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Observability platform provider Honeycomb revealed it has added a Honeycomb Metrics offering to its cloud service that surfaces insights using a construct many IT teams already employ to manage their environments. Honeycomb made the announcement today during its online o11ycon+hnycon conference.

The company has been at the forefront of a race to replace traditional monitoring tools with an observability platform that provides more context. The Honeycomb approach is based on a proprietary data store that’s accessed via a cloud service, and it’s designed to scale in a way that allows all the raw data associated with a specific IT event to be captured and analyzed. In comparison, legacy application performance management (APM) platforms sample data captured from applications to surface an indication of, for example, a bottleneck. IT teams typically then need to drill deeper into the application using additional tools to identify the root cause of an issue.

Competing approaches

Rival observability platforms generally rely on distributed traces to enable IT teams to track and observe service requests as they flow through distributed computing environments. The challenge IT teams still face, however, is that they need to instrument those applications using agent software that has to be deployed, managed, secured, and updated within every application. The bulk of existing legacy applications are not instrumented at all — mainly because of the time and effort required.

Honeycomb is making a case for an alternative approach that allows IT teams to more easily declare which events they want to analyze and then pull all the raw data associated with those events into a Honeycomb cloud service where analytics can be applied. The Honeycomb Metrics service now surfaces analytics in a metric format that most IT teams already employ today to analyze, for example, log data.

Other news

In addition to launching Honeycomb Metrics, the company has also added a Query Data application programming interface (API) and revamped the user interface for its Query Builder.

It’s not clear how long IT teams will continue to rely on metrics to analyze IT environments, but Honeycomb perceives a clear need to meet IT teams where they are today rather than requiring them to embrace an entirely different construct to analyze observability data, CEO Christine Yen said.

The launch of the Honeycomb Metrics service follows a $20 million raise last February. But the company faces stiff competition. In addition to a host of rival startup companies that have launched observability platforms, every provider of an APM platform has now repositioned its offerings as an observability cloud service.

Still, IT teams are revisiting how they manage IT in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as more complex cloud-native applications are being deployed in the cloud. Observability platforms, in addition to providing more context, enable IT teams to rationalize legacy monitoring tools that tend to be tied to a specific platform. Each of those tools has its own graphical user interface, which results in IT specialists needing to compare and contrast analytics surfaced by disparate tools. An observability platform makes IT teams more efficient at a time when application environments are been modernized using microservices with complex dependencies that are difficult to track.

As application environments are modernized, the rate at which IT teams are embracing new frameworks to manage IT has gained momentum, Yen noted. “COVID accelerated a whole bunch of trends,” she said.

Honeycomb claims to now have more than 300 customers, including HelloFresh, Intercom, and Slack. As IT teams have almost unlimited options, the challenge is figuring out which of these platforms best fits not just how they manage IT today but how they plan to do so tomorrow.

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