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Why Application Performance Management Matters Now

As we rely more on virtualization and cloud, APM systems keep enterprise applications running at top speed for users. More system mapping, data analytics are among key needs.

Several young companies are bringing APM systems to address the problem, including AppDynamics, New Relic and Manage Engine. In addition, Microsoft, BMC, IBM, HP and Dell's Quest Software are already well-established players in the space. Whether newcomer or old hand, all parties agree that is necessary -- but difficult -- to get an end-to-end view of how an application is running, from browser window down to the legacy application code itself.

New Relic was founded by CEO Lew Cirne, who was also a founder of Wily Technologies, acquired by CA as the basis for its APM in 2006. Wily's Introscope provided insight into Java applications, and most APM vendors today still provide the best real-time insight into running Java applications. (CA also can monitor and report on .Net applications, Cramer said.)

Introscope and the APM systems that followed it started to collect massive amounts of data from server logs, then analyze and apply it to ongoing operations. A great deal is known about the running characteristics of Java, and its related languages capable of running in the Java Virtual Machine, such as JRuby. One challenge for each APM vendor is to ask how deep its system can go into Java application diagnostics and how broad is its reach into applications that may not be written in Java.

Dan Kuznetzky, principal of the Kuznetzky Group, in a column Monday described several other points that can be used as metrics for evaluating APM systems.

-- Determine whether an APM system can automatically learn about database engines and application frameworks as well as the application, servers, storage and networking. What about future applications?

-- A wild card in APM is whether the APM system can recognize what mobile devices are being brought to work and the applications that run with them.

-- Test the learning capability of the APM system. Can it collect data from your running applications and learn from it? Does it "just provide alerts and reporting," or can it "actually manage workload components?" he said.

The ability to see how a running application is performing is a more crucial task than ever, but it's gotten more complicated. Slowdowns inevitably occur. Not being able to see what's going on in the end user's browser may turn into a new Achilles heel of IT administration, especially when all components of the application are no longer on premises.

APM is starting to hinge on an ability to use large amounts of operations data in near real time; that is, as problems develop. It's still an imperfect process, with much work to be done, but application management now is much less of a passive process of reacting to what's gone wrong, and more one of active intervention.

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User Rank: Apprentice
1/10/2013 | 12:37:27 PM
re: Why Application Performance Management Matters Now
Charles I would argue that the modern application performance monitoring solutions needs to actually manage the application - in real-time with minimal human intervention other by way of policies placed in controllers and supervisors embedded directly within the application itself.


"The New APM goes beyond performance monitoring in providing an integral managed application service, built on advance application management technologies such as intelligent activity metering, adaptive execution control, quality of service (QoS), and real-time discrete event simulation, that when combined cohesively enables the self regulation and self adaptation of the application to be automatically driven by key internal behavioral signals it emits, observes and assesses with little or no human intervention."
User Rank: Apprentice
1/10/2013 | 3:29:32 PM
re: Why Application Performance Management Matters Now
Nice piece, Charlie. I don't think anyone thinks or thought that APM doesn't matter. It's a matter of getting an APM system in place that both supplies useful information and that is cost effective to implement and manage. Incumbent systems don't fit virtualized scale out environments, and the new breed of providers are good, but green. Hard to blame IT pros for a wait and see attitude, even when it means they don't have all the info they really need.

Synthetic transactions are great for spotting issues, but it's a reactive method and doesn't typically tell you anything about what's actually going wrong. Useful, but in a limited way.

(I work for informationweek)
User Rank: Apprentice
1/14/2013 | 3:02:58 AM
re: Why Application Performance Management Matters Now
Great article. Here is an interesting webinar with Dan Kusnetzky where he is presenting evaluation criteria and best practices for APM in virtualized environments: http://www.eginnovations.com/w...
User Rank: Apprentice
1/23/2013 | 5:10:27 PM
re: Why Application Performance Management Matters Now
while I agree with the problem definition above, I think a key coverage element is not described at all. Enterprise applications are not built only on java and .net application servers. They have web servers, proxies, LDAPs, Message brokers and of course native code based (C/C++ and others) application servers. APM tools have to address a mix of application topologies AND follow through the transaction as it accesses resources in and out of the enterprise data center. This, to date, still is addressed only by a single vendor - Correlsense.
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