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New Relic condenses observability views for fast IT response

New Relic Explorer reflects a need for simple, quick troubleshooting within observability tools from enterprises whose businesses increasingly depend on application performance.

New Relic's observability tool now gets to the root of problems faster for enterprise DevOps teams under pressure to keep increasingly complex microservices apps performing well.

New Relic APM customers that use Full Stack Observability, a part of the New Relic One platform released in June 2020, will automatically get an update that includes a new feature called New Relic Explorer. Explorer adds two centralized dashboards to Full Stack Observability, called Navigator and Lookout, that condense application and infrastructure data into single-screen views.

Previously, Full Stack Observability included telemetry data and dashboards that represented application metrics, synthetic monitoring data, application traces, browser data, and infrastructure data, including Kubernetes topology and logs, but presented each data type in a separate tab.

Explorer's Navigator tool condenses that into a real-time view showing all containers, workloads, services, hosts and synthetic monitoring runs on one screen, which users can further sort according to region, teams and tags. Lookout adds a historical view that uses machine learning to show recent changes in application performance and points out correlated events.

New Relic One has other means of automatically correlating events, performing root cause analysis and generating alerts through its Applied Intelligence AIOps tool. But Explorer is meant for when IT pros want to proactively watch for performance issues, such as during a major business event or A/B and chaos testing, or to respond to customer complaints that may not have been picked up by automated alerts.

New Relic Explorer
New Relic Lookout

"The thing about microservices, for all of their virtues … is that on any given day, [observability dashboard indicators are] going to be red -- the architecture design allows for failure," said Buddy Brewer, field CTO for the Americas at New Relic. "If, all of a sudden, there's an issue you didn't get an alert about, and you log in, you're going to see stuff that's red, and some of that stuff was red yesterday, while others just turned red and are related to your issue."

New Relic and its competitors, including AppDynamics, Dynatrace, Sysdig, CA Technologies, Splunk and others, are streamlining and consolidating observability tools to appeal to IT teams that need better troubleshooting efficiency in a post-pandemic world, according to IDC analyst Stephen Elliot.

Customers are a lot less patient with apps that don't work, whether they're IT buyers or consumers.
Stephen ElliotAnalyst, IDC

"Application complexity is exploding, and that will continue -- it's not a short-term trend," Elliot said. "At the same time, customers are a lot less patient with apps that don't work, whether they're IT buyers or consumers."

The COVID-19 pandemic forced accelerated digital transformation, adding scrutiny from enterprise upper management to DevOps teams' daily pressures, Elliot added.

"Business architectures are increasingly one and the same as tech architectures," Elliot said. "The customer experience on an application is increasingly tied to brand reputation, which has elevated the importance of these [observability] platforms."

New Relic's Brewer said he's seen a shift among customers from separate developer and ops teams toward the full-stack developer role, where software engineers or cross-functional teams centrally own application incident response. In general, however, most enterprises are still in organizational transition as they modernize apps, Elliot said.

"Vendors are responding to confusion in who owns what -- there's frothiness in every IT organization, a lot of new titles, from [site reliability engineering] teams to DevOps teams to cloud Centers of Excellence," he said. "But at the same time, there's a real, increasingly important theme around reducing complexity in tools and the level of human process complexity [in using them]."

New Relic One, the Dynatrace Software Intelligence Platform and recent integration of Cisco security IP into AppDynamics observability tools represent what may be a watershed year for competition between observability vendors in 2021. Each of these broad platforms seeks to displace other monitoring, business intelligence and even application security products, and not everyone can win in that kind of high-stakes race, Elliot said.

"We may start seeing further separation between vendors this year, which will probably be hypercompetitive," he said. "The good thing for IT buyers is that hypercompetitive means pricing pressure on vendors."

Beth Pariseau, senior news writer at TechTarget, is an award-winning 15-year veteran of IT journalism. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @PariseauTT.

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