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Datadog APM: Features, Pricing, and How to Get Started

  • 8 min read

What Is Datadog APM? 

Datadog APM (Application Performance Monitoring) is a tool that provides visibility into your applications, helping you build, deploy, and troubleshoot them faster. It is a part of the Datadog platform, which provides infrastructure management, application performance monitoring, log management, and user experience tracking.

Datadog APM helps organizations understand how each part of the application contributes to its overall performance. It provides the means to see inside the code, identify issues, and find ways to optimize performance. This ability to “look under the hood” of an application is invaluable, especially in a complex, distributed environment where services interact across multiple systems.

With Datadog APM, you can trace requests from end-to-end across distributed systems, visualize service dependencies, and drill down into granular performance data.

In this article, you will learn:

Key Capabilities of Datadog APM 

Code-Level Distributed Tracing

Code-level distributed tracing allows you to follow a request through the application, from the front-end user interface through to the various services and databases that make up the back-end.

This distributed tracing feature works in real time, meaning you can instantly see where bottlenecks occur, where errors are thrown, and which parts of the code are slow or inefficient. This is useful for identifying and addressing performance issues before they impact users.

In addition to identifying issues, Datadog APM provides the tools to fix them. The detailed trace data allows you to see the exact lines of code responsible for a problem, which makes debugging easier.

Telemetry Data in Context

Datadog APM allows you to view telemetry data in context. This means you can see traces, metrics, and logs for any given request in one unified view. With this, you can correlate performance data across multiple sources, making it easier to understand the wider impact of any given issue.

For example, if a particular service is running slowly, you can view the corresponding metrics and logs alongside the trace data. This might reveal high CPU usage, error messages in the logs, or other indicators of the underlying problem. By tying these different data points together, you can gain a fuller picture of what’s going on and make more informed decisions about how to address the issue.

Watchdog AI

The Watchdog AI feature continuously scans your application data to automatically detect anomalies and potential issues. It eliminates the need to manually sift through large volumes of alerts and data.

With Watchdog AI, you can proactively identify and address issues before they escalate into larger problems. It alerts you to unusual patterns or outliers in your application’s performance data, which could signify emerging problems or opportunities for optimization. It can also speed up incident resolution by identifying possible causes of a production incident.

Open Source Vulnerability Detection

Datadog APM includes an open source vulnerability detection feature, which scans the application in production for known security vulnerabilities. This allows you to identify and address potential security risks before they can be exploited. This ensures that your application is being continuously monitored for security risks, alongside its performance.

Datadog APM Pricing 

Datadog APM offers tiered pricing options tailored to different scales of operation and feature needs. The tiers are as follows:

APM Basic

Starting at $31 per host, per month when billed annually (or $36 on-demand), this plan includes:

  • Automatic service discovery and dependency mapping.
  • Real-time visibility with 15-minute live trace search and analytics.
  • Retention of historical data for 15 days and metric data for 15 months.
  • Correlation of traces with metrics, logs, processes, network data, and more.

APM Pro

Priced at $35 per host, per month with annual billing (or $42 on-demand), this plan builds upon the APM tier with:

  • Enhanced capabilities for data streams monitoring.
  • Automatic dependency mapping of all queues, consumers, and producers.
  • Latency and consumer lag metrics for end-to-end pipeline analysis.
  • Detection features for faults within the queue.

APM Enterprise

At the top of the range, starting at $40 per host, per month with annual billing (or $48 on-demand), the Enterprise tier encompasses all APM Pro features and adds:

  • Continuous profiling for code-level performance optimization.
  • Detailed tracing including wall, CPU, and I/O time.
  • Profiling for CPU and memory to aid in resource and cost optimization.
  • Comparative analysis of code performance across different versions.
  • Actionable insights through automatic code analysis.

Learn more in our detailed guide to Datadog pricing (coming soon)

Getting Started with Datadog APM  

When you install or update a Datadog Agent with the Enable APM Instrumentation option selected, the Agent is automatically installed and configured to enable APM, and your application is automatically instrumented, without any additional installation or configuration steps. Just restart services for instrumentation to take effect.

Note: Single step APM instrumentation is only supported for Java, Python, Ruby, Node.js, and .NET Core services on x86_64 and arm64 architectures.

For example, on Linux, you can install, configure, and start the Agent with APM and Remote Configuration enabled using this one-line install command:

DD_API_KEY=<YOUR_DD_API_KEY> DD_SITE=”<YOUR_DD_SITE>” DD_APM_INSTRUMENTATION_ENABLED=host bash -c “$(curl -L https://s3.amazonaws.com/dd-agent/scripts/install_script_agent7.sh)”

Replace <YOUR_DD_API_KEY> with your Datadog API and <YOUR_DD_SITE> with your Datadog site.

You can add the flag DD_ENV in your one-time Linux installation command to indicate that the services and telemetry you are monitoring belong to a specific environment. For example, if the Agent is deployed in a production environment, you can add DD_ENV=production, as follows:

DD_API_KEY=<YOUR_DD_API_KEY> DD_SITE=”<YOUR_DD_SITE>” DD_APM_INSTRUMENTATION_ENABLED=host DD_ENV=production bash -c “$(curl -L https://s3.amazonaws.com/dd-agent/scripts/install_script_agent7.sh)”

Similar Datadog Services 

The following Datadog services can also be useful if you are looking to collect data about the performance and operating characteristics of your applications.

Datadog Real User Monitoring

Datadog Real User Monitoring (RUM) provides detailed insights into how end users interact with your applications, enabling you to optimize user experience and performance.

With Datadog RUM, you can visualize user sessions, track user journeys, and identify performance bottlenecks. This helps you understand how different factors, such as network conditions or device types, impact user experience. You can then use this information to fine-tune your applications and ensure optimal performance.

Datadog RUM integrates seamlessly with other Datadog products, including Datadog APM. This lets you correlate front-end and back-end data, providing a holistic view of your application’s performance.

Datadog Synthetic Testing

Datadog Synthetic Testing allows you to proactively test your applications and APIs to identify issues before they impact end users.

Datadog Synthetic Testing supports both API tests and browser tests. API tests allow you to monitor the uptime and performance of your APIs, while browser tests enable you to validate critical user journeys within your applications.

This tool can run tests from different locations worldwide. It allows you to understand how your applications and APIs perform in various geographic regions, helping you to deliver a consistent user experience across the globe.

Learn more in our detailed guide to Datadog monitoring (coming soon)

Top Datadog Alternatives 

While Datadog offers a comprehensive suite of APM tools, it’s important to consider other alternatives in the market. Here are some notable options:

Coralogix

Coralogix is a full-stack observability platform that provides real-time insights and long-term trend analysis with no reliance on expensive storage or indexing. 

Coralogix APM empowers you to see the behavior of your entire system at a glance and dive into the health of any single application in unprecedented detail. Learn more about Coralogix APM.

Dynatrace

Dynatrace is a cloud-based software intelligence platform that places a special focus on application performance monitoring (APM). It can automatically detect and diagnose complex performance issues, ensuring optimal application performance and user experience. 

Dynatrace provides end-to-end visibility across the technology stack, from applications and services to infrastructure and cloud environments. Its features include real-user monitoring, synthetic monitoring, and infrastructure monitoring. Additionally, Dynatrace offers digital experience monitoring, which helps in understanding how users interact with applications and identifying potential areas for improvement.

Grafana

Grafana is an open-source platform for monitoring and observability. It is widely recognized for its visualization capabilities, allowing users to create dynamic and interactive dashboards. Grafana supports multiple data sources, including Prometheus and Elasticsearch, enabling users to visualize data from a variety of systems in a single dashboard. 

Its features include various graphing options, alerting mechanisms, and annotation capabilities, which are useful for tracking events and understanding trends over time. Grafana’s customizable nature allows it to cater to a wide range of use cases, from IT operations to IoT applications.

Learn more in our detailed guide to Grafana vs Datadog (coming soon)

Prometheus

Prometheus is an open-source monitoring and alerting toolkit, primarily used for collecting and analyzing metrics from containerized environments. It is known for its efficient time-series data storage and its query language, PromQL, which allows for detailed and complex data analysis. 

Prometheus’s architecture includes a multi-dimensional data model and a flexible query interface, making it highly effective for monitoring the performance of distributed systems. It also supports automatic service discovery and dynamic target monitoring, which simplifies the process of monitoring in dynamic and cloud-based environments. Prometheus is commonly used in combination with Grafana for visualizing the collected data.

Learn more in our detailed guide to Datadog alternatives 

Conclusion

In conclusion, Datadog APM is a versatile tool that provides code-level distributed tracing, telemetry data context, AI capabilities, and open source vulnerability detection. It provides tiered pricing options ranging from basic monitoring to advanced analytics and profiling.

While Datadog is a respected and capable tool, we also presented alternatives like Coralogix, Dynatrace, Grafana, and Prometheus, each of which presents unique capabilities and advantages.

Learn more about Coralogix APM

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