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New Relic acquisition of CoScale boosts Kubernetes prowess

Kubernetes monitoring is all the rage, and New Relic's CoScale buy gives it an edge in an increasingly noisy market for container monitoring tools.

The New Relic acquisition of CoScale will hasten delivery for Kubernetes support in its application performance monitoring and infrastructure products, as enterprises face a plethora of choices for container monitoring.

CoScale, founded as a cloud monitoring company in Belgium in 2013, pivoted to focus on container monitoring in 2014, then Kubernetes in 2016. As a result, its container monitoring tools boast advanced features such as automated anomaly detection and metrics correlation for Kubernetes environments, which will help New Relic Inc. stand out from competitors, such as Cisco AppDynamics, to capture enterprise IT pros' attention.

"We saw a lot of overlap with our product roadmap for deep Kubernetes monitoring," said Ramon Guiu, senior director of product management for New Relic. "We hope to reuse and integrate as much of [CoScale's] IP as possible into our products."

To that end, CoScale's employees will move to New Relic's development center in Barcelona, Spain. The New Relic acquisition also pulls in CoScale's partnership with Red Hat for OpenShift monitoring. The Kubernetes-based OpenShift Container Platform is popular for container orchestration among New Relic users, Guiu said.

Ramon GuiuRamon Guiu

These features reflect CoScale's early focus on containers and Kubernetes monitoring, analysts say, and the New Relic acquisition could help it overtake and surpass the rest of the market if it quickly integrates these CoScale features.

"In the past few months, every briefing with every monitoring vendor has focused on Kubernetes," said Nancy Gohring, analyst at 451 Research, who tracks the IT monitoring market. "CoScale was already offering Kubernetes support in April 2017 -- an age ago by technology standards -- and now, New Relic could have those capabilities much more quickly than if they had to develop them."

New Relic vs. AppDynamics

New Relic released its first support for Kubernetes integration in July 2018, but that integration required developers to manually correlate application performance monitoring (APM) and New Relic Infrastructure data with Kubernetes services via the Kubernetes Downward API, according to the company. New Relic released anomaly detection support for its APM and infrastructure tools in September 2018, but that, too, required developer effort to set divergence and duration thresholds for anomalies that trigger alerts.

By contrast, Cisco's AppDynamics released Kubernetes support in May 2018 that included automated anomaly detection and correlation between APM and Kubernetes infrastructure data, as well as integration with business metrics in Business iQ.

AppDynamics also turned heads in 2018 among New Relic users with distributed request tracing, a feature it's offered since 2015, which correlates metrics on requests between nodes in microservices infrastructures, where applications may consist of services written in multiple programming languages. New Relic released distributed request tracing features in July 2018.

Whatever New Relic can do with Kubernetes we'd like to see, because we don't have to worry about protecting [New Relic servers] behind the firewall.
Andy Clarksite reliability engineer,

"We've been using New Relic for at least five years, but we also looked at AppDynamics [in 2018] for distributed tracing," said Andy Clark, site reliability engineer at Inc., a home improvement ecommerce retailer in Chico, Calif. "We could use that to automatically link up front-end and back-end services in a microservices infrastructure and trace problems back to their original requests." abandoned that evaluation when New Relic released its own version and will soon implement that capability, along with New Relic's automated root cause analysis features, Clark said. has also looked into the open source Prometheus system for granular Kubernetes monitoring, though it would rather have Kubernetes monitoring built in to New Relic's SaaS-based dashboards.

"Whatever New Relic can do with Kubernetes we'd like to see, because we don't have to worry about protecting [New Relic servers] behind the firewall," Clark said.

Monitoring and enterprise IT infrastructure management vendors including Sysdig, Red Hat and Rancher have integrated Prometheus time-series monitoring into their products in 2018.

CoScale refines Kubernetes monitoring

New Relic's adoption of CoScale's container monitoring brings unique features to the table beyond automated anomaly detection and application correlations. Its approaches to monitoring functions, such as event variable integration and agentless monitoring, meet the needs of container environments as opposed to VMs. These features are also more advanced than what New Relic -- and many other container monitoring competitors -- can offer.

Event variable integration comes into play when CoScale monitors stateful containerized applications, such as PostgreSQL or MySQL databases, as detailed in an August 2017 blog post by CoScale product manager Peter Arijs. CoScale's monitoring agents supply containerized databases with access credentials as needed when database metrics are collected, rather than expose credential information continually, a security risk.

Similarly, CoScale can launch and collect data as needed through plug-ins for applications such as Nginx and Redis. This gives CoScale's tool visibility into containerized applications but doesn't require those containers to install and run plug-ins continually, which slows performance.

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