New Relic Aims to Preempt Docker Container Sprawl
A shipping container is moved with a crane before being loaded onto a ship docked at the Port of Oakland in Oakland, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

New Relic Aims to Preempt Docker Container Sprawl

Adds container support to application performance management platform

Although Docker containers may not be widely deployed in production environments just yet, monitoring those containers represents the next major challenge facing IT operations teams.

To address that issue New Relic announced that it will provide support for Docker containers within its Software Analytics Platform, a software-as-a-service platform used for application performance.

In addition, the company said it was making available a service map application to better identify IT resources strewn across the data center and streamlining its alert system to reduce IT operator fatigue.

Finally, New Relic also announced that it became a member of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, which oversees the development of an open source Platform-as-a-Service environment.

Patrick Lightbody, vice president of product management for New Relic, says the company has updated its agent software in a way that integrates its Software Analytics Platform with container management layer of a Docker container.

“A Docker container looks like just another host and operating system inside an IT environment, “says Lightbody. “We’re taking what is an opaque environment and making it transparent.”

He notes that while container sprawl has not yet become a major data center issue, it’s only a matter of time before it does. A physical server that can support 10 to 25 virtual machines can run hundreds of Docker containers. To make matters more challenging those Docker containers can run on physical servers, virtual machines, or in a cloud environment.

In general, containers are driving the emergence of micro-service architectures across the enterprise. While the concept of service-oriented architecture has been around for a long time, containers enable a more granular approach to delivering application services that developers are embracing from the bottom up.

For developers, containers represent a faster way to provision IT infrastructure resources. IT operations teams are now being challenged with finding ways to make sure those containers remain secure and isolated when running in a production environment.

To help better visualize an IT environment that is increasingly resembling the proverbial rat’s nest, Ligthbody says New Relic created a service map application that is an extension of the company’s application performance management service.

The issue that IT operations teams will soon face, says Lightbody, is not only tracking services across virtual and physical machines running in and out of the cloud, but also inside Docker containers that can be spun up by developers almost anywhere.

At this stage, most IT operations teams are not prepared to manage Docker containers in a production environment. But given the fact that it’s only a matter of time before Docker containers show up in large numbers, IT operations teams might want to start thinking in terms of an ounce of IT monitoring prevention now that will be worth a ton of Docker container management cure later on.

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