When New Relic founder and CEO Lew Cirne took the stage at FutureStack18 in San Francisco this morning, he had a dramatic message for the attendees: “We are experiencing a global phenomenon of immense magnitude. The world is turning digital, in virtually every industry.”
The proof is in the numbers. By 2021, he said, IDC projections suggest that at least 50% of global GDP will be digitized—with a digital spend of more than $52 trillion! And that growth comes from virtually zero before the internet first arrived some 30 years ago.
If this is the way of the future, Lew added, every business now faces what we call “The Velocity Imperative.” Companies have no choice but to move faster just to keep up, and that means not just shipping software faster but also iterating faster and learning from customer feedback to get better every day.
That’s exciting for technical folks, he said, partly because it’s also the right time to adopt new best practices, incorporate new tools, and change existing roles to take advantage of this new reality.
We’ve already seen this in the rise of new technologies and approaches, including the cloud, DevOps, microservices, containers and container orchestration, and serverless. They’re all helping to increase velocity and reduce friction in getting from code to production—but these new technologies also create a lot of challenges. “It’s amazing how much stuff has to work perfectly for things to work in production,” Lew told the FutureStack audience.
Beyond the tactical approach to monitoring
Of course, “software works until it doesn’t,” he added. You have to watch everything, which traditionally meant installing a bunch of tools to track various aspects of your applications and infrastructure. That helps, but a lot of needless work goes into this kind of a tactical approach to visibility:
You have to manually instrument all your code. So “instead of working on new features,” as Lew put it, “you’re working to see what the feature you didn’t write is doing.”
You have to manage your monitoring software instead of managing the software that delivers your customer experience.
You have to keep manually doing repetitive tasks. That’s no one’s idea of being productive.
These are real problems at the best of times, and it gets worse when issues inevitably crop up. In those situations, Lew said, “you absolutely need to know right now,” but it can take a lot of work and time to understand where the problem lies.
“We call that toil,” Lew said, and “Life is too short for toil.” New Relic is “on a mission to take out the toil of seeing everything” in your applications and infrastructure.
The 4 pillars of a successful observability platform
The solution, he said, is to reject this tactical approach to monitoring in favor of a single platform to monitor everything. To be successful, though, this platform must incorporate four key pillars. It must be:
1. Application centric. You have to start with the application and support that with all the other things. All new technologies exist in the service of the application that actually provides the business value, Lew said. For example, while “the USA Today Network has invested in multiple technologies to handle instantaneous demand, that doesn’t matter to customers. They just want to read the article.” Customer experience, delivered by the application, is all that really matters, and the New Relic platform has always focused on the application first.
2. Cloud native. It’s 2018, Lew noted, and “it’s past settled that the cloud is not only mainstream, but unquestionably the future.” New Relic has always been dedicated to multi-tenant Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and our platform already has more than 50 integrations into the most important cloud services, including Kubernetes services.
3. Intelligent. You need software smarts to make it easy to understand and fix problems and scale efficiently. New Relic handles 2 billion metrics and events every minute, more than any human can possibly analyze. That’s why it’s critical to make sense of all that instrumentation and telemetry data by moving it to software where users can more easily gain insight and understanding of what’s really happening. The New Relic platform gets even more intelligent with today’s announcement of new features like outlier detection and incident context. (Outlier detection can notify you if members of a group deviate from a key metric. Incident context is designed to show you where to look to fix something fast, or as Lew likes to describe it, “show me the freaking answer!”)
4. Programmable. You need to be able to customize the platform to fit your specific needs. At New Relic, we work hard to provide the most common solutions “out-of-the-box.” But “there’s always a long tail,” Lew acknowledged. There’s always something specific needed for your business or your technology environment. Regardless of why you want to see it, he said, we recognize that you need a way to see what’s important to you. That’s why we announced the New Relic Developer Program—go to developer.newrelic.com—and have standardized our API strategy to use the same GraphQL APIs we make available to our customers. The goal is simple: to make it easier for our customers to get the right data into New Relic, to look at that data the right way, and to get the right data out of New Relic as needed. (Learn more: Introducing the New Relic Developer Program—A Journey Towards Openness, Simplification, and Engagement.)
As the world turns digital, New Relic has more than 50 agile teams working on our platform to give you one place where you can see it all. Where you can monitor your apps and infrastructure with ease and velocity. Where you can reduce unnecessary toil. Where you can find and fix problems easier and faster than ever before. Where you can get the insights you need to move fast, with confidence.
Watch the entire keynote below, complete with demos and appearances by leaders from IBM and Gannett:
Photos: Andrew Weeks Photography