Various forms of application performance management (APM) platforms have been around for some time. But with the rise of microservices many IT organizations are discovering that legacy APM platforms were not designed to handle the volume of software modules or the rate at which those modules are updated. But LightStep, a startup founded by former Google employees and flush with an additional $29 million in funding, is positioning itself as the first APM written from the ground up for microservices environments.
LightStep CEO Ben Sigelman says regardless of where software modules and components get deployed, LightStep [x]PM is capable of monitoring and troubleshooting performance issues across all web and mobile clients, monoliths and microservices.
Most of the demand for LightStep [x]PM, he says, is being driven primarily by microservices based on containers such as Docker. But the APM platform itself can support both microservices and legacy monolithic applications. That creates an opportunity to rationalize APM platforms as organizations make the shift to microservices while continuing to need to support existing legacy applications running in a production environment, Sigelman says.
Twilio, Lyft, Yext, GitHub and DigitalOcean are already using LightStep [x]PM, which traces its roots back to Dapper, an always-on distributed tracing system that Sigelman developed at Google in production environments. A decentralized architecture enables LightStep [x]PM to continuously analyze 100 percent of transactions across all services. A statistical engine is then employed to detect anomalies, which the APM can then record and replay as part of an end-to-end tracing capability based on OpenTracing, an open API standard co-created by Sigelman and others that has now become a project administered by the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).
Other capabilities embedded within LightStep [x]PM include support for service mesh and load-balancing technologies such as Envoy, linkerd, nginx and haproxy.
With every new era of enterprise computing, a contest occurs between startup companies such as LightStep and incumbent providers of technology platforms. LightStep is clearly trying to fill a void before incumbent providers of APM platforms can add support for microservices. Incumbents occasionally rely on their own organic efforts to upgrade their platforms, but more often they buy a startup company and then spend several years trying to unify disparate code bases.
Of course, there are many organizations that are just beginning their DevOps journey. Many of the them may not have any kind of APM platform in place. Most tend to be cost-sensitive as well, so offerings based on open-source code tend to have greater appeal.
However the APM wars play out, it’s apparent they are about to enter a new phase. The winners and losers of those wars will be determined by DevOps teams rather than C-level IT executives trying to impose a framework from on high. After all, if IT organizations have learned anything in the last few years, it’s that DevOps tends to have a more lasting impact when it comes from the bottom up.