New Relic open sources Pixie, its Kubernetes-native in-cluster observability platform

Want to know what's really going on in your Kubernetes cluster? Pixie, which just became a Cloud Native Computing Foundation program, can help.

The good news is that cloud computing, Kubernetes, and cloud-native computing have combined to make software development faster and more powerful than ever. The bad news is that keeping an eye on all that is harder than ever. That's why New Relic's contribution of Pixie, its Kubernetes-native in-cluster observability platform, which is in the process of becoming a Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) project under the Apache 2.0 license is good news. 


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Pixie is a new observability platform for cloud-native applications. With it, developers can see all of their applications' metrics, events, logs, and traces with a single shell command. With Pixie, you don't need to add instrumentation code, set up ad hoc dashboards, or move data off of the cluster, to see what's going on. This will save you valuable time so you can work on building better software instead of better ways of monitoring it.

The program is deployed as a set of Kubernetes services within the monitored cluster. Pixie, in short, is a native Kubernetes program. Its Pixie Edge Modules (PEM) are deployed as DaemonSets. Within your clusters, PEMs leverage Pixie's eBPF program to collect network transactions and system metrics with no code changes.

Mark Carter, Amazon Web Services (AWS) general manager of observability services, added: "With eBPF, a new instrumentation capability in Linux that is supported by the Pixie Platform, developers and operators can take advantage of a new observability superpower."

This is very handy. As Bill Staples, New Relic president, blogged: "The dynamic, distributed nature of these [cloud-native] environments presents a new set of observability challenges. We believe an open-source, community-driven approach is the best way to address these challenges." Therefore, by using OpenTelemetry as the instrumentation standard, both analysis and troubleshooting are made much easier. 

Staples continued: "With one command, you can light up your entire cloud environment and get telemetry immediately. We believe all developers should get access to this phenomenal developer experience that reduces friction to observability and saves valuable time that you can use for developing better software. To make that happen, we are also devoting a majority of Pixie's engineering resources to this open-source project."

Looking ahead, Zain Asgar, GM of Pixie and New Relic Open Source at New Relic and CEO and co-founder of the recently acquired Pixie Labs, said: "Open source is a defining value for New Relic and Pixie, which is why we are standardizing our observability offerings with OpenTelemetry and are in the process of contributing Pixie as an open-source project. We have seen the positive impact of open governance on open source projects first-hand, and we look forward to supporting this initiative on an industry-wide level through our [new] Platinum membership in CNCF."

Pixie Open Source will also now run on AWS as a secure, production-ready, AWS-supported distribution of the OpenTelemetry project. 

Priyanka Sharma, CNCF general manager, welcomed Relic to the group: "We are pleased to welcome New Relic as a Platinum member and to add Zain Asgar to our board. Zain and New Relic's commitment to furthering our mission and supporting our community will go a long way. We look forward to their nuanced expertise and perspective on observability in particular."

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