by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 13 June 2013
In the past, we have reviewed solutions that enable you to quantify and monitor web analytics.
This week, let's take a look at a different kind of solution. New Relic is a website monitoring (SaaS) and an application performance monitoring solution that helps you optimize website performance by collecting and aggregating performance metrics for your site. In this New Relic review, we will look at the solution's features, interface and see how it can be of use to you.
As I mentioned in my introduction, New Relic tracks your website's performance. It does this by installing an agent on your server that tracks vital statistics related to your website. These statistics are pertaining to three aspects of your website's performance: end user monitoring, application monitoring, and server monitoring. While end user monitoring is related to browser monitoring, application monitoring measures parameters such as requests per minute (or, RPM) for your site. In turn, this enables you to measure traffic trends for your site. Finally, New Relic's server monitoring feature enables you to track and investigate your parameters relating to your web server.
Agent installation depends on the server-side scripting language. Currently, the application has installation agents for Ruby, PHP, Java, Node.js, Python, and .Net. The installation agent involves downloading the appropriate package and installing it on your server. The agent works as a service call; hence, you can start and stop it based on requirements.
Once you have installed the agent, you can associate multiple applications or servers to it using New Relic. They are listed on a single page and selecting a single app or server displays summary details related to that app or server.
Trace routes of your application displays component breakdown for your webpage. For example, you can check whether certain components of your website cause more problems than others and take appropriate action. You can also check transaction traces for each server and application. Thus, you can collect data for your slowest individual HTTP requests to access times for each application.
The application's database feature displays individual transactions in a tabular format. Individual parameters related to your database such as operations, throughput, and response times are displayed individually. This can be especially useful to measure and isolate response times related to your database and track performance issues.
New Relic also uses Apdex, an industry standard used to measure user satisfaction for website response times. The Apdex score is calculated relative to the index threshold score defined by the user. Using the wealth of statistics generated by New Relic, you can slice and dice your optimization strategy accordingly. In addition, you can generate multiple custom reports and maps. For example, you can set alerts or notification settings for specific events related to website performance. In addition, you can set up RSS feeds for event notifications. Because New Relic integrates with your helpdesk, you can also file tickets relating to each error message or share it with other members of your group.
New Relic is, possibly, the only application of its kind. While most web analytics promise to measure website performance comprehensively, they do not measure the backend i.e., server activity or application activity. I especially like the fact that New Relic enables you to measure activity at the macro and micro levels. Thus, you can measure website performance with high-level data such as browser performance and relate it to your granular data such as individual application access time.
However, the folks behind New Relic should consider simplifying the agent installation procedure. In its current state, the procedure is technical and involves knowledge of operating systems. For small businesses and mid-sized organizations, which work with several technical constraints as is, this might be a significant inhibiting factor for adoption of the application. Simplifying the procedure and making it intuitive will find more users for the application.
The solution has three pricing tiers, based on the number of duration of time that data is retained in the system and number of features. The tiers are called Lite, Standard, and Pro. The features are incremental; hence, enrolling in subsequent tiers will get you features from the previous tier plus a new set of features. They range from simple monitoring of your website to performance analysis to code level diagnostics.
New Relic is an excellent solution. Beyond the hype of monitoring your web applications, New Relic enables you to simplify and quantify your web optimization approach. For example, you can use the solution to conduct specific tests and directed action for your website. I think the solution is, in a word, awesome!
Ratings: ease of use 5/5, features 5/5, value 5/5 and ease of deployment 4.5/5