Datadog: Data Visualization and Monitoring for DevOps Engineers

Image of a laptop with many graphs and metrics being displayed.
Real-time data is essential to a successful IT department.

When monitoring applications and microservices, you should be able to see everything from a central location. This way, you can react quickly if an issue arises. If you want to properly monitor your environments, you need a good monitoring tool. To this end, have you considered Datadog? It’s been making major waves in the digital ocean! This tool helps visualize, track, and follow system data for active IT operations. 

In this article, I’ll introduce you to Datadog and show you its main features and how you can use it. You’ll also learn how it stacks up against other cloud monitoring services, Finally, I’ll run through the pricing tiers. Let’s get to it!

What Is Datadog?

Datadog is known as cloud monitoring as a service. You can also classify iy as a software as a service (SaaS). Datadog allows you to see into your stacks, applications, and networks at any time. From there, you get real-time performance and data monitoring. Let’s look at the main features Datadog offers your company. 

Datadog’s Main Features

  • Helps create, edit, and manage alerts and notifications about the company’s infrastructure. This includes cloud services, on-prem servers, applications, metrics, etc.
  • Can pipe out notifications via email, Slack, Teams, etc. 
  • Offers customizable dashboards. That way, you can focus on the data and applications that matter most to you
  • Provides Application Performance Monitoring (APM). In turn, it can reduce latency and eliminate errors.
  • Collects and reviews log output
  • Allows you to test against production environments to test quality and performance
  • Detects threats and misconfigurations
  • Supports programming languages such as Java, Python, PHP, .NET, Go, Node, and Ruby
  • Supports cloud service providers like AWS, Azure, OpenShift, Google Cloud Platform, and Pivotal Platform
  • Offers API integrations with Kubernetes, Chef, Puppet, Ansible, Bitbucket, and Ubuntu

Datadog is clearly feature-packed. It can also serve many different use cases. Let me show you how you can use it in your business.

Datadog Use Cases

Datadog has many use cases, including: 

  • On-prem monitoring
  • DevOps
  • Security analysis
  • Cloud migration
  • Internet of Things (IoT) monitoring
  • Machine learning
  • Hybrid cloud monitoring 
  • Shift-left testing
  • Digital experience monitoring 
  • Log analysis and correlation
  • Compliance with CIS benchmarks
  • Real-time BI

More specifically, Datadog offers additional benefits with its DevOps use case. Let’s examine these. 

Feature for DevOps!

For DevOps, Datadog has a feature called Autodiscovery, which allows you to use monitoring automation! Autodiscovery is an automated process that checks configurations and monitoring-as-code integrations. It also uses configuration management and deployment tools. If you’re a DevOps engineer, you’ll know everything is working properly. You’ll have intel on your CI/CD systems, configuration management tools, and orchestration platforms. Additionally, Autodiscover sends you notifications if something doesn’t work as expected. Then, you can quickly react and remedy the problem. 

You can find lots of other data monitoring SaaS in the market. Let me introduce you to a couple of other tools and show you how one in particular measures up to Datadog.

Alternatives and Competitors 

Datadog isn’t the only big dog in the monitoring SaaS pool. Here are 2 tools that are particularly popular in the space: 

  1. Prometheus. Prometheus is a popular open-source monitoring tool. This tool uses PromQL, a query language to check out metrics and create graphs. Through these graphs, you can monitor your apps’ performance. Prometheus also allows you to use time-series data.
  2. AppDynamics. AppDynamics is also a well-known paid monitoring platform from Cisco. This tool has a cool end-user monitoring (EUM) feature. AppDynamics also shows user interactions with the application. That way, it leads to quicker resolution times.

However, these two tools don’t really have the same functionality as Datadog. Instead, let me talk to you about another data monitoring tool, called Splunk. 

Splunk Overview

Splunk is a popular log management tool used to monitor, search, analyze, and visualize data. It also captures, indexes, and correlates raw unstructured data. To get this data, it monitors devices in real-time. Then, Splunk converts data into more digestible formats. It lets you create dashboards, graphs, and visualizations.

Splunk gives you access to all log data in one place for easy analysis. Splunk will also keep 100% of the metrics, traces, logs, and streaming analytics.

Finally, Splunk is well-suited for analyzing data. It can also support multiple data formats. That includes CSV, XML, and JSON files. Developers can then further analyze this exported data. Splunk also starts at $65 per host per month, billed yearly. 

Splunk vs Datadog

To help you clearly see the difference between the two monitoring tools, I’ve created this handy comparison table.

FeatureDatadogSplunk
Data focusReal-time data, actionable dataLog management
DashboardCustomizable Non-customizable 
Installation Cloud Cloud and self-hosted
AlertsNative, customizable Non-native alerts
Integration More than 500 technologiesAround 100 technologies
Subscription Paid and starts from $15Paid and starts from $65
Datadog vs Splunk

The Verdict

Datadog is geared more toward performance of applications, servers, databases, and infrastructure. This also allows DevOps engineers to view everything in real time. Then, they can act accordingly if they detect an issue.  However, Splunk’s support for multiple data formats can be a big advantage over Datadog. It just depends on what formats you’re working on. You’ll also have to consider what you’re trying to do with the data. After that, you can choose which monitoring SaaS is best for you.

Eventually, if you’re leaning toward Datadog, you’ll need to know how much it costs you. Let’s break down this tool’s pricing tiers and features. 

Datadog’s Pricing Tiers

Datadog has 3 pricing tiers and different features available for each price point. The free plan may be good for testing, but it likely won’t give you added long-term benefits. Consider this table below to clearly see the difference between the 3 plans.

Free Plan ($0)Pro Plan ($15)Enterprise Plan ($23)
Metric Retention 1 day of retention, max 5 hosts15-months, unlimited hosts15-months, unlimited hosts
IntegrationsLimited More than 500More than 500
Out-of-the-Box DashboardsNoYesYes
Tech SupportNoNoYes, chat, email, phone
Unlimited AlertsNoNoYes
Choose the best plan for you!

The Bottom Line

If you want to implement a data monitoring solution, you should first identify your organization’s needs. After that, you can compare different tools’ offerings. Generally, Datadog is a well-rounded monitoring tool with plenty of useful features.

Datadog also offers added functionality for DevOps engineers. It even comes at three different price points, so you don’t need to break the bank. Finally, it has many cool features and visualization options. It’s no wonder, then, that it’s a popular monitoring tool for DevOps and other IT fields!

If you’re ready to take the plunge and set up Datadog, I also have a guide coming soon for you. I’ll show you how to set it up and connect it to your applications. Stay tuned! 

Do you have more questions about Datadog? Check out the FAQ and Resources sections below.

FAQ

What is so special about Datadog?

Datadog combines infrastructure, application performance, log, and user experience monitoring. This combination is actually rare, so it puts Datadog ahead of the competition. Currently, only Splunk and AppDynamics offer this same blend of monitoring functionality. 

What is the difference between Datadog and Splunk?

While they offer the same combination of monitoring services, they differ in broad terms. Datadog monitors the performance of infrastructure, databases, servers, and applications. On the other hand, Splunk focuses on analyzing the data from machines and translating it into JSON or another format. That way developers can further analyze the data. Thus, think real-time for Datadog, long-term trends for Splunk. 

What is Datadog RUM?

RUM stands for Real User Monitoring. This service from Datadog allows you to monitor the front-end applications. It also allows you to see if any bugs or performance issues exist. Ideally, the RUM service finds the issues before the customers do. That way, you can ensure your users have a smooth experience on your site. 

Does Datadog work with Kubernetes?

Yes, Datadog works very well with Kubernetes clusters. It automatically detects services running in Kubernetes clusters and monitors them. Datadog also has a Watchdog feature. It uses AI to detect and single out unexpected performance. In this way, the automatic configuration on Kubernetes will save engineers valuable setup and configuration time. 

What is shift-left testing?

Shift-left testing is just another way to test early and often. The idea behind this is to uncover issues or bugs as early as possible. If left undiscovered, bugs can waste time and money in a business. To support shift-left testing, Datadog also integrates with CI/CD processes and provides real-time feedback on test results and behavior. 

Resources

TechGenix: Article on Security Through Virtualization 

Learn how virtualization can better protect your systems.

TechGenix: Article on Manually Deploying the Hyper-V Integration Services 

Learn how Hyper-V integration services went from manual to automatic deployments. 

TechGenix: Article on Introducing Nested Virtualization in Windows Server 2016

Learn about how virtualization in Windows Server 2016 affects your IT systems. 

TechGenix: Review: Guide on Cloud and On-premises Monitoring Software Site 24×7

Learn about Site24x7 and how it protects your infrastructure by providing the monitoring tools you need. 

TechGenix: Nmap: Guide on A Free Open-source Network Monitoring Tool

Learn about Nmap and what you can monitor on your IT system with this open-source tool. 

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