Introduction to distributed tracing

New Relic offers distributed tracing for monitoring and analyzing modern distributed systems. This document explains:

What is distributed tracing?

Modern applications and sites increasingly use many interconnected services. An application architecture that relies on many services or microservices is often referred to as a distributed system.

Distributed tracing is the process of tracking the activity resulting from a request to an application. With this feature, you can:

  • Trace the path of a request as it travels across a complex system
  • Discover the latency of the components along that path
  • Know which component in the path is creating a bottleneck

Distributed tracing from New Relic

Distributed tracing main UI page
rpm.newrelic.com/apm > (select an application) > Distributed tracing > Trace details: Once you select a trace, you can see its services and spans, including any anomalous spans. You can zoom in on a specific time range and examine a span's duration and other performance data. For more details about the UI, see the UI documentation.

Distributed tracing lets you see the path that a request takes as it travels through a distributed system. A distributed trace is composed of multiple spans, which represent time spent in services or resources of those services.

Distributed tracing features include:

Get distributed tracing

The distributed tracing feature can use data from a variety of sources. To enable, see the documentation for a specific data source:

Relationship to cross application tracing

Our distributed tracing feature replaces the previous cross application tracing feature. Compared to cross application tracing, distributed tracing gives more detail about cross-service activity and provides more complete end-to-end visibility.

For more help

Recommendations for learning more: