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How to set up synthetic monitoring at scale with Grafana Cloud

15 Jul 2021 3 min read

While unit testing and integration testing can give you insight into the individual functionalities of an application, “at times you need some sort of monitoring or testing mechanism which also simulates a user’s behavior to test how the application would work or look to an actual user in the world,” says Grofers Software Development Engineer Yashvardhan Kukreja. 

That’s where synthetic monitoring comes in. Synthetic monitoring allows you to monitor your system from a users' standpoint and proactively improve performance.

At GrafanaCONline 2021, Kukreja showcased the pros of using the synthetic monitoring plugin in Grafana Cloud, from the valuable insights into large-scale applications deployed around the world to the ease of setting up a dashboard. 

The main synthetic monitoring checks (essentially high-level API checks) focus on application level End-to-End (E2E) availability, service-level availability, geographical bottlenecks, and infrastructure-level availability of your technologies. Together, “these synthetic monitoring checks serve as a fantastic set of metrics and service-level indicators for defining SLAs around availability and performance,” explained Kukreja.

Synthetic monitoring is especially mission-critical for applications running at scale across multiple countries. “All your code might be the same across the application, but there can be architectural concerns which might be causing outages or bad performance of an application in the U.S., but not in India, for example,” said Kukreja. “In those scenarios, these synthetic monitoring checks are the ones which raise the alerts to the system administrators to look into these things.” 

While there are a lot of effective tools in the market, Kukreja calls out the synthetic monitoring plugin in Grafana Cloud as the very best. First, Grafana Cloud is cost-effective, with free and paid plans available for users. (Sign up for a free Grafana Cloud trial here.) 

“With the synthetic monitoring plugin, you only pay for the metrics which are being stored,” explained Kukreja, who is also a longtime user of Grafana Labs technology. “Behind the scenes, metrics are being stored by the Grafana-hosted Prometheus and Loki, but those are very cost-effective, too.” 

But hands down, “one of the biggest and coolest things about the Grafana Cloud synthetic monitoring plugin is that you can set up this entire thing in five minutes,” said Kukreja, who backed up his statement with a live demo. “No terminal or code to set up synthetic monitoring checks. Just go to a Grafana portal, set up the plugin, and set up the checks.” 

In the end, you not only save yourself time, said Kukreja. “It also gives you a fantastic dashboard automatically with which you can visualize and get really great insights around your synthetic monitoring checks from a very holistic standpoint.” 

Learn more about synthetic monitoring and check out Kukreja’s 5-minute demo by watching the full session here. All of the GrafanaCONline 2021 sessions are now available on demand.