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You can use the Machine Agent to monitor application nodes running inside Docker containers and to identify container issues that impact application performance. By viewing and comparing APM metrics with the underlying container and server/machine metrics, you can easily answer the question: Is my application problem purely an application problem, or is the root cause in the container or the server? 

Docker Container monitoring requires a Server Visibility license and version 4.3.3 or higher of both the Controller and the Machine Agent.

The Machine Agent should be deployed inside a Docker container. The Machine Agent collects metrics for Docker containers on the same host, in addition to server and machine metrics for the host itself. The Controller shows all monitored containers, for each host, and the container and host IDs for each container.  By default, the Machine Agent only monitors containers that have a running APM Agent, but this can be changed by setting the sim.docker.monitorAPMContainersOnly property on the Controller. See Controller Settings for Server Visibility. The Controller shows all monitored containers for each host, and the container and host IDs for each container.

To deploy a Machine Agent on a host outside a Docker container, create a symbolic link: ln -s / /hostroot/ on the host. This symbolic link enables the machine agent to collect host metrics along with Docker container metrics. When a Machine Agent is deployed inside a Docker container for monitoring, the symbolic link is automatically created when the volume mounts.

The following diagram illustrates how to deploy container monitoring: 

  • Install the Machine Agent () in a standalone container.  The Machine Agent collects hardware metrics for each monitored container, as well as Machine and Server metrics for the host (), and forwards the metrics to the Controller.
  • The Machine Agent is able to monitor all containers that are running on that host, subject to the limits outlined below, and will report runtime metrics and metadata for every container.  In addition, If any of the containers have an APM Agent installed (), then the Machine Agent will correlate the container metadata and runtime metrics with the associated APM Node.

Before You Start

Note the following:

  1. AppDynamics recommends that you use Docker CE/EE v17.03 or Docker Engine v1.13 with this product. Some data might be missing if you are using previous versions of Docker.
  2. Docker Visibility is not supported on Docker for Windows or Docker for Mac. 
  3. AppDynamics strongly recommends that you follow these guidelines (Instrument JVMs in a Dynamic Environment) when monitoring container-based applications.
  4. The Machine Agent can monitor up to 120 running containers per host. The default maximum number of containers per host is 100. With the cgroup enabled flag set to true, the Machine Agent can monitor up to 600 containers per host. See Configuring Docker Visibility
  5. The Machine Agent collects metrics from containers with one or more running processes whose command line matches a configurable regex. By default, this regex matches all processes (*). You can override this behavior by editing the following regex in <machine_agent_home>/extensions/DockerMonitoring/conf/DockerMonitoring.yml:
    containerMonitoringConfig:containerProcessSelectorRegex: ".*"
  6. The maximum number of containers you can monitor in one Controller depends on the Controller size, the total number of App Agents, and the current load. If you are using a SaaS Controller, please work with your Account Manager.
  7. Please review the following:
    1. Best Practices for setting up App Agents and Standalone Machine Agents 
    2. Best Practices for Instrumenting JVMs
    3. Docker Visibility Known Issues in the latest Release Notes

Enabling Docker Visibility

To enable Docker Visibility:

  1. On the Controller, log in to the Administration Console and verify that sim.docker.enabled is set to true
  2. On the agent, make sure that Server Visibility Enabled and Enable Docker Visibility are both set to true

Docker Visibility Setup

The quickest and easiest way to run the AppDynamics Server Agent is to use one of the official images from the Docker Store (https://store.docker.com/images/appdynamics).  These images are produced by AppDynamics, based on certified base images from the Docker Community, and these can either be run directly or used as base images for your own application containers.  For full details of how to download and run containers based on these official images, please see the documentation posted on the Docker Store. If you prefer to build your base images, the full source code for building these images is posted to GitHub. You can use this as a pattern for your own builds: https://github.com/Appdynamics/appdynamics-docker-images.  

You should set the following for the Machine Agent to monitor containers running on the server. See Agent Setup: Recommended Practices.

  • Server Visibility Enabled – Enable Server Visibility
  • Docker Enabled – Enable Docker Visibility
  • Volume Mounts – Specify the following:
    • Volume mounts to allow read-only access to the underlying file system (/proc, /etc and /sys). This allows the Server Agent to collect host-level metrics for containers running on the server.
    • The UNIX domain socket on which the Docker daemon is configured to listen for API calls. 

Viewing Container Data

For descriptions of specific metrics, see

To view container metrics in the Controller:

  • In the Application Dashboard, go to Containers to see all monitored containers used by the application.

  • Go to Servers > Containers to see all monitored containers on that host.

  • To open the Container Dashboard, open a Containers table, right-click on the container name, and choose View Details.

  • The Node Dashboard also includes a Containers tab for the container in which that node is running.

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