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New Relic takes on notifications overload problem with SignifAI buy

Stuart Lauchlan Profile picture for user slauchlan February 6, 2019
New Relic is tackling a daily problem for developers - too many alerts!

Lew Cirne

New Relic has acquired SignifAI, an “event intelligence company specializing in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)" in a move that the firm says will allow “modern software teams advanced technology to predict and address performance issues”.

From the formal announcement, the benefits of SignifAI delivers AI and ML-powered correlations for Software Engineering teams include:

  • Faster Mean time-to-Resolution (MTTR) with automatic correlation, aggregation and prioritization of alerts to help teams focus on what matters most.
  • Automated predictive insights and recommended solutions to resolve issues faster.
  • Efficient root cause analysis, with automatically enriched issues containing all the relevant logs, events and metrics that teams need, regardless of the timeframe.

The acquisition is part of a game plan that will see expanded platform capabilities from New Relic, according to CEO Lew Cirne, and tackles a daily problem encountered by DevOps teams everywhere:

These teams frequently have fragmented monitoring tools and when something goes wrong in production, they received multiple alerts from each of these tools. Our customers often call it an alert storm. You can imagine how overwhelming this is, especially for complex environments. What results is what our customers call alert fatigue.

Enterprises are inundated with alerts. So they know that something's wrong, but they don't exactly know where to look to solve the problem. What I love about SignifAI is that their technology fits above these monitoring tools, ingests the alert data and then applies intelligence to it, telling you where to look to solve the problem.

He adds:

What SignifAI does is they take as input alerts or alarms coming from any monitoring product. Imagine it's kind of analogous to your phone when a notification goes ring and bang. If it happens over and over and over again, it'll drive you nuts. That's what our customers are dealing with today. When something goes wrong in production, it won't be just one alert they receive. They might receive 10, 20, 30 alerts and they don't know how to make sense of it all is too much.

SignifAI is the best at correlating these alerts into one cohesive, logical, outcome that is actionable. That includes alerts from any monitoring products including, on-premise APM (Application Performance Management) products or other products that some of our unfortunate customers might be struggling with today.


Elsewhere New Relic has just turned in another strong quarter with revenues of $124 million and GAAP loss of $8.5 million, beating analyst expectations. As of the end of calendar 2018, the firm can now boast 816 $100k+ customers, up from 629 at the end of 2017. The company has also secured its first account with Annual Recurring Revenue of $10 million via an expansion of an existing contract. This was a long-standing customer, according to Cirne::

I think we've done well over 100 individual transactions with his customer over the course of our relationship. They have all of the products in our platform, and have had for some time. One thing that was a nice catalyst to accelerate their investment was our introduction of an EDP structure…It will allow the customer to have some flexibility on how they allocate across the products. They knew they wanted to consume more, but it was taking a fair bit of effort to estimate precisely how much APM they would want, precisely how much insights they would want and same for mobile and browser and synthetics.

They knew they wanted to grow all of them. And so we gave them the flexibility to do that and that gave them comfort stepping up to the $10 million level per year.vWe intend for this to be a fruitful partnership and we believe that there is more growth ahead in that particular account. And it's emblematic of what we hope to do with many other customers like this one.

Such customers might include the likes of Manulife, Canada’s largest corporation, where New Relic has a strong presence. Cirne says:

Manulife as a global insurance and financial services provider with millions of customers in Canada, the United States, and Asia, individuals and organizations around the world look to Manulife for help with their most important financial decisions.

This company is undergoing a digital transformation as they invest in strengthening direct relationships with their customers through digital channels, but as software becomes increasingly critical to the success of their global business, Manulife is found that they were spending too much time managing multiple on-premise monitoring solutions.

They needed a single, highly-integrated, high-velocity DevOps platform to succeed. That's why Manulife standardized on New Relic globally to make it as easy as possible to build, deploy, and operate their mission-critical applications using our cloud-native DevOps platform. We are empowering Manulife teams with real-time data that they need to innovate at scale.

The need for real-time data remains a powerful selling point, explains Cirne:

In order to be successful with digital, you must be continually using data to understand, what's the customer experience? What is the performance? What is the health of the system? And how do I feel comfortable continually making changes to that production software in order to continually make it great?

Digital projects don't succeed if you can only update them once a quarter. In order to introduce that level of change, you must be watching a good precision, second by second. So we're up in more mature shops that have some understanding of best practices, like DevOps, understand that they need to be thinking about real-time visibility, well-diversified, and they all bring us into the project well before launch date. We watch the successful launch, and then we continually inform our customers on how to make it better.

There has been an evolution in the type of users that New Relic is seeing, observes Cirne, building on the traditional developer “champions”, operations people and DevOps teams:

The new kind of persona that we're starting to see more of is, as we go into these large accounts, for example, these multi-million dollar customers, there are centralized centers of excellence whose job it is to empower teams of developers to be more productive and an effective and adopted DevOps culture within the company. So these are internal thought leaders in centers of excellence that provide New Relic and some other tools as a standard suite that enables these software teams to move faster. And They have their own requirements that we are keenly aware of and focus on, which is a little different. They're not doing the troubleshooting, but they make sure that teams are able to troubleshoot themselves.

What that third constituency loves and values about us that they see is highly differentiated, is ease of use. So what I often hear is that for competitive tools, particularly APM tools, it's almost like you need a PhD in that tool to use it. If you're trying to federate responsibility for these tools throughout a large organization, it's too hard to do because the tools are too hard to use and that impacts your ability to move faster. So they love New Relic for its ease of use and TCO.

My take

Another strong quarter and an interesting and savvy acquisition to build out additional capabilities. And as ever, the bringing of customer exemplars to the table helps to tell the story.

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