7–9 November 2016: Conference & Tutorials
9–10 November 2016: Training
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Metrics, gauges, counters, and ratios: Designing and implementing quality metrics

Caskey Dickson (Microsoft)
11:50–12:30 Monday, 7/11/2016
Metrics/monitoring DevOps Auditorium (Ground + Balcony) Audience level: Intermediate
Average rating: ***..
(3.86, 14 ratings)

Prerequisite knowledge

  • Engineering experience writing software with activity counters or other telemetry indicating user behavior (This applies to both UX/frontend developers who are tracking user behavior and backend/server side developers.)

What you'll learn

  • Understand that metrics are a complex set of types
  • Learn how to select among gauges, counters, and ratios to ensure you have the most effective analytics about you service


The only thing worse than no metrics are bad or misleading metrics. Poor metrics distract you from finding root causes of outages and extend downtime. Well-designed metrics enable you to quickly know the state of your service to determine if your systems are healthy. Unfortunately, it isn’t always obvious what counts and how to count it.

Caskey Dickson covers the essential attributes of quality metrics, the kinds of statistics you can derive from them, and the valid ways that different metrics can be combined. Caskey walks you through the steps needed to capture metrics in a useful format while avoiding common pitfalls in metric design and outlines the principles of metric design, types of metrics, and when to use them. Join Caskey to learn about ratios, gauges, and counters; primary, secondary, proxy, and derived metrics; intervals and ordinals; and more.

Photo of Caskey Dickson

Caskey Dickson


Caskey Dickson is a site reliability engineer and software engineer at Microsoft, where he has recently been tasked with inventing the new Azure SRE organization. Previously, he was at Google, where he worked on infrastructure systems, writing and maintaining monitoring services that operate at Google scale. Prior to Google, he was a senior developer at Symantec, wrote software for various Internet startups such as CitySearch, Cars Direct, and WeddingChannel, ran a consulting company for several years, and even spent a half decade teaching undergraduate and graduate computer science at Loyola Marymount University. Caskey has an undergraduate degree in computer science, a master’s degree in systems engineering, and an MBA from Loyola Marymount.