Anyone who has heard of container technologies has almost definitely heard of Docker. Docker has become one of the most widely-used containers in the world but it isn’t without its challenges. As useful as container technology has been, it’s not always as visible as physical hardware. The best docker container monitoring tools help eliminate this lack of transparency.

Monitoring services located somewhere between the host and the application layer is tricky without the right software. In this article, we’re going to look at the 8 Best Docker Container Monitoring tools. Before we look at the tools themselves we’re going to look at why you need to monitor Docker.

We cover each tool in depth below, but in case you only have time for a glance, here is our list of the eight Best Docker Container Monitoring tools:

  1. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (FREE TRIAL) Industry stalwart, runs on a Windows server that can measure Docker performance data like CPU, memory, uptime, and more.
  2. Dynatrace Easy to configure online service with autodiscovery on installation for containers and micro-services.
  3. Datadog Works well with Docker, can detect and report when containers are created and/or destroyed.
  4. ManageEngine Applications Manager Gives you a dashboard view on the containers including metrics on CPU, disk usage, availability, and health
  5. SolarWinds Librato (FREE TRIAL) Real-time monitoring platform for Docker-based applications, preconfigured to monitor Docker metrics.
  6. Sematext Can be run on a docker host with a docker run command or through docker-compose to monitor Docker metrics.
  7. Sumo Logic Docker compatible application and log monitoring software with good dashboard use of metrics and graphs.
  8. SignalFx Comprehensive infrastructure monitor that integrates well with Docker and can monitor a host of metrics.

Why do I need to Monitor Docker Containers? 

In just a matter of years, user experience expectations have risen to unprecedented levels. Users aren’t satisfied with anything less than applications that perform seamlessly. However, living up to expectations and delivering a high-quality user experience requires ongoing maintenance and performance management.

If you don’t have a Docker monitoring tool then you don’t have a point of reference to make sure that performance is up to scratch. In other words, you won’t be able to measure its performance. Without the necessary visibility, you won’t have the tools you need to stave off performance degradation and poor user experience.

In addition, with the necessary visibility, you will also be able to detect performance issues at the production level and benefit from long term capacity planning.

1. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor is an application monitor that provides visibility into Docker. The program can measure Docker performance data such as CPU, memory, uptime, and more.

Performance information can be viewed on a dashboard that breaks down Container Details and Container Performance. To make things easier to monitor, SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor provides performance graphs so you can see how the CPU and Memory of Docker has changed over time.

Capacity planning is one of the most useful features included with SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor. The software uses your current usage data to forecast when the container’s capacity is going to expire in the future. For example, there is a CPU Capacity Forecast Chart so you know whether you have the resources to support future usage requirements.

As both a docker monitoring solution and application monitor, SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor provides you with everything you need to maintain your containerized infrastructure. The product starts at a price of $2,995 (£2,406). There is also a 30-day free trial.

SolarWinds Server & Application MonitorDownload 30-day FREE Trial

2. Dynatrace

Dynatrace is an application and performance monitoring solution that’s easy to configure. All you need to begin is install Dynatrace on a Docker host. Once complete, the next step is for the program to automatically discover containers and micro-services. After the platform has finished discovering your infrastructure, you can view the containerized processes through the dashboard in real-time. The software can also monitor the performance of applications and microservices located inside the containers.

Log analytics is another useful feature provided with Dynatrace. You can view all the log messages associated with an application inside one log file. Every log entry provides you with additional information that can be used to filter your search. For example, log entries will show the container image, ID that logged the message, and the output used.

If you’re looking for a scalable Docker monitoring solution then Dynatrace is an excellent choice. In order to view the price of Dynatrace you’ll have to contact the company directly.

3. Datadog

Datadog is an application and service monitoring platform that offers integration with Docker. The cluster agent detects when containers are created and destroyed so that your monitoring environment keeps up to speed with your virtual environment. Metrics you can monitor include CPU, I/O, and memory. All of this information can be viewed in one pane of glass through the dashboard via a combination of numerical values and graphs.

Dashboards are drag-and-drop so they can be customized according to what you want to see. To help diagnose performance issues more easily, Datadog grants you visibility over application code performance. In addition, you can also view CPU and memory forecasts to help you implement capacity planning over the long term.

The alerts system included with the program is also of high quality. You can set alert thresholds to dictate when alerts are generated. To reduce the likelihood of false positives Datadog takes into account regular fluctuations that could trigger a false alarm. The advantage of this is that you only see legitimate alerts.

There are four versions of Datadog available to purchase: Infrastructure, APM, Log Management, and Synthetics. The cost of these ranges: Infrastructure costs $15 (£12) per host per month, APM $31 (£24) per host per month, Log Management $1.27 (£1.02) per million log events per month, and Synthetics $5 (£4) per 10,000 test runs per month.

4. ManageEngine Applications Manager 

ManageEngine Applications Manager is an application monitor that can monitor Docker. The software provides information on the containers within a Docker host including metrics on CPU, disk usage, availability, and health. This information can be viewed in the form of graphs to monitor the Availability or Performance History of Docker over a predefined time period (these are color-coded to make them easier to read at a glance).

You can also generate detailed reports in ManageEngine Applications Manager. Reports include details on active files, inactive files memory paging,and cache. This data is useful for identifying how efficiently your resources are being allocated.

The software also includes an alerts system which generates notifications based on alert rules. You can configure alerts to be sent by email and SMS. You also automate certain actions such as starting, stopping, or restarting a container. Automation is useful for addressing issues that keep recurring.

ManageEngine Applications Manager is available for free for monitoring up to five applications or servers. There are two paid versions you can purchase; Professional and Enterprise. The Professional Version ranges from $945 (£759) for 25 monitors up to $7,195 (£5,780) for 250 monitors. The Enterprise version ranges from $9,595 (£7,708) for 250 monitors up to $83,995 (£67,476) for 5000 monitors.

5. SolarWinds Librato (FREE TRIAL)

SolarWinds Librato is a real-time monitoring platform for Docker-based applications. The tool comes with preconfigured dashboards and monitors metrics such as CPU percent utilization, CPU throttling, memory utilization, network traffic, and network errors. All of this data can be viewed on graphs so that you can see the performance fluctuations over time.

The setup process is incredibly easy, all you need to do is install the Librato Agent. Once this is done you open the Integrations tab, select Docker and toggle the option to Enabled. You’re then ready to start monitoring your Docker environment. This makes SolarWindsLibrato a convenient choice in an enterprise environment.

The pricing of SolarWinds Librato is a little more complex than some of the other tools on this list. There is a free Developer plan and a paid Production plan. The Developer plan supports up to 100 metric streams with a maximum resolution of 60 seconds.

On the production plan you are charged for each metric stream you send to the company which is metered. by the hour. The price ranges from $0.318 (£0.26) for five seconds metric resolution to $0.053 (£0.043) for 300 seconds plus. There is also a 14-day free trial.

SolarWinds LibratoStart 30-day FREE Trial

6. Sematext

Sematext is a Docker monitoring agent that can be run on a docker host with a docker run command or through docker-compose. Metrics monitored include memory, CPU, disk IO, memory failed counters, network errors, network traffic, and more. All of these metrics can be accessed with the Docker dashboards included out-of-the-box.

One area where Sematext stands out is its visibility over Docker logs. In Sematext, the user can search through log data with filters. Log data can be filtered by host, container, image, or labels. Being able to access this information gives you a much more in-depth perspective of what is going on in your containers.

There are five versions of Sematext available to use: Basic, Standard, Pro, Pro Silver, and Custom. Basic is free for up to three hosts with 10 custom metrics a month. The standard version costs $0.007 (£0.0056) with five free containers and then $0.002 (£0.0016) per container per hour from then on. A full list of pricing options for Sematext can be viewed on the company site. You can download the 30-day free trial.

7. Sumo Logic 

Sumo Logic is an application and log monitoring solution that’s compatible with Docker. Sumo Logic can monitor containers in real-time. The dashboard view is broken down into metric boxes and graphs. In one dashboard you can view a graph on the Top 10 Containers by CPU Consumption or the Top 10 Containers by Traffic Sent and Received alongside the number of containers created and the number of hosts.

Advanced analytics is one of the features that makes Sumo Logic a particularly strong product. The analytics capability can automatically detect anomalies in your virtual infrastructure. In effect, this means that the program can automate the process of identifying performance issues.

There are three versions of Sumo Logic: Sumo Free, Professional, and Enterprise. Sumo Free costs nothing, supports up to 500Mb of log input, and. 4GB of log storage. The Professional version costs $108 (£86) per GB/month with a minimum of 3GB log input and 30Gb log storage. The Enterprise version costs $180 (£144) per GB per month with the same log limits as the Professional version. You can sign up to the 30-day free trial.

8. SignalFX 

SignalFx is an infrastructure monitor that can monitor Docker. SignalFx allows you to monitor hosts, containers, and applications from a single pane of glass. Metrics you can monitor include System CPU Usage, Memory Usage, Memory Limit, Network Bytes Received, Block I/O Volume, Total Block I/O volume and more. To help diagnose performance issues you can aggregate containers across all hosts.

With the alerts system, you don’t have to catch everything in real-time. SignalFx’s alerts are almost instantaneous and notify you when something changes in your Docker environment. For example, if CPU usage reaches an unusually high limit the program will send you a notification. To increase reliability SignalFx also uses analytics to send you alerts on trends you need to know about.

There are two versions of SignalFx available to purchase: SignalFx Infrastructure Monitoring and SignalFx Microservices APM. SignalFx Infrastructure Monitoring starts at a price of $15 (£12) per host per month with 10 containers per host. SignalFX Microservices APM starts at a price of $45 (£36) per host per month. You can download the 14-day free trial.

Deciding on a Docker Container Monitoring Tool

The variety of container monitoring tools on the market might make it difficult to know which to choose. All of the tools on this list have their strengths. Some have better dashboard-based experiences, others offer a greater depth of metrics and others are easier to configure. Pick a tool that is most in line with your approach to network monitoring.

Tools like SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor, Datadog, and Sematex are all excellent for monitoring Docker. SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor offers a simple monitoring experience with high-quality graphs, Datadog excels at providing you with a one pane of glass perspective of your containerized environment, and Sematex is great for pulling detailed metrics from Docker.