Blog Thanks to SenHub, no more gray areas in IT monitoring at Cdiscount
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casclient-cdiscount-peaksy-blog

Thanks to SenHub, no more gray areas in IT monitoring at Cdiscount

By Matthieu Noirbusson
12 June 2024 • 6 minutes read

Cdiscount’s Tech subsidiary, Peaksys, is in charge of operating all the group’s infrastructures, and as such, nothing must escape the vigilance of its teams, given the enormous business stakes involved. Until recently, the team was faced with a challenge: how to integrate the monitoring of its Azure cloud infrastructures into the team’s tools and processes?

In this interview, Peaksys’ Director of Infrastructure and Production, Thibaud Mori, and Benoît Monnier, Cloud Architect and Azure expert, talk about the discovery and integration of SenHub within the monitoring chain of their Azure APIM platform in their on premise Zabbix monitoring tool.

Peaksys, Cdiscount’s Tech subsidiary

Let’s take a step back in time to understand the history of this Bordeaux-based start-up, which was founded in 1998 and in 25 years has become the French e-commerce leader and a key digital player in Europe.

Since its creation, two major turning points have marked Cdiscount’s development:
In 2011, the company took a major technological turning point by opening a marketplace, thereby entering the platform economy head-on.

In 2021, building on the know-how and expertise it had acquired, Cdiscount turned to B2B. Today, Cdiscount has evolved its model into a B2B and B2C platform with its subsidiaries and entities Octopia (expert in marketplace solutions), C-Logistics (expert in e-commerce logistics), Cdiscount Advertising (expert in retail media) and Baleen (expert in cybersecurity).

Peaksys manufactures and operates digital solutions scaled for this entire ecosystem.

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Thibaud Mori, a technical boss

After fifteen years as a systems engineer and IT infrastructure manager, Thibaud Mori is now Peaksys’ Director of Infrastructure, and explains that Cdiscount systematically favors in-house development, as well as hosting its own infrastructure.

His teams of around fifty people manage the technical base and its operational security. Today, more than 5,000 servers spread between Bordeaux and Paris power 95% of the group’s services, handling 17 million unique visitors a month and 1 billion searches per year on the Cdiscount search engine.

 

The Cloud, when it fits

However, the Cloud is not absent from Peaksys’ infrastructure – far from it! To get closer to its international customers, IT is extending its services, notably through the Azure cloud.
But when it came to managing the APIs that are essential to the development of its B2B offering, Cdiscount decided that Azure’s APIM offering would be best suited. Time-saving and easy to implement, this pragmatic choice has one drawback: how can it be integrated with operating tools, particularly monitoring tools?

Zabbix has been Cdiscount’s monitoring tool for years, but it doesn’t provide an Azure metrology solution that meets Peaksys’ needs.

Over the years, the Zabbix platform has been tailored to meet their internal requirements and operating procedures. Some 5,500 hosts and over 100,000 triggers are used to take the pulse of this sprawling information system, which alerts on-call teams and acts as a link with ITSM. Replacing it is not an option, at least not to meet this new need alone.

Discovering SenHub

It was in a Linkedin post that Thibaud Mori discovered SenHub. “We were in the middle of redesigning our Azure tenant, of which monitoring is a part, and we had no solution other than to develop an interface ourselves to integrate Azure into our run. We didn’t have any FTEs to devote to this subject.”

SenHub already offers an out-of-the-box “Azure resources” connector, maintained by a DevOps team dedicated to IT monitoring issues.This iPaaS platform dedicated to IT monitoring has been designed precisely to meet the needs of IT teams wishing to continue capitalizing on their monitoring tool. It not only collects metrics, but also exploits the logs produced by Cloud resources, extracting data and transforming them into metrics that can be used by IT teams.

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Benoît Monnier adds: “Before implementing SenHub, business teams had no tools for monitoring API performance and availability”. Benoît is a technical expert who has been working with Azure for over 8 years. He arrived at Peaksys in 2022 to urbanize the infrastructure and help the in-house teams make the most of the APIM brick; “For me, SenHub meets this strong need to monitor these now very critical infrastructure components, as Peaksys customers consume them directly.”

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A first step to take

When they discovered the solution, Zabbix was still only on the SenHub team’s roadmap. Contacted, they quickly set to work to integrate a functional version enabling the first metrics to be retrieved from APIM resources.

SenHub works in a very simple way. Once the SenHub has been given authorization on the target tenant, the Zabbix platform asks the SenHub to send back metrics for a given Cloud resource. SenHub’s “Azure resources” connector is capable of retrieving metrics for any type of resource.
To make integration as straightforward as possible, when the Azure connector is instantiated with its configuration, SenHub provides a settings file that simply needs to be imported into Zabbix, and monitoring can begin.

Comforted by the vendor’s level of expertise and responsiveness, Cdiscount opted for a long-term partnership, with the aim of going even further, both in terms of the scope to be covered and the depth of the information to be collected.

First successes and second challenge

The data fed back by SenHub immediately provides the business with a satisfactory first level of information. At last, Azure resources are no longer in the monitoring blind spot!
The health of the APIM platform is monitored, and any technical incident can be dealt with by the team alerted by the monitoring tool.

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Going further

However, Peaksys needs to go further. This time, it’s not just a question of ensuring that the “APIM” technical brick is working properly, but also the APIs themselves. This monitoring is essential: infrastructures are very much alive, and changes to APIs are sent by the CI/CD platform on average every 3 minutes. These changes can lead to side effects that need to be detected without delay.

The only way to do this is to use the logs produced by the APIs.
The SenHub team, in close collaboration with Peaksys, set about developing a connector capable of executing queries on these logs and transforming them into metrics. Thus was born the “Azure log analytics” connector.

“Having error-code performance monitoring metrics available in Zabbix for business users is a major gain, with an impact on day-to-day running”, explains Benoît Monnier.

Needs evolve

Peaksys has essentially focused its use of SenHub on the production and pre-production environments of the APIM brick for the time being. But far-reaching changes are on the way.

The Azure tenant is currently being overhauled, with the creation of landing zones and a hub-and-spoke network structure.
The team plans to use SenHub for the same reasons it chose it for the APIM brick. This time, network resources, load balancers and firewalls will be concerned.
The “Azure filtered metrics” connector can be used to cover all these needs, and this time it can be used to customize the collection of metrics, in particular by integrating the notion of dimension.

AI has also become a key issue at Cdiscount. Thibaud Mori explains: Cdiscount is already using OpenAI, and its uses will also increase over time. AI has been present at Cdiscount for several years, but it has become more than an issue, it’s become a priority. Cdiscount is looking to the Azure Cloud for AI, with Open AI and Azure ML instances. These are not yet components integrated into Zabbix, but it’s something we’re working on to achieve the same operating gains as the APIM part.”

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Industrialization continues at Peaksys with SenHub

Peaksys also operates a Kubernetes cluster, managed by Terraform and monitored by Azure monitor. This automation has made it possible to configure almost 600 alerts that could not be handled manually in Zabbix.
The team is now counting on SenHub to integrate this platform with Zabbix, without having to backtrack on the level of automation achieved.

And it’s possible, because SenHub is an API-first platform. The Senhub team was aware from the outset that the platform would be part of a chain of tools that had to work perfectly together. So this approach was a natural choice. SenHub’s configuration is fully controllable by any automation tool.

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Assessment and outlook

Thibaud Mori takes a very positive view of the first 2 years of using SenHub: “We now have full visibility of our Azure bricks and they are integrated into our on-call and operational processes, whereas before our run teams didn’t have access to the information they needed. You could say that Azure is operated on our premises in the same way as our in-house infrastructures. Thanks to this visibility, we can react more quickly to incidents.”

Peaksys could have chosen a monitoring tool better adapted to this new need. There are solutions on the market designed to monitor Cloud resources natively. But changing the monitoring tool was not on the agenda for technical, cost and strategic reasons. Doing it yourself allows you to maintain a high level of control over your infrastructure, but sometimes implies problems of functional coverage.

By implementing SenHub, Peaksys was able to make a technical choice that met its needs without having to replace its legacy monitoring base. The strategic line and technical investments based on Zabbix have been preserved, and the new requirements are perfectly covered by SenHub.

The next step is to support the redesign of the Azure tenant by leveraging SenHub’s ability to integrate into Cdiscount’s Cloud infrastructure automation chain. Peaksys can count on the SenHub team to support it in this essential step.

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SenHub at a glance

Created by IT monitoring experts for their customers, SenHub extends the capabilities of infrastructure monitoring tools by providing rich and powerful connectors to numerous Cloud providers.

Find out more here

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You can have a look at Senhub,
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Simply create your account (no credit card required) and start monitoring your cloud assets with your very own monitoring tool.

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