New Relic today at the KubeCon + CloudNativeCon North America conference launched a New Relic Instant Observability (I/O) initiative through which it is making available open source tools to simplify application instrumentation.
Marck Robinson, senior vice president for engineering at New Relic, said the catalog of tools will help DevOps teams instrument a much wider range of applications. New Relic will make those tools available as part of the free tier of its observability platform delivered via the cloud. DevOps teams will be able to use more than 400 pre-configured quickstarts to both instrument applications and create dashboards, Robinson said.
New Relic itself is contributing quickstarts for cloud services, open source tools and platforms such as Kubernetes, Istio and Cassandra. Third-party vendors that have already contributed to the catalog include Cribl, Fastly, Gigamon, Kentik, Lacework and Trend Micro. Each contribution is being vetted by New Relic as part of an effort to foster the development of a larger open source observability ecosystem, noted Robinson.
Robinson said overall, New Relic is trying to make it easier for DevOps teams to close an instrumentation gap that is impeding IT organizations from moving beyond monitoring to embrace true observability of their IT environments. The recent New Relic 2021 Observability Forecast report notes only a quarter of respondents (26%) have a mature observability practice, with the most commonly cited barriers to observability being a lack of resources (38%) and skills gaps (29%).
As a result, DevOps teams often encounter a last-mile observability challenge when it comes to both instrumenting applications and then building their dashboards, said Robinson.
As part of a larger effort to make it easier to instrument applications, New Relic has open sourced agent software, standardized on the OpenTelemetry tools being advanced under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and contributed the Pixie observability platform for Kubernetes environments to the CNCF.
Observability in one some or another has always been a core tenet of any DevOps best practice. Initially, DevOps teams focused on continuous monitoring as the most effective way to proactively manage application environments. However, it can still take days, sometimes weeks, to discover the root cause of an issue. However, observability platforms are emerging that correlate events in a way that makes it easier for analytics tools to identify anomalous behavior indicative of a root cause of an IT issue. Armed with these insights, it becomes a lot simpler for IT teams to resolve issues faster.
In contrast, monitoring focuses on predefined metrics to identify when a specific platform or application is performing within expectations. The metrics tracked generally focus on, for example, resource utilization. Observability, on the other hand, combines metrics, logs and traces—a specialized form of logging—to instrument applications in a way that makes it simpler to troubleshot issues without having to rely solely on a limited set of metrics that have been pre-defined to monitor a specific process.
With the rise of microservices-based applications, the shift to the cloud and more end users than ever working remotely, the need for observability has never been more critical. The issue now is finding a way to make it much simpler to achieve.