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LightStep targets developers with new observability tool

LightStep hones its observability software with its new Service Health for Deployments feature, which helps developers find and fix service health issues.

LightStep's new tool aims to help developers speed up and manage their deployments better by finding performance regressions in real time.

San Francisco-based LightStep makes observability software for developers building microservices and serverless apps. The company's recently introduced Service Health for Deployments feature helps developers quickly spot and resolve service health issues both during and after a deployment.

Developers can see all the latency, error ratio and throughput changes to their operations through the new tool. It also provides information on why a regression has occurred, including aggregate trace analysis from latency histogram comparisons, operations diagrams and an automated correlation engine for performing rapid root cause analysis.

In addition, the LightStep Instrumentation Quality Score shows developers how well their services are implemented and advises them on how to make improvements if needed.

Moreover, after a regression, Service Health for Deployments enables developers to perform root cause analysis to identify what went wrong. In addition, the product enables developers to proactively monitor deployments.

Observability goes beyond monitoring because it tries to account for unpredictable behavior by observing system behavior over time for deeper insights, said Cory Watson, technology director in the office of the CTO at SignalFX, a rival observability software vendor.

James Governor, analyst, RedMonkJames Governor

SignalFX and LightStep are trying to tackle a thorny problem facing coders today.

"Developers monitor when they know what it is that they need to monitor, but with something like observability, you don't know where the problems are; and you basically just want to observe everything," said Talia Moyal, senior product marketing manager at LightStep.

Indeed, observability systems seek to understand the internal state of a system by interrogating its outputs, said James Governor, an analyst at RedMonk in Portland, Maine.

"Some of observability's possibilities are a response to changes in software delivery and architecture -- i.e., microservices, while others are a function of new opportunities opened up by lower costs of network, compute and storage driven by hyperscale clouds," Governor said in a blog post.

Developers monitor when they know what it is that they need to monitor, but with something like observability, you don't know where the problems are; and you basically just want to observe everything.
Talia MoyalSenior product marketing manager, LightStep

Meanwhile, as LightStep introduces its new tool, it does so into a market in flux. The name of the game in the observability space is consolidation and churn.

Application Performance Management (APM) players are moving to include more observability concepts into their offerings, and those in the observability space are adding functionality through acquisition. APM tools typical just monitor and manage the performance and availability of software.

There have been several acquisitions in the observability software space, said KellyAnn Fitzpatrick, another RedMonk analyst, noting that Splunk acquired SignalFX and Omnition, while New Relic acquired IOpipe.

However, "LightStep sticks out to me as one of the remaining smaller, independent vendors in the observability space," Fitzpatrick said. "In this respect I think of them as similar to competitor Honeycomb.io; both companies have also been very vocal about the characteristics that define observability, especially in arguing that it should not be reduced to the three-pillar model -- traces, metrics and logs."

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