New Relic has launched a service that leverages cloud resources to make analytics based on distributed tracing more accessible to DevOps teams.
Andrew Tunall, general manager for New Relic serverless and emerging cloud services, said the New Relic Edge with Infinite Tracing service democratizes access to distributed tracing analytics by providing access via a software-as-a-service (SaaS) application that is managed entirely by New Relic. Rather than having to set up a platform to analyze distributed traces, Tunall said the New Relic Edge with Infinite Tracing service provides access to observability analytics for up to eight days.
The service observes all application traces across distributed systems in a way that makes it easier to identify actionable issues, said Tunall. The amount of telemetry that’s emitted across a distributed system can easily involve tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of spans per minute. By keeping distributed tracing data on the public cloud, New Relic is also minimizing the amount of egress data from the cloud, which he noted serves to significantly reduce potential cloud computing costs given the fees cloud service providers charge for moving data off their platforms.
Tunall said it’s become more feasible to employ distributed tracing rather than relying on sampling because modern applications are more highly instrumented. DevOps teams have realized access to telemetry data is at the core of any effort to enable observability within the context of best DevOps practices. The challenge has been that setting up the tools to achieve that observability goal has required the expertise of the equivalent of a site reliability engineer.
The New Relic Edge with Infinite Tracing service, in contrast, provides easier access to observability tools based on distributed tracing to any member of the DevOps team, he said. That approach means for the first time in many cases, developers and members of the IT operations team will have access to a common set of tools for at least discovering the root cause of an application issue. In fact, the existence of such tools might go a long way toward fostering increased adoption of best DevOps practices.
It’s not quite clear to what degree the rise of distributed tracing will impact the use of sampling to monitor IT platforms. In most cases, sampling is relied on to identify a potential issue, while distributed tracing provides the means to drill down to the point where the root cause of any issue is readily identifiable. However, as open source agents for capturing application metrics become more widely available and the cost of distributed tracing continues to decline, reliance on traditional sampling techniques might decline. At this stage, however, many organizations have not fully appreciated the difference between being able to completely observe an application and simply monitoring it, so it may be a while before distributed tracing is applied pervasively.
In the meantime, at a time when applications are becoming more complex, the tools needed to manage them are, fortunately, becoming more accessible.