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New Relic Goes Free: Quality Rails Monitoring Now Free To All

In News, Tools


Disclaimer: New Relic sponsors Ruby and Rails Inside. This announcement is not advertorial, however, and is written as objectively as possible. Similar items have been written for non-sponsors, such as this item on Scout.

New Relic is best known as a provider of Rails application monitoring services to large sites - such as all of 37signals' applications and Shopify - with prices to match. New Relic invited me to tour their product recently and while I was extremely impressed with the range of features offered, the pricing seemed odd (being based on the number of Mongrels used - what if you don't use Mongrel??) and a little out of reach.

No more. In conjunction with some rather impressive additional features for their paid customers, New Relic has unveiled a Lite version of their main "RPM" product for free. RPM Lite gives you New Relic's high quality Rails application performance monitoring for free with, naturally, the ability to upgrade to the extended features at a later date. Mongrel, Thin, Litespeed, Passenger (mod_rails), and JRuby/Glassfish are now all supported.

As well as monitoring your controller actions, ActiveRecord and database utilization, CPU and memory use, and highlighting the slow spots of your application, you also get a "real-time dashboard" (see screenshot above), weekly e-mail reports, an iPhone-compatible client, and there's no limit to the number of hosts or applications you can monitor.

This isn't a New Relic commercial, so I'm going to pass on describing the more advanced features their pay-for product offers, although I was pretty impressed by their demo, and certainly see how companies like 37signals are getting a lot of value out of it. Naturally, the free product interests me a lot more, and I'd encourage you to check it out. No credit card numbers are required and it only takes a few minutes to get up and running.

Eating their own dogfood

Interestingly, all of New Relic's software is written in Ruby and all of RPM is Rails-based. Further, New Relic uses its own technology to monitor its own products - RPM is used upon itself! As founder Lewis Cirne says:

We use RPM on itself: that is, we use RPM Developer mode development to analyze performance issues before they reach production. And in production, we use RPM Gold to monitor how our production site is performing in realtime, detect problems, isolate bottlenecks, and improve scalability. RPM tells us that the response time on our data collection tier averages 40 ms and we have not had an outage in at least the last 2 months. Not bad for a platform that the pundits say "can't scale!"

He goes on to say that RPM collected "over 14 billion records of performance data" in August alone, and he believes that their Engine Yard dedicated cluster could "handle 4x that load."

The model of giving away a handful of features for free and encouraging people to pay for significant upgrades isn't an old one, but is reasonably unique in the Rails space. It's worth keeping an eye on New Relic to see how it pans out in the long term.

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