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Introducing the AWS X-Ray Distributed Tracing Service

Meant to assist software developers in the investigation and debugging of distributed applications, including those with a microservices architecture, AWS X-Ray implements root cause analysis in tandem with advanced troubleshooting protocol to highlight performance bottlenecks and system errors. Moreover, the utility works on applications that are currently in development as well as those that have already hit the production phase.

Primary Benefits

According to their official website, AWS X-Ray provides its users with a plethora of benefits. Firstly, the tool is able to track user requests throughout the entire application, thereby offering an end-to-end image of the overall performance. This can be used to streamline code and introduce enhancements meant to add speed and efficiency to your application.

X-Ray even lets you follow specific paths, which allows you to uncover and identify issues in a quick and expedient manner. Individual users can also add metadata to their traces, which can be searched and filtered as needed.

In addition, the integrated service maps in AWS X-Ray let you view relationships between any services and resources within your application. This is an incredibly useful tool when it comes to locating and correcting high latencies or poor performance.

AWS X-Ray is compatible with a variety of platforms, including Amazon EC2, Amazon EC2 Container Service, AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Java, Node.js and .NET. Full support for AWS Lambda is expected to be added soon.

Jeff Barr, chief evangelist with Amazon Web Services, spoke about the need for simplification within today's IT infrastructure. He was quoted as saying: "The combination of cloud computing, microservices, and asynchronous, notification-based architectures has brought forth systems that have hundreds or thousands of moving parts. The challenge of identifying and addressing performance issues in these complex systems has only grown, as has the difficulty of aggregating individual, service-level observations into meaningful top-level results."

Taking on the Competition

The timing of Amazon's announcement is interesting. As Microsoft has recently released Azure Application Insights, a very similar solution, AWS X-Ray is obviously meant for direct competition with the experts behind the Windows operating system. Microsoft Azure Application Insights was originally announced at the Connect 2016 event, while AWS X-Ray was unveiled at AWS re:Invent 2016.

Amazon and Microsoft have been in competition for quite some time, especially when it comes to their cloud services, but the recent moves on behalf of both competitors has certainly brought the rivalry to a new level. How it will play out in the future is anybody's guess, but it's safe to say this is just the beginning.

Finding Out More

AWS X-Ray is currently in its preview phase. Interested parties can find out more information by going to https://aws.amazon.com/xray. Here you'll find specific product details, current pricing information and access to online documentation and additional resources. Those who would like to try out AWS X-Ray as soon as possible can also use the site to request their own free trial version of the tool. You can submit your request through their handy online form.

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