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New Relic streamlines DevOps monitoring tools amid upheavals

Amid price reductions, executive changes and layoffs, New Relic hones ease of use for its DevOps monitoring tools in a bid to boost its cachet among software engineers.

In the midst of a tumultuous year, New Relic is updating its DevOps monitoring tools to stay relevant to cloud-native app development teams.

The SaaS vendor made steep pricing cuts last July and significantly consolidated its product line into three core offerings: a Full-Stack Observability visualization tool, Telemetry Data Platform (TDP) for data collection and an Applied Intelligence AIOps add-on.

In January, the company promoted Bill Staples, an executive who joined the company in early 2020, to president and chief product officer; as of July 1 he will replace founder Lew Cirne as CEO, according to the company's website. New Relic also laid off 160 employees, or 7% of its workforce, in April.

"In the [IT monitoring] space in general, there's a lot of pricing adjustment going on," said Stephen Elliot, an analyst at IDC. "New buying personas are starting to emerge, and customers are still getting comfortable with new product packaging."

In addition to its usual competitors such as Cisco's AppDynamics, Datadog and Dynatrace, New Relic faces competition from a burgeoning open source observability space that features tools such as OpenTelemetry, Prometheus and Grafana. New Relic joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation in May and contributed IP from Pixie, a Kubernetes auto-instrumentation company it acquired in December.

Still, as vendors seek to broaden the types of data they collect and potential users for their products, large enterprises have started to consolidate the number of DevOps monitoring tools they use in favor of shared tools that keep data consistent between app dev and IT ops teams.

New Relic has to keep showing customers value.
Stephen ElliotAnalyst, IDC

Amid these market changes, SaaS vendors such as New Relic must continually rethink how they can remain appealing to customers, Elliot said.

"There's no such thing as post-sales -- it no longer applies," when users are paying for SaaS services as they go, he said. "New Relic has to keep showing customers value."

New Relic ties in Pixie, partners with Kentik

With an update this week, New Relic looks to latch on to this trend through its Full-Stack Observability tool, which now includes an Errors Inbox that alerts developers to errors in both applications and infrastructure, including serverless computing resources. This feature also includes integrations with Slack and ServiceNow for troubleshooting collaboration among developer teams.

New Relic's TDP, also introduced amid last year's product consolidation, now includes the company's first integration with Pixie. The public beta version of this integration that became available this week automates the installation of New Relic DevOps monitoring agents in Kubernetes environments and eliminates the need for developers to write instrumentation code into apps for container clusters with fewer than 100 nodes.

New Relic Pixie installation
New Relic Pixie installation

Finally, New Relic partnered with network infrastructure monitoring vendor Kentik to bolster the infrastructure data TDP collects, such as AWS Virtual Private Cloud network flows. Users of Full-Stack Observability can apply its analytics and dashboard visualizations to that data with this week's integration. Full-Stack Observability also supports custom dashboards through a partnership with engineering and design consultancy Formidable.

Kentik's network observability tool fills an important gap in New Relic's data collection portfolio, keeping pace with competitors such as AppDynamics, which plans to integrate with ThousandEyes, another Cisco acquisition. LogicMonitor, an infrastructure monitoring specialist, also expanded into application performance management, New Relic's traditional turf, with its acquisition of Airbrake in February.

New Relic has made several acquisitions during the past two years, but company officials said partnering with Kentik was the fastest way to add network infrastructure data for customers.

"The network piece is increasingly critical if you're going to market an observability product," since microservices applications rely much more heavily on network communication between components than traditional monolithic apps, Elliot said. "They'll probably see how the partnership goes, and if they need to acquire Kentik, I'm sure they're open to doing that."

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

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