSV, or JSON; each of these update handlers exposes metrics independently, like how long it has been running and the number of errors.

JMX metrics can even provide insight into advanced Solr use cases, like modifying result scoring to permit n-dimensional spatial searches or customizing results based on user data stored in Redis. Even without adding custom JMX metrics, Solr will report enough data to allow you to separately track the effectiveness of these custom searches relative to more traditional queries.

Let's look at a practical example. You just got paged because half of your distributed Solr cluster lost connectivity in a widespread EC2 outage. It looks like it might last a while, so you decide to add additional capacity in one of the functioning availability zones. Rather than spending time re-indexing your content, you decide to replicate your existing Solr data to the new servers. Using the high-level metrics provided byReplicationHandler, you determine that replication is proceeding smoothly. Halfway through your second replication, though, you realize that the first replicated server is taking five times as long as your original servers to respond to the same user queries, even though it's running on the same hardware. Checking out the cache metrics for a specific search handler, it looks like the hit ratios on its caches are abysmal - but wait, what's actually in those caches? After checking the metrics for that node's active Searcher instance, you realize you didn't set up Solr to warm the cache - it was starting off empty! Now you know to make a quick configuration change next time you spin up an instance so that the first users routed to it will have acceptable performance.

So, that sounds awesome - but how do you do it? The easiest approach is to view Solr's JMX statistics through its web interface (in Solr 3.x,
it's at /solr/admin/stats.jsp, while in Solr 4.x it's available at a collection-based URL like /solr/#/collection1/plugins/). However, web access won't be an option for most deployments. Alternately, you could use remote jconsole, but that requires either a complex remote configuration that's a tremendous hassle to set up or the glacially slow option of SSH X11 forwarding (e.g., ssh -X solr jconsole).

In practice, those approaches all suck. Solr is stunningly verbose: it exposes hundreds of JMX metrics out of the box, and that number expands quickly as you add additional handlers and components. Purpose-built JMX monitoring tools like jconsole are great for browsing the available metrics to see what's available, but they're horrible for pulling out the ones you want in a hurry. They also allow ‘write' operations like initiating garbage collection or clearing caches - definitely not something you want to give out to every developer!

TraceView automatically monitors the JMX metrics of every node involved in this distributed Solr Cloud trace.

 

TraceView automatically monitors the JMX metrics of every node involved in this distributed Solr Cloud trace.

On a day to day basis, it's more common to read JMX metrics via automated, ‘read-only' monitoring tools like NagiosGanglia, or AppNeta TraceView. These tools not only present a number of metrics at once, but they also generally let you filter down to a meaningful subset of the hundreds of lines exposed by Solr. On the other hand, "health check"-style metrics aren't necessarily the only way to look the problem. Each request has a number of metrics it can generate, and bringing together these data sources in one application has some real advantages. Looking at an individual request can tell you exactly what went wrong, it's often the context of JMX data that says why. Examining the concurrent host activity can disambiguate between whether a pause was due to a garbage collection event in the JVM or an overloaded document cache in Solr forcing additional disk access.

Next time, we'll talk about how TraceView captures these request-based metrics directly from the Solr internals. In the meantime, if you've got a Solr installation, sign up for your free account, put in on that server, and take a look inside that black box!

More Stories By James Meickle

James started as a hobbyist web developer, even though his academic background is in social psychology and political science. Lately his interests as a professional Drupal developer have migrated towards performance, security, and automation. His favorite languages is Python, his favorite editor is Sublime, and his favorite game is Dwarf Fortress.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Wearable technology was dominant at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) , and MWC was no exception to this trend. New versions of favorites, such as the Samsung Gear (three new products were released: the Gear 2, the Gear 2 Neo and the Gear Fit), shared the limelight with new wearables like Pebble Time Steel (the new premium version of the company’s previously released smartwatch) and the LG Watch Urbane. The most dramatic difference at MWC was an emphasis on presenting wearables as fashion accessories and moving away from the original clunky technology associated with t...
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, will discuss how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at the same time reduce Time to Market (TTM) by using plug and play capabilities offered by a robust I...
After making a doctor’s appointment via your mobile device, you receive a calendar invite. The day of your appointment, you get a reminder with the doctor’s location and contact information. As you enter the doctor’s exam room, the medical team is equipped with the latest tablet containing your medical history – he or she makes real time updates to your medical file. At the end of your visit, you receive an electronic prescription to your preferred pharmacy and can schedule your next appointment.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional Social, Mobile and Cloud user experiences, our solutions help large and medium-sized organizations dr...
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of Cloud and Mobile Strategy at GENBAND, will explore what is needed to take a real time communications ...
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on Twitter at @MicroservicesE
SYS-CON Events announced today that Litmus Automation will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Litmus Automation’s vision is to provide a solution for companies that are in a rush to embrace the disruptive Internet of Things technology and leverage it for real business challenges. Litmus Automation simplifies the complexity of connected devices applications with Loop, a secure and scalable cloud platform.
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark and Intel Edison. You will also get an overview of cloud technologies s...
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
The WebRTC Summit 2015 New York, to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 16th International Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, Big Data Expo, and DevOps Summit.
SOA Software has changed its name to Akana. With roots in Web Services and SOA Governance, Akana has established itself as a leader in API Management and is expanding into cloud integration as an alternative to the traditional heavyweight enterprise service bus (ESB). The company recently announced that it achieved more than 90% year-over-year growth. As Akana, the company now addresses the evolution and diversification of SOA, unifying security, management, and DevOps across SOA, APIs, microservices, and more.
The list of ‘new paradigm’ technologies that now surrounds us appears to be at an all time high. From cloud computing and Big Data analytics to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the Internet of Things (IoT), today we have to deal with what the industry likes to call ‘paradigm shifts’ at every level of IT. This is disruption; of course, we understand that – change is almost always disruptive.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SafeLogic has been named “Bag Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo® New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. SafeLogic provides security products for applications in mobile and server/appliance environments. SafeLogic’s flagship product CryptoComply is a FIPS 140-2 validated cryptographic engine designed to secure data on servers, workstations, appliances, mobile devices, and in the Cloud.
GENBAND has announced that SageNet is leveraging the Nuvia platform to deliver Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) to its large base of retail and enterprise customers. Nuvia’s cloud-based solution provides SageNet’s customers with a full suite of business communications and collaboration tools. Two large national SageNet retail customers have recently signed up to deploy the Nuvia platform and the company will continue to sell the service to new and existing customers. Nuvia’s capabilities include HD voice, video, multimedia messaging, mobility, conferencing, Web collaboration, deskt...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cisco, the worldwide leader in IT that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cisco makes amazing things happen by connecting the unconnected. Cisco has shaped the future of the Internet by becoming the worldwide leader in transforming how people connect, communicate and collaborate. Cisco and our partners are building the platform for the Internet of Everything by connecting the...
Temasys has announced senior management additions to its team. Joining are David Holloway as Vice President of Commercial and Nadine Yap as Vice President of Product. Over the past 12 months Temasys has doubled in size as it adds new customers and expands the development of its Skylink platform. Skylink leads the charge to move WebRTC, traditionally seen as a desktop, browser based technology, to become a ubiquitous web communications technology on web and mobile, as well as Internet of Things compatible devices.
Docker is an excellent platform for organizations interested in running microservices. It offers portability and consistency between development and production environments, quick provisioning times, and a simple way to isolate services. In his session at DevOps Summit at 16th Cloud Expo, Shannon Williams, co-founder of Rancher Labs, will walk through these and other benefits of using Docker to run microservices, and provide an overview of RancherOS, a minimalist distribution of Linux designed expressly to run Docker. He will also discuss Rancher, an orchestration and service discovery platf...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.