New Relic catches up in serverless monitoring with IOpipe

IOpipe's IP and expertise will help New Relic catch up with the latest serverless monitoring trends, such as AWS Lambda Layers support and event-driven frameworks.

Serverless monitoring startup IOpipe is the latest in a series of acquisitions by New Relic, an IT monitoring vendor that continues to add the tools DevOps pros need to maintain insight into cloud-native application architectures.

New Relic already added advanced serverless monitoring features to its core product a year ago, including the ability to instrument function as a service (FaaS) executables such as AWS Lambda with observability code for distributed tracing, anomaly detection and granular metrics such as high-percentile network latencies.

The acquisition, which follows on New Relic's buyouts of Kubernetes monitoring specialist CoScale and AIOps player SignifAI over the last year, shows a desire for DevOps monitoring tool consolidation among enterprises as they adopt new cloud-native technologies while juggling legacy applications.

"It's rare that technologies operate in a vacuum -- not everything makes sense to run in serverless, and nobody wants siloed visibility," said Nancy Gohring, senior analyst at 451 Research.

The most popular serverless platform, AWS Lambda, has been joined in the market over the last year by several other FaaS and event-driven computing alternatives, adding room for third-party tools to unify monitoring among them.

"That multi-cloud reality is where the real opportunity lies," said Jeffrey Hammond, analyst at Forrester Research. "You can use CloudWatch for AWS Lambda, but what if you use Salesforce functions? Or Adobe I/O? Is anyone really going to use three separate telemetry tools for those?"

Serverless monitoring a battleground for vendors

Investments by DevOps monitoring vendors in serverless support also reflects shifting priorities for enterprise IT ops admins and SREs as developers adopt functions and fully managed container service such as AWS Fargate, which abstract much of the underlying infrastructure from the user. Such approaches to application hosting require IT ops -- and the tools IT ops pros use -- to shift their scope to application performance issues and tracing event triggers, as well as function requests through a complex web of cloud services. That's where IOpipe and similar serverless monitoring specialists such as Epsagon and Thundra come in.

Adam Johnson, CEO and co-founder, IOpipeAdam Johnson

As a smaller, nimbler startup company than New Relic, IOpipe has adapted its product more quickly to the latest evolution of serverless architecture in AWS Lambda Layers, a framework introduced by AWS in December that supports the sharing of libraries across Lambda functions without the need to add common code repeatedly into functions themselves. IOpipe, Epsagon, NodeSource and direct New Relic competitor Datadog were among the monitoring launch partners for AWS Lambda Layers.

Erica Windisch, CTO and co-founder, IOpipeErica Windisch

New Relic officials said the first order of business post acquisition is for IOpipe's engineering team, headed by co-founders Erica Windisch and Adam Johnson, to bring AWS Lambda Layers support to New Relic One.

Serverless and cloud-native monitoring is just one front in an ongoing all-out brawl between major APM and DevOps monitoring vendors, namely New Relic, AppDynamics, Dynatrace and Datadog, the last of which was also first among the major vendors to add serverless monitoring support beyond CloudWatch integration. Datadog also has an edge in cachet among developers, Forrester's Hammond said.

"Only a small percentage of developers have used [serverless] functions in the past 12 months, but Datadog has brand momentum and awareness among developers -- their name comes up a lot," he said.

Still, it remains early for the adoption of serverless platforms and even earlier for event-driven computing frameworks such as Knative and Google Cloud Run, but New Relic has those frameworks in its sights for the engineering talent it acquired with IOpipe.

"This acquisition looks like an indication New Relic is investing in making sure it's developing on the leading edge again," said Gohring, adding that there have been whispers of concern about the company following an executive shake-up and an earnings miss in September.

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