New Relic Infrastructure (which begins at $0.60 per instance per month for the Essential plan, which we tested) is cloud-based and uses agents on the servers or server instances being monitored. The infrastructure management service itself is a web application that has the ability to monitor both on-premises servers as well as cloud server instances. The product supports Windows Server 2008 and newer. We tested it by using Microsoft Windows Server 2016. Cloud support is quite broad, including virtually anything that runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS) as well as Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, and IBM Cloud. In addition to Windows instances, the product supports a variety of Linux distributions. As good as this product is, it doesn’t garner our Editors’ Choice, a designation that went instead to MMSoft Pulseway in this infrastructure management service roundup.
The New Relic Infrastructure user interface (UI) is primarily presented as a series of charts showing real-time line graphs, with a separate colored line representing each server you’ve chosen to monitor as well as the average for all servers. Because it uses the real-time line graphs, spotting an anomaly is very easy and positioning the mouse pointer over the anomaly instantly identifies it.
In addition to the items being tracked on the line graphs across the top of the screen, there’s a list of all monitored devices below it. You can select any of these to get details about the item, including information about the hardware and the operating system (OS). If the application performance management (APM) software is present, the screen will show application details as well.
Unlike more small business-oriented solutions, like WhatsUp Gold, New Relic intends its Infrastructure product to be used in large environments, and as such, it’s designed to be used with automated installs. However, it’s possible to install individual hosts or instances if necessary. New Relic Infrastructure makes an “Add Host” function available on the monitoring screen that takes you to a page where you can download the agent, and then provides instructions as to the command line entries. These command line entries are able to be copied and pasted into the command line of the target device. The process takes only seconds, and within a few seconds more, the monitored device shows up on your New Relic Infrastructure monitoring screen.
The primary UI is a row of line graphs across the screen. You can change what those lines are reporting by selecting from a series of tabs across the top of the screen. For example, the Hosts tab shows central processing unit (CPU) utilization, average load time, and memory use. Select the Network tab and you can see network utilization for traffic transmissions, receptions, and errors. There are also tabs for storage and processes. An Events tab shows you important happenings, such as a server shutting down, becoming overloaded, or as happened during our test, the agent service stopping.
Across the top of the screen, blue blocks appear to denote events as they happen on the timeline. Hover your mouse pointer over one and it provides a summary of the event. Click it and you’re taken to the Event page for more details. Likewise, you can hover your mouse pointer over any point on any of the lines to see the condition of the server at that particular point in time. This is particularly useful for identifying spikes as they appear, which also allows immediate attention to the specific device.
On the list of monitored devices below the graphs, you can see details of the operation in a list, which reports the condition of each device in real time. If you want to add the device to the series of devices being shown on the graphs, then you just need to click the “View” button on the left and it appears.
What’s Not Monitored
Unlike most of the competition reviewed here, including not only our Editors’ Choice MMSoft Pulseway but also most lesser-known players, like Connectwise Automate, New Relic Infrastructure does not natively monitor physical infrastructure. This means that your network devices that are not servers—including switches, routers, firewalls, or printers—do not appear in the monitoring lists. It also means that you have no way of looking at port utilization, network errors at the switch level, or overall switch utilization. The folks at New Relic say that you can use the New Relic application programming interface (API) to write some code that will allow such monitoring, but that there’s no support for Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) or other means of monitoring.
In addition, not all major distributions of Linux are supported. This meant that we had no means of monitoring our server running SuSE Linux Enterprise Server, something that all of the other infrastructure monitoring products were capable of handling. On the other hand, despite reports from the company that New Relic Infrastructure would only support Windows Server, we found that it worked perfectly on Microsoft Windows 10 Professional. In fact, it was more stable on Windows 10 than on Windows Server 2016 where the New Relic Infrastructure would occasionally stop running.
New Relic Infrastructure’s pricing model is complex. The New Relic Infrastructure Essentials plan costs $0.60 per instance per month or $7.20 per month per host. The Pro plan costs $1.20 per instance per month or $14.40 per month per host. The Pro plan gives you 13 months of data retention versus 3 months for Essentials. The Pro plan adds AWS Advanced Services, On-Host Integrations, and the software development kit (SDK).
There’s also a set of tiers for service-level commitments (SLAs) based on your annual spend. The greater the annual spend, the better service you get.
Strictly speaking, the New Relic Infrastructure service is not totally comparable. While it works in a similar fashion to other cloud-based infrastructure products, it’s really designed to be an integral part of the New Relic ecosystem. That ecosystem includes APM, the New Relic Browser, and the Synthetic monitoring function. However, you can use the infrastructure monitoring function as a standalone product.
If you have a large installation with a mix of on-premises and cloud-based servers, then New Relic Infrastructure is an excellent choice. You can monitor virtually any aspect of any server in your data center and in your cloud. Every significant event will be noted and you can set thresholds that will generate alerts to meet your needs. The graphical display makes it easy to keep an eye on critical systems and intervene when needed. However, it’s not a complete system because it only monitors servers. You will need something else for the rest of your infrastructure.
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