Getting Started with New Relic APM Pro

We recently announced New Relic APM Pro as a freely available feature for all sites on the platform. We’re excited to do anything we can to help Drupal and WordPress developers build better performing websites, and New Relic APM Pro is the standard. Whether you’re new to the platform or not, this post will help you get APM Pro set up on your Pantheon projects.

Get Up And Running

First, go to the Pantheon site dashboard you want to add New Relic on. Click the New Relic tab, and then click, “Activate New Relic Pro.”

Visit any environment for the site, and wait a few minutes. Once New Relic has data, you’ll see the environments listed with a link.

Wait for it….

Tempting though it may be, don’t click on that link first. Instead, click on the “Go to New Relic” button.

Accept the terms of service, and you’ve got access. You’ll land at the applications page for the account. The site itself is called an ‘Account’ inside of New Relic, and active environments—Dev, Test, Live, and Multidev environments for the site are listed as ‘Applications’.

Everyone with access to your Pantheon site dashboard will be able to access the account through the same button. Once anyone is logged into the site account, they can click on the links inside of the table at the Pantheon site dashboard and go straight to the New Relic application dashboard they need to review.

Using New Relic to Monitor Your Site

New Relic will automatically track performance metrics for each environment in your site. You’ll find useful data for WordPress hooks, plugins, and themes, and Drupal modules, hooks, and views, and will be able to relate that to the information in the Transactions tab. Database metrics will track operation times for MySQL and Redis, if Redis is enabled on your site.

Learning to use New Relic APM will come with use, but you'll also receive useful information via email over the next couple of weeks. If you want to get the most out of the tool, open up the messages and click through to New Relic's resources. If you want to immerse yourself in video, I recommend checking out the New Relic University video courses Intro to APM and APM advanced to get going.

Useful Tips

Beyond the basics, New Relic has several useful features for web development teams.

Add Deployment Marking

This one is the biggest no-brainer. I set a Quicksilver script to record deployments in New Relic any time I commit code in Dev/Multidev environments, and when I deploy code to Test and Live. Marking commits as deployments encourages me to commit early and to use the application in a Multidev environment to evaluate its performance before I deploy.

Uptime Monitoring

New Relic on Pantheon comes with lite/free versions of all of New Relic’s other products, including Synthetics. Do not use the (legacy) availability monitor in APM. Instead, set up ping monitors in Synthetics.  If the site goes down, you’ll be the first to know.

Real User Monitoring (Page Load Timing)

Drupal’s performance and caching settings prevent New Relic from accurately measuring page load times. You can get around this by adding some php to your theme. This is useful for the metrics included in the Browser product. WordPress sites can follow a similar technique, or install the New Relic Browser plugin to add the required javascript.

Alerts!

Knowing when you have performance issues is half the battle. While New Relic is always watching your site, you’re not always watching New Relic. Set sane alert policies, and configure communication channels for New Relic to tell you when your application needs attention. You can also configure New Relic to automatically create issues in an issue tracker, such as Basecamp, Pivotal, or Jira.

Key Transactions

If you have an important metric to track, or have reports of an inconsistently performing transaction, mark it as a key transaction, and set an alert policy just for it. Route those alerts directly to the team who is most interested, then wait. Avoid repeatedly digging into the same transaction issue.

Reports for Managers

New Relic compiles your data into useful reports, giving you an idea of the performance of your site over time. The SLA report tracks pageviews, load times, and apdex for users, and # of requests, response times, and apdex for the application server. You can view daily, weekly, and monthly comparisons. Availability and scalability reports tell you whether your site was up, and whether it will handle a traffic spike, respectively. Finally, New Relic provides historical reports for all of your application’s transactions, database operations, and background jobs.

Notes and Embeds

Want to share a set of graphs with your client or another team member? Create a note. You can also embed your metrics in a blog post. Just hover over the graph and select, “Add to Note” or “Embed.” If you’re sharing with someone who doesn’t have access to your New Relic account, make the note public.

Closing

New Relic APM Pro is a big application, and spending time getting to know it will save your end users and clients precious fractions of seconds. We all know by now how valuable those small slices of time are to someone who needs the information hosted on your site.


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Topics Drupal, WordPress