New Relic to mine performance data for business insights

New Relic's Rubicon service provides tools to query and build reports on the fly based on application performance monitoring data

Software provider New Relic is extending its system administrator tools for monitoring the performance of applications to help business managers as well.

"The data coming out of your software is transformative to your business. The answers are there, you just to need to query the data correctly and do it fast," said New Relic CEO Lew Cirne, speaking Thursday at the company's FutureStack13 user conference in San Francisco. 

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In 2014, New Relic will launch a service, now called Rubicon, that promises to provide information on how an organization's applications and websites are being used by their customers. It leverages the operational data already collected by New Relic's software agents.

The company also announced that it has updated its flagship application performance management (APM) software and launched a new APM monitor for mobile clients.

APM software, offered by companies such as New Relic, CA, and Compuware, can collect vast amounts of operational metrics, such as the time it takes for a database to return a response. This data can be useful for debugging a slow-running application or to alert IT staff when an application stops running altogether. 

That data could also be useful for other business units within an organization, Cirne said. Typically, though, retrieving and formatting such large volumes of unstructured data has been difficult to do in-house. "You have to think very hard about the question you pose, because it may take weeks before you get the data in, formatted, and get an answer back," Cirne said.

The idea behind Rubicon is to simplify that process.

The Rubicon service will provide an event database to collect the raw operational data, as well as a set of tools to query and build reports against that data. 

The service could reveal, for instance, how many users deployed a particular feature on an application within the prior 24 hours. 

The service supplies SQL-like language to interrogate the database, which collects operational data from agents attached to the application. 

Cirne, who coded the first version of Rubicon, called the culling and analysis of this data "software analytics." It can aggregate data around how many users deployed an application, what features they tried, what OSes they used and what countries they reside in. 

Rubicon can run queries on the fly, allowing users to filter for the specific attributes they are looking for. Data can be grouped by a time series or it can show data of current actions currently being taken. 

Users' queries can also be displayed on a dashboard or supplied to another application as a JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) feed. 

Existing New Relic customers can sign up to try a beta of the software when it becomes available. 

Beyond the Rubicon announcement, the company also updated its flagship APM software, the highlights of which Cirne also discussed during his keynote. 

The software now can monitor the performance of Node.js, an increasingly widely used framework for running JavaScript applications on a server. Over 10,000 New Relic customers asked for Node.js support, Cirne said.

To work with Node.js, New Relic partnered with Joyent, Microsoft Windows Azure Mobile Services, CloudBees, and EngineYard. 

New Relic is not alone in its support of Node.js. Apigee also announced this week that it would support Node.js on its API (application programming interface) management service.

New Relic's APM software update also comes with the ability to create histograms and percentiles, which should provide administrators with more details about the historical performance of applications. 

The alerting system, which notifies administrators when an application is malfunctioning, has been revamped. 

The company has also released an app for the Apple iPad, which provides administrators with a New Relic interface for those times when the administrator is not in the office. 

The company will also release, by the end of the year, a new application for monitoring mobile applications on Android and Apple iOS devices. 

The mobile device monitoring software can supply a timeline for different activities, such as an application loading a screen, showing exactly where any bottleneck may occur. It can also provide performance information about the device's OS, as well as operational metrics on device components, such as CPU, database and memory usage.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com.

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