Launch day. Years of effort have gone into this moment: You’ve obsessed over every detail of your product and worked tirelessly to prepare your technology stack. As you get ready to launch, the last thing you should have to worry about is your monitoring platform.

But all too frequently, launches are a white-knuckle moment, and complicated monitoring setups add to that. What if something goes wrong? Will you be able to find it in a sea of specialized tools, each holding only a piece of the puzzle? Are you recording the right information in the right format so that you can answer the questions that will come up? Did you build your data pipeline big enough to handle the load when things really get hot?

There is another way. We believe that monitoring should reduce anxiety instead of adding to it. All your data should be in one place and connected. Tools should help you answer questions quickly, even the ones you never thought you’d need to ask. And scaling up should be our problem, not yours.

This blog introduces you to the database behind the New Relic One platform—its design principles, how it achieves millisecond performance, and how it can support you on your biggest days.

Three design principles

As a pioneer of SaaS APM, we have over a decade of experience supporting our customers’ biggest deadlines, sporting events, and product launches year after year. That experience is manifest in everything we’ve built, and at the heart of it all is the New Relic Database (NRDB), the world’s most powerful telemetry database. NRDB serves the needs of over 180,000 accounts around the globe by ingesting over a billion telemetry data points every minute. Its unique power comes from adhering to three design principles:

  1. Observability requires a unified telemetry database
  2. Real-time investigation requires both speed and flexibility
  3. Dynamic demand requires unlimited scalability

Observability requires a unified telemetry database

By combining your metrics, events, logs, and traces in a unified database, NRDB gives you a complete view of your technology stack, enabling you to identify, understand, and resolve the issues that impact your business. No more combing through multiple systems to hunt for needles in different haystacks, while minutes, or even hours, are wasted getting your systems back online. With the New Relic Query Language (NRQL), you get a single interface to explore all of your data in NRDB.

Real-time investigation requires both speed and flexibility

Most databases require you to choose between speed and flexibility: You can get answers lightning fast, as long as you chose the right schema and indexes. Or, you can ask any question you want, as long as you are willing to wait for the answer.

In today’s complex world of distributed systems, microservices, and ephemeral infrastructure, it’s impossible to predict every question you will need to ask of your data. When trouble strikes, you may need to answer questions that you had never thought about asking before, and you need those answers fast. That’s why we built NRDB from the ground up as a schema-less database that enables fast queries and queries formed ad hoc without requiring indexing in advance, so that you don’t have to choose between speed or flexibility—you get both.

How NRDB achieves millisecond performance

Answering unindexed queries requires processing huge amounts of data, so we’ve optimized NRDB for speed and parallelization. Every second, NRDB serves thousands of queries for our customers, who need answers stored in multiple terabytes of data. Moving all that data around to search through it doesn’t make sense, so instead, we take the query to the data.

Every NRDB query starts at a query router that locates the data in the cluster and splits the original query into hundreds, or even thousands, of smaller queries that can be answered quickly by the workers holding the data. To balance memory and IO needs in NRDB’s multi-tenant cluster, very large queries are broken up into smaller pieces. Those pieces of the query are sent to other routers that deliver their partial queries to the workers holding the data. As each worker reads its files to answer the query, the process is reversed. First, the results of each file are merged on a worker. Then, each worker’s result is merged through the routers recursively until the original router has all of the data, returning the completed answer to the user.

How queries are routed in NRDB

Dynamic demand requires unlimited scalability

We designed NRDB to scale without limits to support the unpredictable demand of our customers around the globe. As our customer base has grown over the past decade, from retail to entertainment, apparel to healthcare, and gaming to e-commerce, we have scaled NRDB, which minimizes the overall impact of local spikes in demand. NRDB ingests over 1 billion data points per minute, so when any customer experiences increased demand, NRDB handles the incremental hundreds of millions of data points with ease.

How NRDB benefits you

With a lightning-fast mean query response of 130 milliseconds and the ability to analyze over 50 billion events in a single query, NRDB enables you to find the needles within your largest haystacks. And because of its multi-tenant architecture, our smallest customers benefit from the same massive computing resources as our largest users. Additionally, NRDB delivers the following capabilities:

  • Single query interface: Use NRQL to search all your telemetry data
  • Intelligence: Correlate insights across all your data sources
  • Performance: Query tens of billions of data points with results in milliseconds
  • Elasticity: Scale your business and trust your data retention will scale too
  • Predictable costs: Only pay for what you need

Try it for free

Start a free trial of New Relic One, or view our Introduction to chart builder to learn more about how the world’s most powerful telemetry database powers the New Relic platform.

 

This post contains “forward-looking” statements, as that term is defined under the federal securities laws, including but not limited to statements regarding market trends and opportunities in the New Relic Database (NRDB) and the benefits that NRDB may provide to current and potential New Relic customers. The achievement or success of the matters covered by such forward-looking statements are based on New Relic’s current assumptions, expectations, and beliefs and are subject to substantial risks, uncertainties, assumptions, and changes in circumstances that may cause New Relic’s actual results, performance, or achievements to differ materially from those expressed or implied in any forward-looking statement. Further information on factors that could affect New Relic’s financial and other results and the forward-looking statements in this post is included in the filings New Relic makes with the SEC from time to time, including in New Relic’s most recent Form 10-Q, particularly under the captions “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.” Copies of these documents may be obtained by visiting New Relic’s Investor Relations website at http://ir.newrelic.com or the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. New Relic assumes no obligation and does not intend to update these forward-looking statements, except as required by law.

John Withers is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at New Relic—and an obsessive dog lover. View posts by .

Interested in writing for New Relic Blog? Send us a pitch!