Enhancing observability by modernizing an application

Modernizing legacy applications is a strategic imperative for businesses seeking to stay competitive in today's rapidly evolving digital landscape. However, modernization isn't just about updating the user interface or migrating to the cloud. It's also about improving observability – the ability to gain insights into application performance, diagnose issues, and make informed decisions.

In this blog post, we'll explore how modernizing a legacy application with Hasura significantly enhances observability, leading to improved performance, increased agility, and better user experiences.

The observability challenge in legacy applications

Legacy applications often pose challenges when it comes to observability. These challenges include:

  • Complex architecture: Legacy applications are typically built using monolithic architectures, making it difficult to isolate issues and understand the impact of changes.
  • Limited insights: Inadequate logging, tracing, and monitoring capabilities hinder the ability to gain deep insights into application behavior.
  • Opaque data flow: Inadequate logging and tracing result in limited visibility into data flow and interactions.
  • Silos of data: Data is often scattered across various databases and systems, making it hard to correlate and analyze data effectively.
  • Manual debugging: Traditional debugging methods in legacy applications are time-consuming and error-prone, slowing down issue resolution.

Data Modernization with Hasura

Hasura, with its powerful GraphQL engine, is a game-changer for modernizing legacy applications. By transforming a legacy monolith into a set of microservices with Hasura, organizations can overcome many observability challenges, including these top five:

  1. Granular observability: Hasura allows you to expose granular GraphQL APIs for each microservice, enabling detailed monitoring and tracing of API requests. This granularity provides insights into individual service performance and helps pinpoint bottlenecks.
  2. Real-time monitoring: Hasura's real-time capabilities empower you to monitor changes in your data in real time. You can set up real-time subscriptions to track data modifications, enabling proactive monitoring and reducing the time between detecting and addressing issues.
  3. Centralized data access: By unifying data access through GraphQL, Hasura eliminates data silos and provides a single endpoint for querying and monitoring data. This centralization simplifies observability and enhances data analysis.
  4. Dynamic tracing: Hasura's support for distributed tracing allows you to track the flow of requests across microservices. This dynamic tracing provides a holistic view of request paths and helps identify performance bottlenecks and latency issues.
  5. Automated debugging: Hasura's powerful debugging capabilities, including error tracking and detailed query analysis, accelerate issue resolution. Developers can identify problematic queries and optimize them for improved performance.

Observability options in Hasura

Hasura offers an array of default observability options to jumpstart your journey:

  • Stats overview: Gain a holistic overview of project health and performance metrics.
  • Errors: Real-time error tracking to diagnose and resolve issues promptly.
  • Usage summaries: Insights into API usage patterns for informed decision-making.
  • Operations: Monitor and analyze API operations to optimize performance.
  • Websockets: Real-time tracking of data flows through Websockets.
  • Subscription workers: Monitor subscription worker performance for seamless data streaming.
  • Distributed tracing: Trace requests across microservices for performance insights.
  • Query tags: Categorize queries for enhanced analysis and optimization.

Hasura's observability integrations

Hasura integrates seamlessly with observability platforms like Prometheus, Grafana, and Jaeger. This compatibility enhances existing observability ecosystems, providing deeper insights into performance metrics, real-time monitoring, and tracing.

Use case: Real-time analytics dashboard

Consider a legacy e-commerce application struggling with performance bottlenecks during peak shopping seasons. Modernizing with Hasura enables real-time monitoring of user interactions, transaction flows, and database queries.

By integrating with Grafana and Prometheus, developers create custom dashboards displaying response times, user activity, and database latency. This empowers them to proactively optimize resources, ensuring a seamless shopping experience.

Hasura Enterprise: Elevated observability

For Hasura Enterprise deployments, observability takes center stage:

  • Monitoring for containers and pods: Self-hosted Hasura instances benefit from enabling monitoring, ensuring comprehensive insights into resource usage.
  • Logs and metrics via Prometheus: Integration with Prometheus amplifies observability, offering granular insights into performance metrics.

Database observability with Hasura

Modernization extends to the database observability:

  • Historical query performance: Dive into historical query performance data to optimize database interactions and ensure efficient data retrieval.
  • Host-level metrics: Monitor host-level metrics for efficient database operations.

Use case: Microservices performance optimization

A legacy airline booking system faces challenges due to slow database queries. Modernizing with Hasura transforms the application into microservices with dedicated GraphQL APIs.

By implementing distributed tracing with Jaeger, developers track each step of a booking transaction. Slow database queries are identified, enabling the team to optimize them and improve overall system performance.

Enhanced database observability with Hasura

Hasura enhances database observability through strategic steps:

  1. Enabling observability agents: Activating observability agents offers real-time insights into query performance.
  2. Query tags: Leveraging query tags along with native database monitoring tools like pganalyze enables deep analysis of query performance and database health.

Use case: Healthcare data monitoring

A legacy healthcare application grapples with data inconsistencies. Modernization with Hasura transforms the application into microservices, each serving a specific healthcare function.

By implementing Hasura's query tags and integrating them with pganalyze, the development team identifies slow queries affecting patient data retrieval. Query optimizations lead to a faster and more reliable healthcare system.

Proactive alerting and alert propagation

Observability culminates in proactive alerting:

  1. Configuring alerts: Set up alerts for critical metrics and events, ensuring prompt notifications for immediate action.
  2. Alert propagation: Ensure alerts reach the appropriate teams for swift resolution and proactive maintenance.

Also, Hasura has instrumented all API queries, mutation, and subscriptions with the OpenTelemetry format, thus allowing you to export Traces and Metrics.

Step-by-step modernization for enhanced observability

If you want to modernize and enhance the observability of your application, use these steps as your implementation guide:

  1. Assessment and planning: Evaluate the legacy application's architecture, identifying potential microservices and data sources. Plan the migration to microservices with Hasura.
  2. Data modeling: Design the GraphQL schema using Hasura's schema stitching feature to represent the microservices' data and relationships.
  3. Migration: Migrate the existing application logic to microservices, creating GraphQL APIs using Hasura's declarative data modeling.
  4. Real-time integration: Implement real-time subscriptions using Hasura, enabling instant notifications of data changes.
  5. Monitoring and tracing: Set up monitoring tools like Prometheus and Grafana, and enable Hasura's tracing features to track API requests and identify performance issues.
  6. Testing and validation: Thoroughly test the modernized application, analyzing observability metrics to ensure performance improvements.
  7. Iterative enhancement: Continuously monitor the application, analyze observability data, and optimize queries and services for optimal performance.


Enhancing observability in legacy applications is a critical step toward maintaining a competitive edge in today's dynamic digital landscape. Modernizing with Hasura enables organizations to overcome the challenges of legacy observability, offering granular insights, real-time monitoring, and efficient debugging.

By following a strategic approach to modernization, businesses can transform their legacy applications into agile, observable, and high-performance systems that deliver exceptional user experiences.

Hasura's transformative capabilities, combined with observability best practices, empower developers and organizations to not only modernize legacy applications but also elevate their observability to new heights. The result is a future-ready application ecosystem that's highly responsive, resilient, and primed for ongoing success.

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22 Aug, 2023
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