NetLogger: a toolkit for distributed system performance tuning and debugging

D. Gunter, B. Tierney
IFIP/IEEE Eighth International Symposium on Integrated Network Management, 2003.  
Developers and users of high-performance distributed systems often observe performance problems such as unexpectedly low throughput or high latency. Determining the source of the performance problems requires detailed end-to-end instrumentation of all components, including the applications, operating systems, hosts, and networks. In this paper we describe a methodology that enables the real-time diagnosis of performance problems in complex high-performance distributed systems. The methodology
more » ... . The methodology includes tools for generating timestamped event logs that can be used to provide detailed end-to-end application and system level monitoring; and tools for visualizing the log data and real-time state of the distributed system. This methodology, called NetLogger, has proven invaluable for diagnosing problems in networks and in distributed systems code. This approach is novel in that it combines network, host, and application-level monitoring, providing a complete view of the entire system. NetLogger is designed to be extremely light-weight, and includes a mechanism for reliably collecting monitoring events from multiple distributed locations. This technical report summarizes most important points of several previous papers on NetLogger, and is meant to be used as a general overview. keywords: distributed systems performance analysis and debugging Introduction The performance characteristics of distributed applications are complex, rife with "soft failures" in which the application produces correct results but has much lower throughput or higher latency than expected. Because of the complex interactions between multiple components in the system, the cause of the performance problems is often elusive. Bottlenecks can occur in any component along the data's path: applications, operating systems, device drivers, network adapters, and network components such as switches and routers. Sometimes bottlenecks involve interactions between components, sometimes they are due to unrelated network activity impacting the distributed system. While post-hoc diagnosis of performance problems is valuable for systemic problems, for operational problems users will have already suffered through a period of degraded performance. The ability to recognize operational problems enables elements of the distributed system to use this information to adapt to operational conditions, minimizing the impact on users. We have developed a methodology, known as NetLogger (short for Networked Application Logger), for monitoring, under realistic operating conditions, the behavior of all the elements of the application-to-application communication path in order to determine exactly what is happening within a complex system. Distributed application components, as well as some operating system components, are modified to perform precision timestamping and logging of "interesting" events, at every critical point in the distributed system. The events are correlated with the system's behavior in order to characterize the performance of all aspects of the system and network in detail during actual operation. The monitoring is designed to facilitate identification of bottlenecks, performance tuning, and network performance research. It also allows accurate measurement of throughput and
doi:10.1109/inm.2003.1194164 fatcat:qgivqeadk5g2fk357v5vvcg4u4