The cloud provides a standardized approach to embracing disruptive technologies with higher agility and ease of operations. This is why most organizations have embraced cloud-based infrastructure and services for application development and delivery. However, the processes, tools, and platforms used in the application development life cycle are always evolving, allowing businesses to make the most of their cloud investments. Heroku is one such cloud-based platform, and it helps make application development simpler and more efficient. It allows developers to leverage the AWS infrastructure without worrying about the complexities of infrastructure management, and it provides a platform designed to automate routines and allow developers to maximize their efficiency by focusing on real work. Furthermore, Heroku offers several add-ons to simplify developers’ tasks. In this article, we’ll highlight some of the best add-ons to make the most of your Heroku applications.
SolarWinds® Papertrail™ is a cloud-based log management service, and it’s available as a free add-on on Heroku. With this add-on, you can collect your Heroku platform logs (including logs from dynos and buildpacks) in one place. In addition to Heroku logging, Papertrail also helps you collect logs from other cloud-based and on-premises infrastructure and application sources, making log monitoring easier and more efficient. Its real-time event viewer supports live tail; you can view all messages in the event viewer, which auto-scrolls and allows you to pause the feed to inspect critical events. Furthermore, it’s possible to skip to a specific time to monitor logs surrounding major issues. Papertrail also allows you to save critical searches and create alerts. For instance, you can search “status=500” to find all messages regarding the HTTP error code, save the search query, and create an alert for the error. This allows your team to respond to the error quickly. Furthermore, you can configure alerts to be sent via your preferred application (Slack, HipChat, etc.). It’s easy to get started with Papertrail; you can download a free trial here.
SolarWinds Pingdom® is a popular website monitoring solution offering uptime monitoring, page speed monitoring, real user monitoring, transaction monitoring, and other useful features. Organizations can integrate Pingdom with their Heroku applications to get instant visibility into the performance and availability of their applications. This add-on allows you to capture data related to website user experience in real time and helps you identify which transactions need improvements. It allows developers to get to the root cause of issues quickly using traceroute and server response codes. With various metrics providing granular visibility into the performance of different components, Pingdom makes it easier for DevOps teams to stay on top of their applications. It also allows historical trend analysis and helps in forecasting and capacity planning. With Pingdom, DevOps teams can generate visual reports to communicate application requirements with nontechnical users.
AppOptics—Application Performance Management
SolarWinds AppOptics™ simplifies application performance management (APM) by offering unified monitoring for a wide range of servers, hosts, applications, containers, and more. It offers distributed transaction tracing capable of capturing the path of a request across multiple internal services, APIs, dynos, and other distributed components. You can easily monitor the Heroku router, runtimes, and databases by enabling the AppOptics add-on. It offers easy-to-understand graphs and preconfigured dashboards you can customize based on your monitoring needs. With service-level root cause analysis, organizations can easily pinpoint issues in their complex stack and resolve issues quickly. The solution also makes database monitoring easier and supports several metrics from PostgreSQL and Redis. It can automatically track the databases of instrumented applications to identify slow-running queries, and AppOptics offers several libraries/modules for a wide range of Heroku applications to simplify the identification of bottlenecks and inefficient transactions.
As organizations develop new applications or extend their functionality with additional features, they often get exposed to numerous application vulnerabilities. Though many of these vulnerabilities could be avoided by following security best practices during development, third-party APIs and services can still cause damage. Web application firewalls (WAFs) provide an added layer of security with a smart approach to mitigate cross-site request forgery (CSRF), cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and other application-layer attacks. The Expedited WAF add-on for applications on Heroku stops malicious bots and blocks traffic from suspicious IP addresses. Because patch- or signature-based security systems offer little protection against zero-day attacks, the intrusion detection system Expedited WAF offers relies on the inspection of every web request and matching the pattern of attacks.
For web administrators handling modern dynamic websites, page speed optimization is a never-ending exercise. They must ensure the images, CSS, JS code, and more are optimized for faster page loads. Cloudinary is a software as a service (SaaS) solution designed to make image optimization and management simpler. It’s available as a free Heroku add-on; however, you may have to subscribe to a different plan based on your application’s requirements. Cloudinary allows developers to ensure images load faster across all screens by automatically selecting the most efficient images with regard to resolution, quality, and format. The service also automates image resizing, cropping, and device pixel ratio adjustments.
Though this list of add-ons is by no means provide exhaustive, it includes some of the most popular and useful add-ons for developers. Monitoring applications deployed over Heroku can become challenging for teams new to the ecosystem. Heroku has its own log routing system called Logplex, which collects logs from all sources for unified monitoring. Developers can view these logs over the command-line interface using Docker CLI commands, or they can use the Heroku dashboard. However, this only allows you to view the last 1,500 log lines, after which new logs are written over them. Therefore, developers need to forward these logs to another location for long-term monitoring of web traffic trends and anomalies. To make the most of Heroku application logs and metrics, teams should employ a third-party log analyzer— like Papertrail—capable of simplifying Heroku logging. You can get a free trial of Papertrail to learn more about its capabilities.