Datadog takes it to New Relic and the other APM vendors

Formerly an infrastructure monitoring company, Datadog wants to extend its breadth.

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Credit: Bigwavephoto

Interesting news today from Datadog, which has announced a move into the application performance monitoring (APM) space and with it direct competition with vendors such as New Relic and AppDynamics.

Until now, Datadog was firmly focused on the infrastructure monitoring space -- helping organizations make sure their servers and storage were doing everything they should be. While this space is analogous to the APM one, Datadog had played nicely with the APM vendors, even integrating some of those servers into its own product.

Following on from Datadog's Series D investment, however, the company is on a mission to broaden its customer base and addressable market, and has been working on an extension to its product that it suggests will take New Relic head-on and eat at its market share. Specifically, Datadog is releasing its own APM solution that, it hopes, will find favor with customers that already use its services, such as Airbnb, Spoitfy and Twilio.

The thrust of this product move is a desire to help organizations troubleshoot across the totality of their IT systems -- both application-related and infrastructure-related. In doing so, Datadog aims to deliver quick resolutions, more consistency and, ultimately, better performance.

"Most APM tools on the market today are designed to troubleshoot coding issues in isolation," said Amit Agarwal, chief product officer at Datadog. "However, in modern cloud-scale applications, quickly resolving problems requires examining changes in both the infrastructure and code simultaneously."

Datadog's APM solution supports a variety of different use cases, including performance optimization and outage diagnosis to reduce the impact of downtime for large-scale users.

Like its existing offering, Datadog's APM is offered as a hosted SaaS solution and offers alerting via the expected channels: email, SMS, and cloud-based collaboration tools such as Slack and HipChat. In terms of the user interface, Datadog offers customizable dashboards for metric correlation and flame graphs for quickly and accurately identifying the most frequently used code paths.

Datadog is quick to articulate a value proposition that suggests that it is the only APM vendor to really be modern enough to handle the new ways of building applications. This is a common refrain in the cloud world where new vendors (or vendors pushing a new product) make assertions of the technical debt of others.

Given that New Relic is itself less than a decade old, and was also "born in the cloud," it's moderately hard to see just how much technical debt it could have accumulated (especially given the fact that its CEO is notoriously deeply technical and still intimately involved in product development). But Datadog would seem to have a Gartner analyst backing these claims up.

"The pace of scale and dynamism of the infrastructure and application environment are accelerating, with the advent of containers, microservices, autoscaling and software-defined 'everything' stressing the capabilities of existing APM tools," wrote Cameron Haight, vice president with Gartner’s IT Systems, Security and Risk research group in a March 2016 report.

In a June 2016 report Haight noted that "many, if not most, commercial APM tools do not have the ability to collect hundreds of data points on potentially thousands of microservices at high rates of frequency in order to 'paint a picture' of the environment in total."

MyPOV

I'm not really buying the technical debt argument, but what is a far stronger proposition is one of holistic monitoring across infrastructure and applications. Indeed, one of Datadog's customers that has been using both the infrastructure and the new APM offering would seem to back up this assertion.

"Having a single platform to monitor both our dynamic infrastructure and the code-level performance of our applications will give us a much richer context for making decisions," said Valentino Volonghi, chief technology officer at AdRoll. "As a Datadog customer, we're excited to see the company continue to move fast and provide solutions for modern architectures and workflows."

Datadog's APM is available as a beta product for select existing customers. No pricing information has been made public as yet -- it will be interesting to see where Datadog goes with its pricing offers.

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