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Instana Pipeline Feedback for Release Performance

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On August 15th the application performance management (APM) service Instana launched Pipeline Feedback for release performance tracking and analysis. Pipeline Feedback provides automatic tracking of application releases, feedback on release performance, and integration with Jenkins.

Instana products are designed to monitor cloud, container, and microservice applications. Its APM service features automatic discovery of services and tracing on every request through the application in order to detect and diagnose complex application performance issues. Pipeline Feedback is being released as part of Instana's APM offering. Pipeline Feedback was designed to provide engineers greater visibility into software releases and quicker feedback on release quality. Instana correlates all application logging and metrics data alongside the release timing information into a centralized service dashboard.

As part of APM, Pipeline Feedback automatically deploys monitoring to each part of the application and traces all application requests. The tool detects changes in real-time and updates its metrics and reports to reflect any performance impact. Pipeline Feedback introduces the concept of Release Markers to represent a single release. While releases reflect any change to application code or infrastructure, a Release Marker represents when changes are packaged and made generally available. Release Markers are indicated by users via the APM API and can be customized to reflect every code change or a group of changes as a release.

The time of releases are correlated with events and issues to detect potential problems with a release. With the Pipeline Feedback Dashboard, users can review the health of a release and also access release notifications. 

Pipeline Feedback Dashboard from the Instana Blog

Another feature introduced with Pipeline Feedback is the Release Health Indicator, which monitors potential impact a release had on the overall application health. This metric is visible in the Instana Incidents Dashboard. Instana Incidents detect when edge services and critical infrastructure have become unhealthy based on when a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) has been breached. Instana automatically monitors service KPIs for load, latency, and errors.

Pipeline Feedback provides an integration for Jenkins, and open source automation server commonly used for CI/CD pipelines and release management. The Pipeline Feedback integration is a Jenkins plugin that sends release data to the Instana backend. Data can also be sent via an API call. The integration enables Jenkins releases to be annotated on Instana APM graphs so users can plot releases alongside performance data.

Several application monitoring tools provide similar APM and pipeline health visibility features. AppDynamics Continuous Delivery tools automatically track and monitor applications and provide alerts and monitoring for releases and key business transactions. New Relic's APM service offers a deployment dashboard that lists recent deployments and their impact on end users, response times, throughput, and errors

Instana offers a free trial to learn more about APM and Pipeline Feedback.

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