What Is Topology?
Allyson Barr· 5 min read
Topology is a multilayered map showing how everything in the IT environment is related. It's similar to Google Maps, which gives you a bird's eye view into an area and how everything is interconnected. Also, in Google Maps, you can see how traffic is flowing and which intersections may be causing bottlenecks.
A view into topology allows similar visibility. You can see how components of an IT system are laid out to interact with each other. The components, like towns in Google Maps, are connected to each other, and you can see the various connections—similar to roads, streets, and highways—that link everything together.
One of the simplest topologies is point-to-point, where you have computer A directly connected to computer B. You can also have a point-to-point topology where two local area networks (LANs), network A and network B, are connected.
If you throw switches into the mix, you can give what is a pretty simple topology a brain. The switch decides which computer handles what and when. This is called a star topology, with the switch sending out messages like the sun sending out rays of light.
Topology also applies to applications, containers, and databases. Because they are often interdependent elements of a service, the ways in which different components interact can have a significant effect on the end user’s experience. In addition, because topologies change all the time, it can be tough to keep up. If you've ever used Google Maps after a street has been changed but Maps hasn't been updated, you know how frustrating and confusing it can be.
Similarly, unless your topology is mapped out dynamically to reflect current changes, you're likely to find yourself lost as you try to pinpoint issues or engineer new efficiencies.
Challenges to Achieving a Comprehensive Cross-Domain Topology
With cross-domain topology, you can integrate several pieces of your hybrid, dynamic environment and therefore gain visibility into why and how issues arise. Not surprisingly, this comes with some challenges.
Information Lives in Silos
Silos can be the enemy of an effective topology. Since the advent of computing, information has been kept in silos, categorized according to the process that produced it or the app that used it. But in a cross-domain topology, information has to be shared between various resources. Otherwise, the end result will be incomplete, inaccurate, or produced inefficiently.
In the modern business environment, the silo situation is exacerbated, particularly because there are so many tools for monitoring and understanding the environment. While this type of monitoring produces useful data, it's often limited to a small part of the environment and not integrated with data from the rest of the system. What results are sets of disconnected data. The lack of integration makes it hard to see how different systems impact each other.
It’s Constantly Changing
Humans are creatures of habit, and habit doesn’t like change. If you rely on humans to update your topology, you will fail. Topology needs to be agile, reflexive, and even proactive in the way it solves business problems.
Next-Level Topology and Relationship-Based Observability with StackState
StackState gives you tools that allow you to monitor your processes in real time, enabling you to pinpoint exactly where and when an issue arose. StackState’s time-traveling topology can bring you back in time to the exact moment when an issue originated, allowing you to troubleshoot in moments and discover novel ways of improving the experience of the end user.
StackState’s relationship-based observability is built on an understanding of how the different elements of your topology—containers, databases, applications, switches, endpoints, and more—work together. The platform can trace the ripple effect of an issue back to the original pebble, enabling you to make changes, if necessary, to your topology to improve usability and performance. You can also use StackState to look into the future, predicting the impact of performance anomalies on your business, from how applications function to your revenue stream.
Allyson Barr· 5 min read