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2/13/2008
07:15 PM
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Rolling Review Wrap-Up: Application Performance Managers

As our largest Rolling Review to date draws to a close. we look back on nine tested APM suites.

There's a lot of marketing hype and money swirling around next-generation application performance management. While many IT organizations strive for deep visibility into critical application metrics, they're fearful of products that depend on labor-intensive approaches to deploy, manage, and monitor apps--and for good reason. To find out which APM suites provide insight without too much outlay of effort, we've spent much of the past year testing nine leading products in our Windward Consulting Real-World partner labs.

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Results Summary

>> BROAD APPLICATION SUPPORT
was our first assessment criterion. Three products earned perfect scores.

>> PROBLEM DETECTION/REPORTING
is tied to agent deployment. No one hit a home run here.

>> DISTRIBUTED APP MONITORING
was a strength for Nimsoft and Quest.

>> ROOT-CAUSE ANALYSIS
is a problem area for many entries, though BMC showed strong here.

>> STRONG NETWORK INTEGRATION
was another lackluster category.

We designed a thesis around holistic APM products that not only identify problems but take corrective action to resolve performance issues before they impact users and customers. Actions may include allocating additional bandwidth or server processing capacity, even rolling back configuration changes. Where corrective-action capabilities are lacking, organizations will struggle with fixing problems manually, though fast identification and notification are better than nothing. We also suggested that for truly holistic APM, products should locate and predict performance problems across all application components and support all facets of the app infrastructure. Service modeling was another key area; we sought to model critical application services and report on compliance with service-level agreements.

A tall order, but there are dozens of players in this space. We tested suites from BMC, Compuware, Indicative, NetIQ, NetQoS, Network General, Nimsoft, Quest Software, and Symantec. During the review, we had an additional 23 vendors that wanted to participate, while a handful, including CA, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard, declined our invitation or couldn't get software to us in time. We'll try to get more APM products in the lab this year, but we're confident the nine suites tested represent the full spectrum of features in terms of data collection, reporting, correlation, and integration. Note that right before press time, Symantec sold its APM business; see our analysis at theApplication Performance Optimization Immersion Center.

Rolling Reviews present a comprehensive look at a hot technology category, including market analysis, product reviews, and wrapping up with a synopsis of our findings. See more of this Holistic Application Performance Management series and our other reviews at Rolling Reviews.

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