The best monitoring tools for serverless environments

TL;DR: The biggest challenge for serverless developers has always been observability and thus the extended MTTD/R. These are the top four serverless monitoring tools that help solve the problem.

Serverless has gathered a lot of attention this past couple of years and with a lot of Fortune 500 companies jumping ship and starting to use serverless architecture in production, it only made it more popular than ever. And while Serverless offers a lot of benefits, there are a lot of users who have yet to make the switch because of the new computing paradigm that makes developers change perspective quite a bit.

The main challenge that we hear serverless users (or people looking to migrate to serverless) point out is the lack of observability and that’s why we are going to take the time today to discuss the best tools that will solve this very issue.

1. Dashbird

In an already crowded space of serverless monitoring tools, Dashbird has managed to make its own path to the top spot through a simple to use user interface, an easy setup that takes less than 5 minutes, a live tailing feature that allows you to see updates in real-time and a powerful alerting system. No coding required! That’s right, Dashbird works seamlessly without having to code a single line of code! You signup with the service and go through the two-minute tutorial and you are off to the races. One of the biggest benefits of Dashbird is that it pulls all the data from CloudWatch and AWS X-Ray, and only requiring read permissions to do so, meaning that your app won’t suffer any latency.

Core features

  • Clean and easy-to-understand user interface
  • No latency added to the function execution time
  • Great support staff
  • Low cost
  • Support for Java, Node.js, Python
  • Start working with your data immediately
  • Pre-configured error and threat alarms and custom alarms
  • Aggregated real-time observability for AWS services
  • Well-Architected insights and actionable suggestions for improving users’ architecture

2. Thundra

thundra

Thundra is easy to setup tool that can work as an alternative to AWS X-Ray with easy-to-read diagrams in a well-designed dashboard. One of the biggest differentiators between Thundra and its competitors is its focus on Java rather than Node.js or Python. Similar to Dashbird’s approach, Thundra doesn’t add any latency to the function execution time by separating the data-sending from the Lambda function.

Core features

  • Easy setup
  • No extra latency added to the function execution time
  • Requieres limited access to AWS account

3. IOpipe

iopipe

IOpipe provides monitoring, tracking and profiling for AWS Lambda functions written in Node.JS, Python, and Java. It features real-time metrics with customizable alerts as well as customizable events fro granular error logs. Similar to Dashbird and Thundra it allows you to track and profile performance and function cold starts. One of the key differentiators of IOpipe is its tracking system which involves having to wrap every Lambda function which basically means adding another piece of code to every function making a call to IOpipe in order to have monitoring for that function. This adds extra latency to your function execution time.

Core features

  • Low cost
  • The user doesn’t need to give access to AWS
  • Versatile alerting system
  • Support for Java, Node.js, Python

4. AWS CloudWatch

Amazon’s CloudWatch is an AWS monitoring tool many solutions are using in one way or another, however, on its own, it does introduce around a minute of delay, so performance is not one of its stronger points. Serverless monitoring is done through the command line, or – alternatively – the visualization features that CloudWatch offers. You can examine a specific metric in more detail by searching for details like resources, metric names, regions, etc. Depending on the features you want, there are different pricing tiers. The basic services all fall into the free tier, while detailed EC2 monitoring, to name an example, will require you to be a paid subscriber.

Core features

  • Custom alert triggers
  • Available out of the box
  • Difficult to navigate but contains all the log data


These are the top 4 serverless monitoring tools that I believe are worth talking about at this point but since the whole serverless space is evolving at such a rapid pace I’m sure I’ll have to revisit this topic sooner rather than later.

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Made by developers for developers

Dashbird was born out of our own need for an enhanced serverless debugging and monitoring tool, and we take pride in being developers.

What our customers say

Dashbird gives us a simple and easy to use tool to have peace of mind and know that all of our Serverless functions are running correctly. We are instantly aware now if there’s a problem. We love the fact that we have enough information in the Slack notification itself to take appropriate action immediately and know exactly where the issue occurred.

Thanks to Dashbird the time to discover the occurrence of an issue reduced from 2-4 hours to a matter of seconds or minutes. It also means that hundreds of dollars are saved every month.

Great onboarding: it takes just a couple of minutes to connect an AWS account to an organization in Dashbird. The UI is clean and gives a good overview of what is happening with the Lambdas and API Gateways in the account.

I mean, it is just extremely time-saving. It’s so efficient! I don’t think it’s an exaggeration or dramatic to say that Dashbird has been a lifesaver for us.

Dashbird provides an easier interface to monitor and debug problems with our Lambdas. Relevant logs are simple to find and view. Dashbird’s support has been good, and they take product suggestions with grace.

Great UI. Easy to navigate through CloudWatch logs. Simple setup.

Dashbird helped us refine the size of our Lambdas, resulting in significantly reduced costs. We have Dashbird alert us in seconds via email when any of our functions behaves abnormally. Their app immediately makes the cause and severity of errors obvious.