Top Monitoring and Optimization Tools for Docker

By Staff Contributor on November 5, 2019

Docker is a multipurpose tool that can replicate many functions of a virtual machine with less of the hassle. Because Docker operates using virtual software packages (called “containers”) running from the same software kernel, Docker can help you reduce storage overhead while deepening the complex functions of your server. Using Docker can instantly allow for more complex system operability, owing to it’s lightweight containers. As a result, using Docker can save a great deal of time and money.

Despite its advantages, your Docker application might still face a range of inefficiencies and limitations the tool itself has a hard time remediating. It’s important IT admins understand exactly how to manage Docker’s multilayered container system to prevent bottlenecks, maximize CPU function, and ensure Docker is living up to its potential.

Wondering how to monitor Docker performance? Consider the following tools, specifically intended to track Docker metrics and optimize the platform. Such tools can not only monitor your containers for inefficiencies, but support your efforts to extend and improve their function. Overall, there are many benefits in using Docker application monitoring tools, from enhancing a container’s image quality to managing Docker log data and achieving multiple-container analytics.

1. AppOptics

AppOptics application monitoring

SolarWinds® AppOptics™ is a comprehensive application and infrastructure monitor offering Docker infrastructure monitoring integration. Without a tool like AppOptics, it can be difficult to measure the storage statistics in Docker containers, since Docker itself doesn’t come equipped with bottleneck remediation tools or data flow monitoring devices. AppOptics offers a built-in Docker plugin to capture runtime metrics from containers and the host machine, giving you continuous insight into resource use and performance.

To provide these insights, the AppOptics tool is able to pull a wide range of default metrics, including memory, CPU, container, and network stats. Admins can also choose to monitor custom metrics and automatically modify Docker images. All this information is integrated into the AppOptic visual display for a quick data overview and easier troubleshooting.

2. Prometheus

Prometheus Docker monitoring

Prometheus is an open-source program offering comprehensive Docker monitoring along with broader network monitoring tools. It can be useful for basic Docker monitoring, especially for IT specialists with more experience in open source setup. You can configure an exporter for third-party data, including data from Docker containers, to help ensure you get the metrics needed.

Once integrated with Docker, Prometheus offers a visual interface complete with graphical displays and a detailed UI dashboard. It comes with a built-in expression browser and integration with Grafana. You can also configure precise alerting capabilities based on PromQL.

3. cAdvisor


cAdvisor is a Google-made product designed with a narrow focus on Docker containers. It includes helpful visualizations and basic data analysis for automated Docker health diagnosis. As an open source tool, cAdvisor requires manual configuration for its individual features, like graphical display and resource aggregators. If you have the patience for an open source setup process, cAdvisor offers a significant range of monitoring tools, including disk space stats, CPU usage, memory, and network function. It is important to note cAdvisor isn’t ideal for complex infrastructure monitoring, since it’s designed to assess one container at a time.

4. Docker API

Docker API Docker monitoring

Docker API is a basic Docker monitor provided for free by Docker. As the name suggests, it’s an API with basic monitoring services, pre-built into the Docker engine. Docker API doesn’t provide alerts or complex multi-container analytics, but does offer statistics on a comprehensive range of container functions such as network function, disk space, CPU usage, and memory.

In addition to more traditional Docker monitoring features, Docker API can keep tabs on the volume of data being processed in your container, which can yield important information about the presence of bottlenecks or other capacity strains. Although Docker API doesn’t provide an alert system, its live analytics allow you to quickly detect inefficiencies in container usage.

5. Papertrail

Papertrail docker monitoring

SolarWinds Papertrail™ offers a detailed log monitor for Docker systems that can operate on more than one container at once. Papertrail is an enterprise-grade tool with preconfigured visuals and extensive customer service support. Because it’s a highly automated closed-source tool, setup is much easier than other Docker optimizers that might require manual configuration.

There isn’t just one use for Papertrail—it’s a broadly applicable log manager with the capability to aggregate logs from dozens of different sources. Papertrail has the capability to aggregate logs from syslog, text log files, AWS, MySQL, cloud hosting, Apache, routers, firewalls—and, of course, Docker.

With such a wide range of log aggregation options, Papertrail can be an extremely useful tool for optimizing Docker log data. Without an aggregator, it’s difficult to gain a comprehensive overview of Docker processes and events. If your system uses Docker, Papertrail can automate your infrastructure monitoring with its streamlined, unified approach to log search, analysis, and reporting. The tool also provides log alerts to help[ ensure 24/7 visibility in your containerized apps.

6. watchtower


As an open source Docker optimization tool, watchtower offers a robust optimization plan. Watchtower is focused on improving Docker containers to help ensure they are as up-to-date and streamlined as possible. Watchtower offers automatic updates for your containers, detects undesired changes to your container’s images, and responds to mistakes in images by restarting skewed containers using their original image.

A useful feature of watchtower is it’s set up just like a Docker container. So, even though watchtower is a manually-configurable open source tool, anyone versed in Docker container setup will have no trouble setting up this program.

7. rocker


This open source program is a relatively straightforward tool you can install onto your machine without need for complex manual configuration. Rocker doesn’t offer a graphical interface or interactive updates, but does allow for modification and optimization of Docker containers to improve some of the limitations faced by Docker users. Rocker was designed by Docker users who found the image size and build speed were insufficient for their needs. Rocker’s website offers helpful instructions for installation and container modification options.

Related Posts