New Relic vs. Sentry vs. Scout
New Relic vs. Sentry vs. Scout
In the digital economy, software applications have become a primary product for a large number of companies. On top of that, customers expect a flawless user experience from the applications as it evolves.
To provide such a great experience, companies need to have powerful performance monitoring across their applications. We will discuss APM tools that are popular in the market right now and compare them in different aspects.
Feel free to use these links to navigate the guide:
- Overview of Differences
- Comparing Core Product Features
- Dashboards & User Interface
- Third-Party Integrations
- Installation Comparison
- Product Support
Overview of Differences
Sentry provides distributed transaction tracing with custom queries. It helps to track cross-project issues in a single dashboard view. Though it offers many features, its user experience is not the most beginner-friendly, and it has a learning curve to understand the dashboard and functionalities. In addition, Sentry lacks alert configuration; it lacks multiple logical grouping within the ‘if’ section of configurable alert.
Let’s talk about New Relic features and their limitations. First, it provides an easy setup for real-time instrumentation and analytics, mapping application performance to the end-user experience, and error analysis with on-demand analytics tools. In addition, it has better root cause analysis as it helps to analyze root cause through the flow of events for a particular process. When it comes to limitations, New Relic is expensive. For example, storage can be costly, especially if you keep the data for more than three months. In addition, on testing the New Relic integration with Node.js, transaction traces by default don't have much data.
Finally, let’s discuss Scout APM features, and it’s limitations. First, it provides detailed insights on application performance directly on the dashboard. For example, it identifies slow database queries, N+1 database queries, and memory bloat. It has better transaction traces by breaking down memory allocation in addition to timing metrics. As a result, Scout APM can easily backtrace slow method calls to identify performance bottlenecks.
Some of the limitations of Scout is that it provides agents mainly for Ruby, Elixir, Python, PHP, and Node.js applications. If you have applications running on Java, .NET, Go, Android and Dart, there is no agent out of the box.
Comparing Core Product Features
Let’s begin our comparison by discussing the core features of the APM tools in detail.
New Relic’s Features
New Relic has some core features that are among the primary features for some modern applications. Some of New Relic’s top core features include real-time instrumentation, tracking from performance to end-user experience, real-time error analysis, etc. Let’s discuss the features of New Relic in detail below.
Real-time Instrumentation and Analytics
New Relic is easy to set up, and it provides a standard dashboard out of the box. The dashboard provides essential metrics such as response time, throughput, error rate, and transactions. The analysis provides a clear understanding of the whole system’s performance.
New Relic helps you to understand your system performance. However, a drawback with profiling in New Relic is that the system load spikes when crushing data in the background. Another important feature of New Relic is handling microservices at the enterprise level. It uses the Service Maps feature to provide customizable dependency mapping across services.
Mapping Application Performance to the End-user Experience
New Relic clearly analyzes end-user experience through real-user monitoring, synthetic monitoring, and mobile app performance analysis.
It’s essential to track how many metrics change for each code deployment. New Relic provides a Deployment Marker to describe the impact of these code changes on your application. It’s important because you need to understand it for better business decision-making.
Real-Time Error Analysis With On-demand Diagnostic Tools
An APM tool’s essential function is to help the developer quickly understand the potential source of that issue and debug to find a solution when a problem occurs. New Relic agents provide the ability to analyze errors using an error stack trace, a message, and the specific line of code that’s wrong.
It provides a diagnostic tool such as Thread Profiler, which offers functionality to see periodic sampling in real application traces.
Sentry is a self-hosted, cloud-based application monitoring service that helps software teams discover, triage, and prioritize errors in real-time. Some of the core features of Sentry include custom queries for distributed tracking, tracking cross-project issues, tracing deployment and releases with necessary context, etc.
Sentry provides a query builder to construct custom queries to analyze the issues in a better way. For example, you can build custom queries on top of tags to analyze the issues and transactions.
Sentry lets you build a custom dashboard to provide a personalized experience for issues and performance analysis of your application. Custom dashboard helps track release frequency, issues by customer or region, or any other custom queries possible. On top of the custom dashboard, you can also create custom widgets/charts to show project-specific data on the dashboard.
Sometimes, an issue or performance bottleneck in one project can be related to another service or project. Sentry allows you to track it from one place instead of navigating between projects back and forth.
Sentry provides the necessary context to find and fix errors. In addition, it tracks each commit and tags to separate issues and performance bottlenecks that help fix the errors quickly.
Scout provides performance monitoring for Rails, Ruby, Python, Nodejs, PHP, and Elixir applications. Some of its core features include in-depth performance analysis, efficient transaction traces, and database monitoring.
In-depth Performance Analysis
Scout APM provides an algorithmic agent that digs through your application and provides in-depth analysis and insights. For example, it provides analysis on
- Slow database queries
- N+1 database queries
- Memory bloat
Efficient Transaction traces
Transaction traces analyze time spent on a single web request or execution of a single background job. When tracing transactions, Scout provides a complete breakdown of memory allocation and timing metrics crucial to analyzing the performance bottleneck.
On tracing SQL Queries to monitor the database performance, Scout indicates the row count returned by SQL queries which helps us monitor the database. Another essential feature is backtracking slow requests. There may be various reasons for a slow API request. Scout helps to backtrace it and eases the process of locating the performance bottleneck.
Monitoring a database is crucial for application performance. For example, an expensive query may cause other queries to run slower. So, it’s important to monitor and analyze them before they significantly impact our application.
- New Relic and sentry show metrics for expensive database queries. While it is good on a higher level, you also need to understand how each query performs so that you can optimize it. Scout charts display metrics for all queries and not just about expensive queries.
- Scout focuses on ActiveRecord metrics. At the same time, New Relic monitors beyond ActiveRecord. (Active Records provides an abstraction layer between code and data. So that we don’t need to write raw SQL queries. Object-relational mapping(ORM) uses this pattern).
- In Scout, it’s easy to compare a small slice’s performance with an average performance metric.
Error Monitoring Add-On
Scout provides a feature to monitor errors that allow developers to debug issues faster. Error Monitoring in Scout dashboard provides two categories. i.e., Error by Type and Error by Endpoint.
It also lists all the Issues along with the details for it. One of the main features of Scout Error monitoring is providing Error reporting and Application Monitoring data in one dashboard.
- Full-stack tracing.
- Requests and custom params.
- Monitoring error rates.
- Intelligent error grouping.
- GitHub integration for backtraces.
- Search functions.
- Real-time alerts via email.
Scout Error monitoring is currently available only for ruby applications. Support for other languages is coming soon.
Usability is an attribute that determines how easy an app is to use. It determines how easy & pleasant the features are to use in the APM tool. If a tool is difficult to use or users feel lost while moving through it, they start to leave. So, it is crucial to understand the user experience and use the right tool for yourself.
New Relic Usability
New Relic is clean and simple to set up and provides a quick overview of the application's performance. It has a feature called 'VM' that provides information regarding garbage collection, heap, memory and object allocation. For developers, it helps to monitor and debug queries and processes in an efficient way.
Even though it provides a quick overview with a simple setup, customizing the dashboard and view can become overwhelming once the application data starts to grow. It has a learning curve to learn about the view and metrics.
Sentry UI is best for handling cross-projects in a single dashboard. It is also easy to create issues in GitHub and plots as per application or website. Another important feature of sentry is the ability to integrate multiple reports to create a custom one from multiple projects.
Although it seems to be better at handling multiple projects, the project setup UI is not intuitive. Handling events and errors need improvement. For example, if the same error occurs hundreds or thousands of times, it would be helpful to filter out single events by the operating system or device model instead of just general error filtering.
It’s hard to limit the project visibility based on the user. Other teams have a view on all the company projects. Also, the UI for managing teams and users is not always intuitive.
Scout is the most developer-friendly performance monitoring tool. One of the primary advantages of Scout is its simplicity. The dashboards are simple and easy to use. It is so easy to navigate between different metrics such as throughput, errors, memory, and apdex score. It provides primary insights into the main dashboard itself, which comes in handy.
Sometimes, the advantages of Scout can become a disadvantage. Due to Scout’s streamlined performance insights, not all metrics for all web endpoints can be ingested. However, all important metrics and insights needed for actionable insights are clearly and intuitively visualized.
Dashboards & User Interface
Data Visualization is crucial to understand what kind of data a tool collects. It is as important as data collection, monitoring, etc.
A simple user interface directly relates to better navigation. Therefore, it is important for an APM tool to have a simpler UI and navigation across data and projects.
Sentry dashboard provides data visualization of errors and transactions throughout the organization. It has a custom view to keep a pulse on most of the critical parts of business. It navigates to trace the errors using different filters such as by URL etc.
The dashboard shows a number of errors, issues, and events. It also displays handled and unhandled issue counts along with affected users.
Performance & Transactions
The performance page shows the summary of transaction traces and a list of the transaction. Upon selecting the transaction, you can view your Apdex score, event, and more details about this particular transaction.
Issues & Alerts
The issues page on the dashboard displays issues in three categories.
- For Review
Selecting the issue shows the particular code in the codebase where the problem happened. It also shows the commit details along with transaction traces.
New Relic Dashboards
Here are some of the most striking features of dashboards provided by New Relic:
Web transaction time shows the time it took for each transaction. On the top right, you have Apdex score (user satisfaction), throughput, etc.
In the middle, you get details about each transaction and its response time. Finally, the error rate shows the overall error rate and its average.
New Relic provides cross-application tracing if your app is dependent on another application you have monitored with NewRelic. This includes a list of expensive transactions and their details.
It shows all the web endpoints and their resource consumption. It also shows the top 5 web transactions and their throughput.
When you click on the web endpoint, it details its performance breakdown, throughput, and transaction traces. In addition, a histogram displays the details about transaction response time.
Database Monitoring shows the full database operation by its time consumption, query time, and throughput. You can sort the database queries by most time consumed.
Scout offers some of the simplest yet most powerful dashboards in the market. Here are some of the most important features of Scout’s dashboards:
Scout dashboard shows the overview of different categories. They are,
- Response time
- Memory consumption
- Apdex Score
Scout digs through the data and generates great insights into application performance. For example, it provides metrics and insights on slow database queries, N+1 database queries, and memory bloat.