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Why 15 minutes was never enough


Danica Shei

by Danica Shei

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Danica Shei

by Danica Shei


04-06-2021

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Being on-call is never fun, especially when a high-priority customer reports an issue. When you’re on call and get paged, your immediate action is likely to jump into your solution of choice (preferably Lightstep), query whatever real-time data you have on hand to investigate the issue, and narrow down the possible problems.

Lightstep’s Explorer allows you to search across 100% of spans in real-time and quickly troubleshoot issues across a number of attributes such as customer id, geography, service name, client app version, and more. Explorer enables live search and analysis across a given retention window.

We’ve made on-call more pleasant (really — it’s possible)

A retention window is how far back Lightstep can look to find spans for a particular query, and for the majority of customers, the average retention window is 15 minutes. That window might be good enough if you are paged during the workday and are already at your desk, but for the groggy engineer that is woken up in the middle of the night, 15 minutes can be a tight window to write a coherent query.

Even if you are able to make some useful queries, generally developers will try to mitigate the issue before doing a deeper analysis of the code and 15 minutes may have already passed by the time the issue is mitigated. By this time you’ve already lost access to the incident data needed to be able to do a more thorough analysis.

Always improving

Today, we’re excited to share that Lightstep’s Explorer comes with a default 1-hour retention. This means that all spans will be available for querying and aggregate analysis for the past hour. At Lightstep, we never thought 15 minutes was enough time to troubleshoot problems, so we pushed the limits of what we could offer and now provide 1-hour of retention to all customers. This is unparalleled in the industry and cannot be matched by our competition. This is just the start of what Lightstep can offer!

Explorer 2

How is this possible?

Lightstep is able to offer longer retention due to our unique data ingest architecture, which shifts the compute and storage burden from Microsatellites, located within our customers’ environments, to our SaaS platform. The new Lightstep architecture is available to all customers starting today, and for our customers on our Pro or Community plans, these changes are already in place! Are you a current Lightstep customer and interested to hear more? Reach out to your account manager to learn more!

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