Docker has become one of the most widely-used containers in the world but it isn’t without its challenges.
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.
Here is our list of the eleven best Docker Container monitoring tools:
- Datadog Docker Monitoring EDITOR’S CHOICE This cloud-based service is an infrastructure monitoring package that can be expanded by a plug-in to add Docker-specific performance tracking capabilities. Combine Docker monitoring with applications, server, and network monitoring to get a full-stack monitoring suite. Start a 14-day free trial.
- SolarWinds Server & Application Monitor EDITOR’S CHOICE Industry stalwart runs on a Windows server that can measure Docker performance data like CPU, memory, uptime, and more. Start 30-day free trial.
- AppOptics Docker Monitoring with APM (FREE TRIAL) An application and infrastructure monitoring system that includes a Docker performance monitor.
- SolarWinds Librato (FREE TRIAL) Real-time monitoring platform for Docker-based applications, preconfigured to monitor Docker metrics.
- Sematext (FREE TRIAL) A cloud-based system monitoring server that tracks Docker and Kubernetes metrics and logs.
- CrowdStrike Falcon Cloud Workload Protection (FREE TRIAL) A security monitoring system for virtual services that includes container systems, such as Docker and Kubernetes. Watch container performance from this SaaS platform.
- Site24x7 Docker Monitoring (FREE TRIAL) A cloud-based monitoring system that has an Infrastructure module that covers servers and services, including Docker activity.
- ManageEngine Applications Manager Gives you a dashboard view on the containers including metrics on CPU, disk usage, availability, and health.
- Dynatrace Easy to configure online service with autodiscovery on installation for containers and micro-services.
- Sumo Logic Docker compatible application and log monitoring software with good dashboard use of metrics and graphs.
- SignalFx Comprehensive infrastructure monitor that integrates well with Docker and can monitor a host of metrics.
Before we look at the tools themselves we’re going to look at why you need to monitor Docker.
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.
The best Docker container monitoring tools
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.
- Easy to use customizable dashboards
- Cloud-based SaaS product allows monitoring with no server deployments or onboarding costs
- Can monitor both internally and externally giving network admins a holistic view of network performance and accessibility
- Supports auto-discovery that builds network topology maps on the fly
- Changes made to the network are reflected in near real-time
- Allows businesses to scale their monitoring efforts reliably through flexible pricing options
- Would like to see a longer trial period for testing
There are four versions of Datadog available to purchase: Infrastructure, APM, Log Management, and Synthetics. The cost of these ranges: Infrastructure is available in three plans that cost $0, $15 (£12), and $23 (£18.40) per host per month. The APM package is available for $31 (£24) per host per month and the log management service, called Ingest, is priced at $0.10 (£0.08) per GB per month. You can get the Synthetic Monitoring package for $5 (£4) per 10,000 API test runs or $12 (£9.60) per 1,000 browser-based tests. You can get started with a 14-day free trial.
The Datadog platform is our top pick for a Docker container monitoring system because this package is able to watch over servers, networks, and applications, which gives it a view of all of the elements that contribute to a Docker container. The service can also create application dependency maps that identify which services support Docker and which reply on containers. With this information, you can quickly perform root cause analysis when any part of your IT infrastructure displays performance problems. Opt for the core Datadog Infrastructure package or set up a combined module package to keep your entire system running smoothly.
Official Site: https://www.datadoghq.com/free-datadog-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 have 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.
- Designed with large and enterprise networks in mind
- Can track Exchange specific metrics such as mailbox sizes, backpressure, transport services, and server resource utilization
- Proactively alerts when performance deviates from the baseline, giving administrators time to fix problems before they impact performance
- Supports both SNMP monitoring as well as packet analysis, giving you more control over monitoring than similar tools
- Uses drag and drop widgets to customize the look and feel of the dashboard
- Robust reporting system with pre-configured compliance templates
- This is a feature-rich enterprise tool, sysadmin will need to invest time to explore all monitoring options
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 Monitor is great for monitoring Docker containers and increase transparency over your processes. The dashboard provides you with a great view of container performance metrics and details.
Start 30-day Free Trial: solarwinds.com/server-application-monitor
OS: Windows Server 2016 and later
AppOptics is a cloud-based application monitoring service run by SolarWinds. The system was formed in 2017 through the combination of Librato and TraceView. AppOptics is marketed at two levels of service. The upper level of the service is called APM, which is an application performance monitor. The lower level plan of AppOptics is called AppOptics Infrastructure. The Infrastructure system is included in the APM plan. Docker monitoring is included in AppOptics Infrastructure.
The AppOptics system requires an agent program to be installed on the monitored system. This agent is called the SolarWinds Snap Agent. This agent is able to track resource usage by Docker containers through the inclusion of a Docket plug-in, which is available for free with AppOptics Infrastructure but needs to be enabled and configured.
The Docker plug-in reports on server statuses as they relate to docker activity. These factors include CPU usage and memory activity for each container and for Docker overall. The plug-in also reports on server I/O activity and network statistics, such as the number of packets sent from the server for a container and the number of packets lost.
If you just want to monitor Docker, then the AppOptics Infrastructure plan will be enough. However, if there are other applications that you feel could be delivered more efficiently, then you should check out AppOptics APM, which also gets you the Docker-monitoring Infrastructure package.
- Offers great visualizations reflecting live and historical health metrics and resource consumption
- Is easily scalable, built as a cloud service
- Tracks all major resources such as CPU, memory, and network usage
- Can monitor Docker, Azure, and Hyper-V platforms, offering more flexibility than competing options
- Would like to see a longer trial period
AppOptics is a subscription service with charges levied in advance. The AppOptics APM plan is more expensive than AppOptics Infrastructure. You can get a 14-day free trial of the full AppOptics APM service to see whether you need the full services of that package or could get all of your requirements fulfilled with just the Infrastructure module.
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 collection 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.
- Offers real-time monitoring and alerting into Docker environments
- Integration is simple through a quick agent install
- Can track performance changes over time
- Would like to see a 30-day trial
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.
Sematext is a cloud-based infrastructure monitoring service. It doesn’t only monitor cloud systems, it supports the monitoring and management of any network anywhere. Sematext deploys containers itself. The Sematext Agent uses containerization to not only collect statistics on Docker performance but also system-wide performance data.
It isn’t necessary to set up the service by listing the applications running in containers because the Sematext Agent will automatically find them.
The agent is able to record the host resource utilization of each Docker container. It details the CPU, memory, page swaps, disk I/O, and errors. The service also gathers data on the volume of network traffic generated by the active Docker containers.
A second Sematext process examines log files. This investigation agent is also Docker-based. As well as looking at the log files generated by Docker, this agent will collect information from Syslog, database systems, web servers, and other native logs.
The Sematext processor searches through collected logs and live performance metrics looking for errors and security breaches.
As a cloud-based system, the dashboard for Sematext can be accessed from anywhere through any standard browser.
- Can collect performance data on sites, services, and supporting infrastructure
- Can collect log data, providing more details into events occurring on your assets
- Supports threshold-based alerts, ideal for maintaining SLAs.
- Has a freeware version for testing
- No on-premise version
- Logging relies on Kibana for data visualization
As a cloud-based system, the dashboard for Sematext can be accessed from anywhere through any standard browser. The service is charged for by subscription with log monitoring levied at a monthly rate and live monitoring charged for per hour. You can get a 30-day free trial of the Sematext monitoring system.
CrowdStrike Falcon Cloud Workload Protection offers monitoring of Docker and Kubernetes activity as well as security protection. The service includes a discovery module that can track down your Docker containers no matter where they are hosted. The Docker containers might be operating on your own servers, on AWS, on Azure, or on Google Cloud Platform. The system is able to unify all Docker monitoring activities across platforms.
The container identification and monitoring service is useful and you might end up thinking this is the sole purpose of the CrowdStrike service. However, this is just the beginning. While tracking containers, the service also assesses them. It will produce recommendations on how to tighten up the settings of your containers and their related management in Kubernetes. The system will also watch where they run and any attempts to access or interfere with them.
If an attack is launched against your Docker system or a specific container, the CrowdStrike system spots this unusual activity and begins a trace. It can chain back through command execution and running processes to identify the account from which they were launched and examine all other activity by that user. This quickly identifies a threat that can be isolated by shutting down the account and killing all of the processes that it launched. Reaction is instant and automated and everything is documented.
- A discovery service that locates and maps all of your Docker containers
- Performance and resource usage monitoring for all containers
- An automated threat detection system
- Threat actor tracing
- Automated remediation systems
- You might end up thinking this is just a Docker monitoring service
You can evaluate CrowdStrike Falcon on a 15-day free trial.
Site24x7 is an online monitoring service for networks and websites. The Infrastructure plan from the service includes container monitoring that covers Docker activity. It doesn’t matter where your server is located or what operating system it has, Site24x7 Docker Monitoring will give you full control over its activities.
Site24x7 tracks all Docker container activity. It collects metrics on each and shows that data in the service console. The dashboard doesn’t just monitor containers, it has the ability to control them with a Start/Stop facility. This system can track containers on cloud services, such as AWS EC2, Google Cloud Platform, and Azure as well as activities generated by your own in-house servers.
A Site24x7 Infrastructure account can get you full supervisory control over a range of networking and application services, not only Docker containers. It is also able to monitor hypervisor systems, including Hyper-V and VMWare.
As well as providing real-time feedback on Docker activity, the Site24x7 Infrastructure plan stores data for time series analysis.
- One of the most holistic monitoring tools available, supporting networks, infrastructure, and real user monitoring in a single platform
- Uses real-time data to discover devices and build charts, network maps, and inventory reports
- Intuitive platform – little training needed to get fully functional
- User monitoring can help bridge the gap between technical issues, user behavior, and business metrics
- Supports a freeware version
- Is a very detailed platform that will require time to fully learn all of its features and options
The Infrastructure plan has a complicated pricing structure. It is a subscription service with a base price of $7 per month. That package will monitor up to 10 servers and there is a list of add-on services available. You can get a 30-day free trial of Site24x7 Infrastructure.
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 that 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.
- Offers on-premise and cloud deployment options, giving companies more choices for install
- Can highlight interdependencies between applications to map out how performance issues can impact businesses operations
- Offers log monitoring to track metrics like memory usage, disk IO, and cache status, providing a holistic view into your database health
- Can automatically detect databases, server hardware, and devices in real-time
- Can take time to fully explore all features and options available
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. You can download the 30-day free trial to get started.
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.
- Highly visual and customizable dashboards, excellent for enterprise NOCs
- Operates in the cloud, allowing it to be platform-independent
- Can monitor application uptime as well as the supporting infrastructure and user experience
- Designed specifically for large networks, smaller organizations may find the product overwhelming
- Offers synthetic monitoring rather than real-user monitoring
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.
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.
- Great dashboard visualizations, highly customizable
- Uses AI to automatically group suspicious events for analysis
- Uses intelligent alerting to reduce duplicate notifications
- Has a steep learning curve when compared to other products
- Integrations and initial onboarding can be complex
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 for the 30-day free trial.
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 data 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.
- Can monitor Docker environments and track performance between containers, hosts, and services
- Automatically identifies data trends and sends your top-level data insights
- Supports microservice monitoring
- Could benefit from a longer trial time
- Would like to see more self-help resources for new users
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 single pane of glass perspective of your containerized environment, and Sematex is great for pulling detailed metrics from Docker.
Related post: Docker vs Virtual Machines
Docker container monitoring FAQs
How does Docker provide isolation?
Docker provides isolation through a system of “namespaces.” The actual isolation structure is called a “container.” Thing of a container like a cardboard box that someone would use to carry a collection of their items. There is a set of namespaces for each container and they mediate with the surrounding environments, preventing direct contact with the container and external services.
Is Docker a security risk?
There are security risks involved in using Docker because one compromised container opens up a possible avenue to other containers operating in the system and also to the host. This is similar to the security risks on a network, where one compromised endpoint makes the entire network and all of its equipment vulnerable to attack. Therefore, it is important to implement security features within Docker to strengthen the security of each container.
Are Docker images secure?
Not all Docker images are secure. Be careful where you get them from. When making your own Docker structures, be sure to limit the access rights of its contents and implement appropriate security measures.
How do I prevent root access to my Docker container?
It is safer to run your Docker container as a non-root user. By default, the Docker system inherits the privileges from the user account that launches it. The settings of a container can impose further resource access limits.