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12/2/2010
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APM Vs. The Cloud

IT must rethink its approach to managing the performance of cloud applications.

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Bringing APM To The Cloud

It's not just security that's keeping CIOs from moving critical business applications into the cloud. When any downtime can negatively affect the bottom line, IT organizations want to make sure they can deploy application performance management (APM) tools to monitor availability. But that's not yet easy, or sometimes even possible, when applications are housed off-site. If a cloud provider doesn't offer sufficient metrics or allow customers to deploy APM instrumentation on its infrastructure, how can you know when performance is suffering, and why?

You can't. So we were surprised when a recent InformationWeek Analytics APM survey revealed scant use of monitoring when it comes to software as a service or apps on public cloud services. Just 28% of respondents use APM tools to monitor most of the cloud applications that they use, while 70% monitor only a few or none at all.

The problem is, the application architecture transformation brought about by the adoption of cloud services requires an equally transformational approach to performance monitoring. One example: Some APM vendors are embracing the cloud as part of the solution via the concept of monitoring and management as a service, or MaaS. MaaS platforms from companies like AppDynamics, BlueStripe, and Coradiant can automate tasks typically involved in setting up APM software, including agent installation and component relationship mapping. The monitoring service can be used for both on-premises applications and those in a public cloud environment.

In other cases, when it comes to SaaS and infrastructure-as-a-service platforms, IT teams are using synthetic transaction tools that simulate real application traffic and data payloads; they help test the user experience and discover bottlenecks and other problems that affect speed, transaction completeness, and availability. Whether you adopt APM as a service or adapt your in-house techniques, metrics will need to change to suit evolving application and business service priorities with regard to transaction processing, Web page load times, and so on. For example, companies may need to tweak data collection and analysis steps to give managers a more coherent and up-to-date picture of application performance. Rather than being concerned about each component individually, the collection perspective must shift to the overall user experience--in most cases, the transaction view.

Chart: Do you use APM tools to monitor SaaS or Public Cloud Apps?

Going to the cloud won't save money if you lose business because of poor performance, so make the APM transition a priority, not an afterthought. Decide whether your current toolsets can extend visibility over both on-premises and cloud or virtualized applications, so that you can have confidence and certainty about performance.

David Stodder is chief analyst at Perceptive Information Strategies. Write to us at iwletters@techweb.com.

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