Mar
17
2021
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New Relic expands its AIOps services

In recent years, the publicly traded observability service New Relic started adding more machine learning-based tools to its platform for AI-assisted incident response when things don’t quite go as planned. Today, it is expanding this feature set with the launch of a number of new capabilities for what it calls its “New Relic Applied Intelligence Service.”

This expansion includes an anomaly detection service that is even available for free users, the ability to group alerts from multiple tools when the models think it’s a single issue that is triggering all of these alerts and new ML-based root cause analysis to help eliminate some of the guesswork when problems occur. Also new (and in public beta) is New Relic’s ability to detect patterns and outliers in log data that is stored in the company’s data platform.

The main idea here, New Relic’s director of product marketing Michael Olson told me, is to make it easier for companies of all sizes to reap the benefits of AI-enhanced ops.

Image Credits: New Relic

“It’s been about a year since we introduced our first set of AIops capabilities with New Relic Applied Intelligence to the market,” he said. “During that time, we’ve seen significant growth in adoption of AIops capabilities through New Relic. But one of the things that we’ve heard from organizations that have yet to foray into adopting AIops capabilities as part of their incident response practice is that they often find that things like steep learning curves and long implementation and training times — and sometimes lack of confidence, or knowledge of AI and machine learning — often stand in the way.”

The new platform should be able to detect emerging problems in real time — without the team having to pre-configure alerts. And when it does so, it’ll smartly group all of the alerts from New Relic and other tools together to cut down on the alert noise and let engineers focus on the incident.

“Instead of an alert storm when a problem occurs across multiple tools, engineers get one actionable issue with alerts automatically grouped based on things like time and frequency, based on the context that they can read in the alert messages. And then now with this launch, we’re also able to look at relationship data across your systems to intelligently group and correlate alerts,” Olson explained.

Image Credits: New Relic

Maybe the highlight for the ops teams that will use these new features, though, is New Relic’s ability to pinpoint the probable root cause of a problem. As Guy Fighel, the general manager of applied intelligence and vice president of product engineering at New Relic, told me, the idea here is not to replace humans but to augment teams.

“We provide a non-black-box experience for teams to craft the decisions and correlation and logic based on their own knowledge and infuse the system with their own knowledge,” Fighel noted. “So you can get very specific based on your environment and needs. And so because of that and because we see a lot of data coming from different tools — all going into New Relic One as the data platform — our probable root cause is very accurate. Having said that, it is still a probable root cause. So although we are opinionated about it, we will never tell you, ‘hey, go fix that, because we’re 100% sure that’s the case.’ You’re the human, you’re in control.”

The AI system also asks users for feedback, so that the model gets refined with every new incident, too.

Fighel tells me that New Relic’s tools rely on a variety of statistical analysis methods and machine learning models. Some of those are unique to individual users while others are used across the company’s user base. He also stressed that all of the engineers who worked on this project have a background in site reliability engineering — so they are intimately familiar with the problems in this space.

With today’s launch, New Relic is also adding a new integration with PagerDuty and other incident management tools so that the state of a given issue can be synchronized bi-directionally between them.

“We want to meet our customers where they are and really be data source agnostic and enable customers to pull in data from any source, where we can then enrich that data, reduce noise and ultimately help our customers solve problems faster,” said Olson.


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Feb
17
2021
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Microsoft’s Dapr open-source project to help developers build cloud-native apps hits 1.0

Dapr, the Microsoft-incubated open-source project that aims to make it easier for developers to build event-driven, distributed cloud-native applications, hit its 1.0 milestone today, signifying the project’s readiness for production use cases. Microsoft launched the Distributed Application Runtime (that’s what “Dapr” stand for) back in October 2019. Since then, the project released 14 updates and the community launched integrations with virtually all major cloud providers, including Azure, AWS, Alibaba and Google Cloud.

The goal for Dapr, Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich told me, was to democratize cloud-native development for enterprise developers.

“When we go look at what enterprise developers are being asked to do — they’ve traditionally been doing client, server, web plus database-type applications,” he noted. “But now, we’re asking them to containerize and to create microservices that scale out and have no-downtime updates — and they’ve got to integrate with all these cloud services. And many enterprises are, on top of that, asking them to make apps that are portable across on-premises environments as well as cloud environments or even be able to move between clouds. So just tons of complexity has been thrown at them that’s not specific to or not relevant to the business problems they’re trying to solve.”

And a lot of the development involves re-inventing the wheel to make their applications reliably talk to various other services. The idea behind Dapr is to give developers a single runtime that, out of the box, provides the tools that developers need to build event-driven microservices. Among other things, Dapr provides various building blocks for things like service-to-service communications, state management, pub/sub and secrets management.

Image Credits: Dapr

“The goal with Dapr was: let’s take care of all of the mundane work of writing one of these cloud-native distributed, highly available, scalable, secure cloud services, away from the developers so they can focus on their code. And actually, we took lessons from serverless, from Functions-as-a-Service where with, for example Azure Functions, it’s event-driven, they focus on their business logic and then things like the bindings that come with Azure Functions take care of connecting with other services,” Russinovich said.

He also noted that another goal here was to do away with language-specific models and to create a programming model that can be leveraged from any language. Enterprises, after all, tend to use multiple languages in their existing code, and a lot of them are now looking at how to best modernize their existing applications — without throwing out all of their current code.

As Russinovich noted, the project now has more than 700 contributors outside of Microsoft (though the core commuters are largely from Microsoft) and a number of businesses started using it in production before the 1.0 release. One of the larger cloud providers that is already using it is Alibaba. “Alibaba Cloud has really fallen in love with Dapr and is leveraging it heavily,” he said. Other organizations that have contributed to Dapr include HashiCorp and early users like ZEISS, Ignition Group and New Relic.

And while it may seem a bit odd for a cloud provider to be happy that its competitors are using its innovations already, Russinovich noted that this was exactly the plan and that the team hopes to bring Dapr into a foundation soon.

“We’ve been on a path to open governance for several months and the goal is to get this into a foundation. […] The goal is opening this up. It’s not a Microsoft thing. It’s an industry thing,” he said — but he wasn’t quite ready to say to which foundation the team is talking.

 

Dec
10
2020
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New Relic acquires Kubernetes observability platform Pixie Labs

Two months ago, Kubernetes observability platform Pixie Labs launched into general availability and announced a $9.15 million Series A funding round led by Benchmark, with participation from GV. Today, the company is announcing its acquisition by New Relic, the publicly traded monitoring and observability platform.

The Pixie Labs brand and product will remain in place and allow New Relic to extend its platform to the edge. From the outset, the Pixie Labs team designed the service to focus on providing observability for cloud-native workloads running on Kubernetes clusters. And while most similar tools focus on operators and IT teams, Pixie set out to build a tool that developers would want to use. Using eBPF, a relatively new way to extend the Linux kernel, the Pixie platform can collect data right at the source and without the need for an agent.

At the core of the Pixie developer experience are what the company calls “Pixie scripts.” These allow developers to write their debugging workflows, though the company also provides its own set of these and anybody in the community can contribute and share them as well. The idea here is to capture a lot of the informal knowledge around how to best debug a given service.

“We’re super excited to bring these companies together because we share a mission to make observability ubiquitous through simplicity,” Bill Staples, New Relic’s chief product officer, told me. “[…] According to IDC, there are 28 million developers in the world. And yet only a fraction of them really practice observability today. We believe it should be easier for every developer to take a data-driven approach to building software and Kubernetes is really the heart of where developers are going to build software.”

It’s worth noting that New Relic already had a solution for monitoring Kubernetes clusters. Pixie, however, will allow it to go significantly deeper into this space. “Pixie goes much, much further in terms of offering on-the-edge, live debugging use cases, the ability to run those Pixie scripts. So it’s an extension on top of the cloud-based monitoring solution we offer today,” Staples said.

The plan is to build integrations into New Relic into Pixie’s platform and to integrate Pixie use cases with New Relic One as well.

Currently, about 300 teams use the Pixie platform. These range from small startups to large enterprises and, as Staples and Pixie co-founder Zain Asgar noted, there was already a substantial overlap between the two customer bases.

As for why he decided to sell, Asgar — a former Google engineer working on Google AI and adjunct professor at Stanford — told me that it was all about accelerating Pixie’s vision.

“We started Pixie to create this magical developer experience that really allows us to redefine how application developers monitor, secure and manage their applications,” Asgar said. “One of the cool things is when we actually met the team at New Relic and we got together with Bill and [New Relic founder and CEO] Lew [Cirne], we realized that there was almost a complete alignment around this vision […], and by joining forces with New Relic, we can actually accelerate this entire process.”

New Relic has recently done a lot of work on open-sourcing various parts of its platform, including its agents, data exporters and some of its tooling. Pixie, too, will now open-source its core tools. Open-sourcing the service was always on the company’s road map, but the acquisition now allows it to push this timeline forward.

“We’ll be taking Pixie and making it available to the community through open source, as well as continuing to build out the commercial enterprise-grade offering for it that extends the New Relic One platform,” Staples explained. Asgar added that it’ll take the company a little while to release the code, though.

“The same fundamental quality that got us so excited about Lew as an EIR in 2007, got us excited about Zain and Ishan in 2017 — absolutely brilliant engineers, who know how to build products developers love,” Benchmark Ventures General Partner Eric Vishria told me. “New Relic has always captured developer delight. For all its power, Kubernetes completely upends the monitoring paradigm we’ve lived with for decades. Pixie brings the same easy to use, quick time to value, no-nonsense approach to the Kubernetes world as New Relic brought to APM. It is a match made in heaven.”

Jul
30
2020
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New Relic is changing its pricing model to encourage broader monitoring

In the monitoring world, typically when you spin up a new instance, you pay a fee to monitor it. If you are particularly active in any given month, that can result in a hefty bill at the end of the month. That leads to limiting what you choose to monitor, to control costs. New Relic wants to change that, and today it announced it’s moving to a model where customers pay by the user instead, with a smaller, less costly data component.

The company is also simplifying its product set with the goal of encouraging customers to instrument everything instead of deciding what to monitor and what to leave out to control cost. “What we’re announcing is a completely reimagined platform. We’re simplifying our products from 11 to three, and we eliminate those barriers to standardizing on a single source of truth,” New Relic founder and CEO Lew Cirne told TechCrunch.

The way the company can afford to make this switch is by exposing the underlying telemetry database that it created to run its own products. By taking advantage of this database to track all of your APM, tracing and metric data all in one place, Cirne says they can control costs much better and pass those savings onto customers, whose bills should be much smaller based on this new pricing model, he said.

“Prior to this, there has not been any technology that’s good at gathering all of those data types into a single database, what we would call a telemetry database. And we actually created one ourselves and it’s the backbone of all of our products. [Up until now], we haven’t really exposed it to our customers, so that they can put all their data into it,” he said.

New Relic Telemetry Data. Image Credit: New Relic

The company is distilling the product set into three main categories. The first is the Telemetry Data Platform, which offers a single way to gather any events, logs or traces, whether from their agents or someone else’s or even open-source monitoring tools like Prometheus.

The second product is called Full-stack Observability. This includes all of their previous products, which were sold separately, such as APM, mobility, infrastructure and logging. Finally they are offering an intelligence layer called New Relic AI.

Cirne says by simplifying the product set and changing the way they bill, it will save customers money through the efficiencies they have uncovered. In practice, he says, pricing will consist of a combination of users and data, but he believes their approach will result in much lower bills and more cost certainty for customers.

“It’ll vary by customer, so this is just a rough estimate, but imagine that the typical New Relic bill under this model will be a 70% per user charge and 30% data charge, roughly, but so if that’s the case, and if you look at our competitors, 100% of the bill is data,” he said.

The new approach is available starting today. Companies can try it with a 100 GB single-user account.

Mar
31
2020
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Amid shift to remote work, application performance monitoring is IT’s big moment

In recent weeks, millions have started working from home, putting unheard-of pressure on services like video conferencing, online learning, food delivery and e-commerce platforms. While some verticals have seen a marked reduction in traffic, others are being asked to scale to new heights.

Services that were previously nice to have are now necessities, but how do organizations track pressure points that can add up to a critical failure? There is actually a whole class of software to help in this regard.

Monitoring tools like Datadog, New Relic and Elastic are designed to help companies understand what’s happening inside their key systems and warn them when things may be going sideways. That’s absolutely essential as these services are being asked to handle unprecedented levels of activity.

At a time when performance is critical, application performance monitoring (APM) tools are helping companies stay up and running. They also help track root causes should the worst case happen and they go down, with the goal of getting going again as quickly as possible.

We spoke to a few monitoring vendor CEOs to understand better how they are helping customers navigate this demand and keep systems up and running when we need them most.

IT’s big moment

Nov
01
2019
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New Relic snags early-stage serverless monitoring startup IOpipe

As we move from a world dominated by virtual machines to one of serverless, it changes the nature of monitoring, and vendors like New Relic certainly recognize that. This morning the company announced it was acquiring IOpipe, a Seattle-based early-stage serverless monitoring startup, to help beef up its serverless monitoring chops. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

New Relic gets what it calls “key members of the team,” which at least includes co-founders Erica Windisch and Adam Johnson, along with the IOpipe technology. The new employees will be moving from Seattle to New Relic’s Portland offices.

“This deal allows us to make immediate investments in onboarding that will make it faster and simpler for customers to integrate their [serverless] functions with New Relic and get the most out of our instrumentation and UIs that allow fast troubleshooting of complex issues across the entire application stack,” the company wrote in a blog post announcing the acquisition.

It adds that initially the IOpipe team will concentrate on moving AWS Lambda features like Lambda Layers into the New Relic platform. Over time, the team will work on increasing support for serverless function monitoring. New Relic is hoping by combining the IOpipe team and solution with its own, it can speed up its serverless monitoring chops.

Eliot Durbin, an investor at Bold Start, which led the company’s $2 million seed round in 2018, says both companies win with this deal. “New Relic has a huge commitment to serverless, so the opportunity to bring IOpipe’s product to their market-leading customer base was attractive to everyone involved,” he told TechCrunch.

The startup has been helping monitor serverless operations for companies running AWS Lambda. It’s important to understand that serverless doesn’t mean there are no servers, but the cloud vendor — in this case AWS — provides the exact resources to complete an operation, and nothing more.

IOpipe co-founders Erica Windisch and Adam Johnson

Photo: New Relic

Once the operation ends, the resources can simply get redeployed elsewhere. That makes building monitoring tools for such ephemeral resources a huge challenge. New Relic has also been working on the problem and released New Relic Serverless for AWS Lambda earlier this year.

As TechCrunch’s Frederic Lardinois pointed out in his article about the company’s $2.5 million seed round in 2017, Windisch and Johnson bring impressive credentials:

IOpipe co-founders Adam Johnson (CEO) and Erica Windisch (CTO), too, are highly experienced in this space, having previously worked at companies like Docker and Midokura (Adam was the first hire at Midokura and Erica founded Docker’s security team). They recently graduated from the Techstars NY program.

IOpipe was founded in 2015, which was just around the time that Amazon was announcing Lambda. At the time of the seed round the company had eight employees. According to PitchBook data, it currently has between 1 and 10 employees, and has raised $7.07 million since its inception.

New Relic was founded in 2008 and has raised more than $214 million, according to Crunchbase, before going public in 2014. Its stock price was $65.42 at the time of publication, up $1.40.

Sep
19
2019
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New Relic launches platform for developers to build custom apps

When Salesforce launched Force.com in 2007 as a place for developers to build applications on top of Salesforce, it was a pivotal moment for the concept of SaaS platforms. Since then, it’s been said that every enterprise SaaS company wants to be a platform play. Today, New Relic achieved that goal when it announced the New Relic One Observability Platform at the company’s FutureStack conference in New York City.

Company co-founder and CEO Lew Cirne explained that in order to be a platform, by definition, it is something that other people can build software on. “What we are shipping is a set of capabilities to enable our customers and partners to build their own observability applications on the very same platform that we’ve built our product,” Cirne told TechCrunch.

He sees these third-party developers building applications to enable additional innovations on top of the New Relic platform that perhaps New Relic’s engineers couldn’t because of time and resource constraints. “There are so many use cases for this data, far more than the engineers that we have at our company could ever do, but a community of people who can do this together can totally unlock the power of this data,” Cirne said.

Like many platform companies, New Relic found that as it expanded its own offering, it required a platform for its developers to access a common set of services to build these additional offerings, and as they built out this platform, it made it possible to open it up to external developers to access the same set of services as the New Relic engineering team.

“What we have is metrics, logs, events and traces coming from our customers’ digital software. So they have access to all that data in real time to build applications, measure the health of their digital business and build applications on top of that. Just as Force.com was the thing that really transformed Salesforce as a company into being a strategic vendor, we think the same thing will happen for us with what we’re offering,” he said.

As a proof point for the platform, the company is releasing a dozen open-source tools built on top of the New Relic platform today in conjunction with the announcement. One example is an application to help identify where companies could be over-spending on their AWS bills. “We’re actually finding 30-40% savings opportunities for them where they’re provisioning larger servers than they need for the workload. Based on the data that we’re analyzing, we’re recommending what the right size deployment should be,” Cirne said.

The New Relic One Observability Platform and the 12 free apps will be available starting today.

May
14
2019
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New Relic takes a measured approach to platform overhaul

New Relic, the SaaS applications performance management platform, announced a major update to that platform today. Instead of ripping off the Band-Aid all at once, the company has decided to take a more measured approach to change, giving customers a chance to ease into it.

The new platform, called New Relic One, has been designed to replace the original platform, which was developed over the previous decade. The company says that by moving slowly to the new platform, customers will be able to take advantage of new features that it couldn’t have built on the old platform without having to learn a new a way of working.

Jim Gochee, chief product officer at New Relic, says that all of the existing tooling and functionality will eventually be ported over or reimagined on top of New Relic One. “What it is under the covers for us is a new technology stack and a new platform for our offering. We are still running our existing technology stack with our existing products. So we’re [essentially] running two platforms in two stacks in parallel, but all of the new stuff is going to be built on New Relic One over time,” he explained.

By redesigning the existing platform from scratch, New Relic created a new, modern, more extensible model that will allow it to plug in new functionality more easily over time, and eventually even allow customers to do the same thing. For now, it’s about changing what’s happening under the hood and providing a new user experience in a redesigned user interface.

“New Relic One is very pluggable and extensible, which makes it easier for our own teams to build on, and to extend and expand, and also down the road we will eventually get to the point where partners and customers will be able to extend our UI themselves, which is something that we’re very excited about,” he said.

Among the new features is support for AWS Lambda, the company’s serverless offering. It also enables users to search across multiple accounts. It’s not unusual for customers to be monitoring multiple accounts and sub-accounts. With New Relic One, customers can now search across these accounts and find if issues have cascaded more easily.

In a blog post introducing the new platform, CEO Lew Cirne acknowledged the growing complexity of the monitoring landscape, something the new platform has been specifically designed to address.

“Unlike today’s fragmented tools that can deliver a bag of charts and metrics with a bunch of seemingly unrelated numbers, New Relic One is designed to cut through complexity, provide context, and let you see across artificial organizational boundaries so you can quickly find and fix problems,” Cirne wrote.

Nancy Gohring, a senior analyst at 451 Research, says this flexibility is a key strength of the new approach. “One of the most important updates here is the reworked data model which allows New Relic to offer customers more flexibility in how they can search the operations data they’re collecting and build dashboards. This kind of flexibility is more important in modern app environments that are more complex and dynamic than they used to be. Everyone’s environment is different and digging for the cause of a problem is more complicated than it used to be,” Gohring told TechCrunch. The new ability to search across accounts should help with that.

She concedes that having parallel platforms is not ideal, but sees why the company chose to go this route. “Having two UIs is never great. But the approach New Relic is taking lets them get something totally new out all at once, rather than spending time gradually introducing it. It will let customers try out the new stuff at their own pace,” she said.

New Relic One goes live tomorrow, and will be available at no additional cost to New Relic subscribers.

Oct
11
2018
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New Relic acquires Belgium’s CoScale to expand its monitoring of Kubernetes containers and microservices

New Relic, a provider of analytics and monitoring around a company’s internal and external facing apps and services to help optimise their performance, is making an acquisition today as it continues to expand a newer area of its business, containers and microservices. The company has announced that it has purchased CoScale, a provider of monitoring for containers and microservices, with a specific focus on Kubernetes.

Terms of the deal — which will include the team and technology — are not being disclosed, as it will not have a material impact on New Relic’s earnings. The larger company is traded on the NYSE (ticker: NEWR) and has been a strong upswing in the last two years, and its current market cap its around $4.6 billion.

Originally founded in Belgium, CoScale had raised $6.4 million and was last valued at $7.9 million, according to PitchBook. Investors included Microsoft (via its ScaleUp accelerator), PMV and the Qbic Fund, two Belgian investors.

We are thrilled to bring CoScale’s knowledge and deeply technical team into the New Relic fold,” noted Ramon Guiu, senior director of product management at New Relic. “The CoScale team members joining New Relic will focus on incorporating CoScale’s capabilities and experience into continuing innovations for the New Relic platform.”

The deal underscores how New Relic has had to shift in the last couple of years: when the company was founded years ago, application monitoring was a relatively easy task, with the web and a specified number of services the limit of what needed attention. But services, apps and functions have become increasingly complex and now tap data stored across a range of locations and devices, and processing everything generates a lot of computing demand.

New Relic first added container and microservices monitoring to its stack in 2016. That’s a somewhat late arrival to the area, New Relic CEO Lew Cirne believes that it’s just at the right time, dovetailing New Relic’s changes with wider shifts in the market.

‘We think those changes have actually been an opportunity for us to further differentiate and further strengthen our thesis that the New Relic  way is really the most logical way to address this,” he told my colleague Ron Miller last month. As Ron wrote, Cirne’s take is that New Relic has always been centered on the code, as opposed to the infrastructure where it’s delivered, and that has helped it make adjustments as the delivery mechanisms have changed.

New Relic already provides monitoring for Kubernetes, Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE), Amazon Elastic Container Service for Kubernetes (EKS), Microsoft Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS), and RedHat Openshift, and the idea is that CoScale will help it ramp up across that range, while also adding Docker and OpenShift to the mix, as well as offering new services down the line to serve the DevOps community.

“The visions of New Relic and CoScale are remarkably well aligned, so our team is excited that we get to join New Relic and continue on our journey of helping companies innovate faster by providing them visibility into the performance of their modern architectures,” said CoScale CEO Stijn Polfliet, in a statement. “[Co-founder] Fred [Ryckbosch] and I feel like this is such an exciting space and time to be in this market, and we’re thrilled to be teaming up with the amazing team at New Relic, the leader in monitoring modern applications and infrastructure.”

Sep
26
2018
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Instana raises $30M for its application performance monitoring service

Instana, an application performance monitoring (APM) service with a focus on modern containerized services, today announced that it has raised a $30 million Series C funding round. The round was led by Meritech Capital, with participation from existing investor Accel. This brings Instana’s total funding to $57 million.

The company, which counts the likes of Audi, Edmunds.com, Yahoo Japan and Franklin American Mortgage as its customers, considers itself an APM 3.0 player. It argues that its solution is far lighter than those of older players like New Relic and AppDynamics (which sold to Cisco hours before it was supposed to go public). Those solutions, the company says, weren’t built for modern software organizations (though I’m sure they would dispute that).

What really makes Instana stand out is its ability to automatically discover and monitor the ever-changing infrastructure that makes up a modern application, especially when it comes to running containerized microservices. The service automatically catalogs all of the endpoints that make up a service’s infrastructure, and then monitors them. It’s also worth noting that the company says that it can offer far more granular metrics that its competitors.

Instana says that its annual sales grew 600 percent over the course of the last year, something that surely attracted this new investment.

“Monitoring containerized microservice applications has become a critical requirement for today’s digital enterprises,” said Meritech Capital’s Alex Kurland. “Instana is packed with industry veterans who understand the APM industry, as well as the paradigm shifts now occurring in agile software development. Meritech is excited to partner with Instana as they continue to disrupt one of the largest and most important markets with their automated APM experience.”

The company plans to use the new funding to fulfill the demand for its service and expand its product line.

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