Today at FutureStack15, we announced our Software Analytics vision for New Relic’s Software Analytics Cloud. I’d like to talk about what that means for New Relic Synthetics, including four updates we’ve made to the product:
- New Relic Insights Data Explorer—lets you dig deeper into synthetic monitoring data
- Private Locations—lets you proactively monitor from anywhere
- Static IPs—like caller ID for synthetic bots
- Synthetics data in New Relic mobile apps—help for the “3 a.m. problem”
Insights Data Explorer: Dig deeper into synthetics analytics
Synthetics Pro has included Insights data and the Insights UI since it went GA a year ago. The Synthetics data in Insights can be used to analyze performance issues that occur during periods of high seasonal demand, such as the big holiday crunch that e-commerce companies will soon experience. Since the data goes back 13 months, you can not only see if you did better than last year, you can gain insight into why you did better (or worse) than last year—and know what adjustments to make.
Starting today, New Relic Insights’ new Data Explorer , which is designed to let users easily run powerful ad hoc queries with an intuitive point-and-click interface, is automatically included for New Relic Synthetics Pro customers. This means you can do those deep dives into performance without learning NRQL.
To give you a better idea of how Data Explorer can leverage Synthetics data, let’s say you’re trying to optimize frontend Web app performance. You could filter on two dimensions—location (Washington) and monitor (one of our New Relic University demos). Looking at 99th percentile load times for all Web assets returned by this monitor in this location, we see that an embedded video previously loaded quickly. Then something changed on October 18th that led to much longer load times:This information itself is invaluable. But for deeper troubleshooting, we can look at how much time was spent in each portion of the HTTP request/response process—DNS, connect, SSL, block, wait, and receive (all of which are detailed in our documentation).
Insights Data Explorer also can help Synthetics users determine which external domains are having the biggest impact on their sites. Below, we see that a CDN is having the biggest impact on our site’s performance:Insights Data Explorer is generally available for all New Relic customers starting today.
Private Locations: Proactively monitor from anywhere
Synthetics lets you monitor applications 24/7 from nine locations worldwide: San Francisco; Portland; Washington, D.C.; Dublin; Frankfurt; São Paulo; Singapore; Sydney; and Tokyo. But what if you need to monitor from other locations? Suppose you provided services to financial institutions based in New York City. How would you ensure that…
- Your apps are always accessible to customers in NYC—even during periods of no traffic, when real user monitoring tools like New Relic Browser won’t detect problems?
- Any new app deployments haven’t broken anything for NYC customers?
- You are able to check SLA compliance from NYC?
This is where Synthetics Private Locations comes in: it runs synthetic scripts from machines running a VMware hypervisor or VirtualBox. You install and run the Synthetics private minion (a standard OVF file) at the locations you need, connect it to the New Relic Software Analytics Cloud, and it’s ready to start running synthetic scripts to help ensure your apps are always ready at all critical customer locations and key markets.
Synthetics Private Locations is available to New Relic Synthetics customers as of FutureStack15 at no cost until February 1, 2016. After February 1, you’ll be able to run as many Private Locations as you need for $1,000/month.
Static IPs: Caller ID for synthetic bots
We’ve been listening to the feedback we’ve been getting from our Synthetics customers, and some of you told us that your Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) are flagging traffic from Synthetics, thinking that it’s a malicious bot trying to hack into your system. As a result of the IDS blocking Synthetics traffic, the Synthetics scripts fail, and it appears that an app is down—even though it’s really not.
IDS tools have a simple workaround: whitelist the IP addresses from which Synthetics traffic originates. That’s why New Relic Synthetics now uses static IPs instead of dynamic IP addresses, making them easier to whitelist. Think of it as “caller ID” for friendly bots.
Synthetics Static IPs are GA as of today, with no additional charge.
Synthetics in New Relic mobile apps: Addressing the “3 a.m. problem”
New Relic Synthetics is often used to address the “3 a.m. problem” that customers experience when they use only real user monitoring tools like New Relic Browser to manage the end user experience. By definition, if no one is using an app, a real user monitoring tool won’t collect any metrics, and thus won’t detect any issues. Synthetics complements Browser by continually checking app performance using bots (i.e., “synthetic users”) that run scripts.
Since most people aren’t at their laptop in the middle of the night, we’re now including Synthetics data in our New Relic mobile apps. Now, if you get alerted to a problem, you can easily roll out of bed (or wherever you are) and use Synthetics data to jump into action.