Datadog and Prometheus both offer application performance monitoring (APM) platforms. Datadog is better established, and is graded as a Leader in the latest Gartner APM Magic Quadrant (MQ). Prometheus is open source and doesn’t meet the criteria for MQ entry demanded by the analyst firm – but it clearly has a number of strengths.
So there are some similarities in terms of features and functionalities, as well as quite a few difference between Datadog and Prometheus. How do users go about determining which one is best for their specific environment?
Here’s a look at both Datadog and Prometheus, how they compare, and their ideal use cases.
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Datadog vs. Prometheus: Key Feature Comparison
Datadog is focused on cloud monitoring and security. It offers the ability to see inside any stack or application at any scale and anywhere. Infrastructure monitoring, APM, log management, device monitoring, cloud workload monitoring, server monitoring, and database monitoring fall within its feature set.
Datadog is particularly astute at dealing with the performance and visibility of multiple clouds operating on the network and in managing cloud services. The platform helps IT to drill down into performance data. It generates alerts about potential problems and helps IT to discover any underlying issues. It can assemble data from logs and other metrics to provide context that is helpful in minimizing incident response time.
Datadog’s user interface centralizes performance monitoring, alert management, and data analysis in one place. Recent additions to its platforms include network monitoring, security analysis, AIOps, business analytics, a mobile app, and an incident management interface.
Prometheus is free and is used for primarily for event and application monitoring. It records metrics in real time a database built using a HTTP. It also includes flexible queries and alerting. It allows slicing and dicing of collected time series data to generate ad-hoc graphs, tables, and alerts. It offers multiple ways of visualizing information. The software is part of the open-source Apache universe and supported by its own community.
Prometheus outdoes Datadog in terms of its ability to implement highly dimensional data models. Time series are identified by a metric name and a set of key-value pairs. And Prometheus has multiple modes for visualizing data: a built-in expression browser, Grafana integration, and a console template language.
Prometheus also stores time series in memory and on local disk in an efficient custom format. Scaling is achieved by functional sharding and federation. Alerts are defined based on Prometheus’s flexible PromQL and maintain dimensional information. An alert manager handles notifications and silencing.
Overall, both Datadog and Prometheus can perform general APM functions. Datadog is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based application. It has much broader applicability both in terms of APM capabilities as well as monitoring other areas such as security, networking, and infrastructure, as well as log management.
Prometheus’ strength lies mainly in event monitoring and metrics monitoring. But Prometheus offers something that Datadog does not – real-time monitoring. In terms of raw features, though, Datadog comes out ahead.
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Datadog vs. Prometheus: Comparing Implementation and Ease of Use
Datadog installation is straightforward via the deployment of agents, though some command line scripting is required. It is relatively easy to customize dashboards and interfaces to the way you want them. The main interface offers extensive functionality. It’s great for experienced users, but it might be tough for new users who may be overwhelmed by the number of options.
Prometheus is said to be easy to use. But that likely only applies to people who live and breathe in the open source world. For those familiar with Apache, installation is considered simple. Each server remains independent for reliability and relies only on local storage. Written in Go, all binaries are statically linked and easy to deploy. Client libraries also allow relatively easy instrumentation of services.
Overall, Datadog gets the nod on implementation and ease of use. Without skilled open-source administrators as hand, the Prometheus interface can be difficult to master as well as being a little basic. And some find it difficult to set up and scale.
Datadog vs. Prometheus: Support and Integration Comparison
Datadog can work with a wide array of data formats and sources, but it is not a platform that is set up deal with a large number of information sources. Data formats like.xml, .csv, and .json are not supported, for example. That said, it can integrate well with other security and IT management tools. Datadog supports community APIs and extensions to integrate it into existing IT infrastructure. It is available for all major operating systems.
Prometheus supports over ten languages. Community resources are available for learning the application, training of users, and troubleshooting issues. Blogs, chatrooms, Slack channels, and mailing lists are available as part of support. On the integration front, existing exporters allow bridging of third-party data into Prometheus. Examples include system statistics, as well as Docker, HAProxy, StatsD, and JMX metrics.
Overall, Datadog wins on its integration options and community. Prometheus performs well in this regard, too.
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Datadog vs. Prometheus: Security Comparison
In years past, you could provide application performance management tools and software without having to worry a great deal about security. Today’s market is far more challenging in this regard. Most vendors now have to take care of security as a vital aspect of application development or face serious repercussions. Similarly, in APM, vendors now have to ensure they are providing a safe environment for users.
Being a SaaS application, Datadog has had to boost its game on security. It has been steadily adding security features in recent years. Prometheus relies more on other open source tools for security.
Datadog vs. Prometheus: Comparing Pricing
Datadog prices out at around $15 per user, roughly (and it is $23 for the Enterprise version). Datadog has an open pricing policy with published prices, and generally low prices. Its pricing per-month options include per-host, per million events, and per GB of analyzed log files. But Gartner noted that some large deals entail large upfront spending. According to the analyst firm, this can lead to over- and under-provisioning.
Prometheus is free. But full functionality demands personnel well-versed in open source. That can come at a salary premium. If existing personnel or outside contractors already working for your firm are competent in Apache-based applications, though, Prometheus certainly wins on pricing.
Datadog vs. Prometheus: Summary
There is no doubt that Datadog and Prometheus are both excellent tools. They both can solve a great many challenges related to application performance monitoring and beyond. Datadog is certainly the one to choose based solely on APM functions. Prometheus enters that arena to some degree, but its strengths lie elsewhere. For those specifically in need of event monitoring and metric monitoring tools, Prometheus comes out ahead of Datadog.
Datadog takes an infrastructure monitoring approach geared toward analytics and application performance. It is focused on performance measurement for cloud services and is particularly adept at measuring the performance of databases and servers, as well as measuring performance in a multicloud world. Since Datadog is aimed at monitoring infrastructure at scale, it’s used primarily by mid-sized companies and large enterprises. It is also favored by DevOps and IT to address cloud and infrastructure performance.
Prometheus is an open source tool and is likely to be favored by those familiar with other Apache-based platforms. It is unlikely that such users would think of using Datadog for event monitoring or metric monitoring. If your APM needs are basic, you can probably do just fine with Prometheus too. And any users wanting real-time monitoring should move Prometheus onto the shortlist.
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