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A headshot of Robert Belson

The mobile edge introduces complexity in application observability that, at first blush, seems insurmountable. However, by working with the Pixie team, we embedded automation and observability into the architectures that customers are using today. And by doing so, we introduced powerful insights out of the box for the developer community.

Robert Belson
Developer Relations Lead, Corporate Strategy at Verizon

Verizon 5G Edge is a mobile-edge computing platform that helps developers and businesses build applications with ultra-high reliability and low latency. Behind the scenes, Verizon 5G Edge supports Kubernetes clusters for developers to use in the 19 Amazon Web Services (AWS) Wavelength Zones nationwide. The more clusters and zones, the more pathways phones and other devices have to achieve optimal performance.

Challenge: Innovating and improving the developer experience on Verizon 5G Edge

Developers could not debug their workloads deployed on Verizon 5G Edge nodes. Edge computing environments are distinct enough to create architectural constraints for traditional application performance monitoring (APM) and Kubernetes monitoring. Specifically, edge computing nodes:

  • Are resource-constrained with limited memory and network capacity
  • Require a three-level architecture with edge agents connecting to centralized cluster agents that connect back to a cloud monitoring service. Traditional APM tools have a two-level architecture with cluster agents connecting back to the cloud monitoring service.

Without enough visibility, the developer experience on the Verizon 5G Edge proved prohibitively difficult. This was a serious problem that made the value of investing in the edge unclear.

Solution: Instant observability for Kubernetes workloads using auto-telemetry with Pixie

Verizon chose New Relic auto-telemetry with Pixie for its application performance monitoring (APM) and Kubernetes monitoring solutions:

  • Pixie PEM (agents) are lightweight
  • Pixie PEM (agents) can be installed in a three-level architecture where agents on edge nodes relay data to central Kubernetes clusters, which send data back to the New Relic cloud monitoring service

As a result, developers on Verizon 5G Edge get instant observability for their Kubernetes workloads and can drive greater adoption by businesses looking to build applications on new platforms.

Out-of-the-box instrumentation: On the path toward full automation

The Pixie integration with New Relic provides automatic observability of Kubernetes applications’ performance. Pixie, an open-source tool, has earned its popularity for good reason. There’s no need for manual instrumentation; instead, Pixie uses an extended Berkeley Packet Filter (eBPF) to capture telemetry data automatically. Developers can use Pixie to view the high-level state of their clusters and also drill down to more detailed views.

“Imagine a scenario where you notice that gigabytes on gigabytes of data are being exchanged from the edge back to the parent region. You could actually use these insights to re-architect your edge application and introduce efficiencies in your end-to-end workflows,” says Robert Belson, developer relations lead, corporate strategy at Verizon. “In this way, Pixie on Verizon 5G Edge can be used not only as an observability tool but also as an architectural asset.”

In addition, Verizon and New Relic collaborated on a Terraform module where developers simply needed to provide their Pixie deploy key, Pixie API key, and Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) cluster name. Everything else was built-in. With the EKS cluster, developers could select which AWS Wavelength Zones they wanted their node groups to live in. From there, they could move quickly to auto-instrumentation.

Additionally, the integration with Pixie has made network flow monitoring with the Pixie query language (PxL scripts) simpler. The flexibility of PxL scripts makes it easier for Verizon developers to create, customize, and adopt new views.

Optimizing performance monitoring 

By using the Pixie integration with New Relic on Verizon 5G Edge, developers can leverage a single dashboard across edge and non-edge workloads, leading to a more holistic visualization of performance and availability. Additionally, the Verizon team has been working to make the Pixie integration deployment even easier and more automated. Developers can automate the agent install, alert setup, and dashboard configuration—all with a single line of code. 

Looking forward, New Relic performance monitoring capabilities can be integrated deeply with the Verizon 5G Edge Discovery Service (EDS), an API that determines the optimal edge workload for a given mobile client. 

“This is how we start to think about network intelligence in the context of Verizon 5G Edge,” says Robert. “It's no longer just about application metrics, CPU, or memory use. It's about how network intelligence can deliver unprecedented workload orchestration capabilities.”

It's no longer just about application metrics, CPU, or memory use. It's about how network intelligence can deliver unprecedented workload orchestration capabilities. By teaming up with New Relic to deliver auto-instrumentation out of the box, we can make it easier than ever for developers to deploy to the network edge.

Robert Belson
Developer Relations Lead, Corporate Strategy at Verizon

Impact: Making it easier for developers to experiment on the edge

Today’s customers want immersive, hassle-free mobile experiences. With the New Relic observability platform and the integration with Pixie, Verizon can deliver on this demand more easily. Auto-instrumentation in the Pixie integration speeds the implementation of Verizon solutions, while New Relic alerts provide enhanced observability into Verizon software.

Essentially, the combined capabilities of Verizon and New Relic are a guide for building best practices in deploying APM to the edge. They create a reference architecture that guides future developers to the right metrics and the best ways of configuring dashboards and alerts. Together, Verizon and the Pixie integration with New Relic transform how people, businesses, and things connect with each other—and how developers innovate on the edge.