Voices of Unified APM—Part 1

Application performance monitoring or APM means a lot more to companies today than just identifying and resolving application errors. IT leaders attending AppDynamics’ Global Tour in San Francisco, Minneapolis, New York, and Dallas described how APM has evolved into unified monitoring and become a kind of central nervous system for their companies, keeping track of changes in their environment from one millisecond to the next and monitoring not just applications, infrastructure, and end users, but key business metrics as well. In addition to sharing stories about how their use of AppDynamics has driven increased IT efficiency, more reliable code releases, successful cloud migrations, and closer collaboration with business partners, our customers also talked about how they expect machine learning and artificial intelligence will play growing roles in their businesses in the future.

In this four-part series, we share excerpts of the discussion as it unfolded around the country. Just as the stories told by our customers show how unified monitoring is helping them transform their businesses, so can unified APM help other organizations as they shift to the cloud, adopt new architectures and development models, and look to incorporate machine learning and AI into day-to-day operations.

Getting Started with Unified APM

Companies have traditionally deployed APM solutions in their production environments to gain a deeper understanding of application performance, and this continues to be true today. Many of AppDynamics’ customers said they first turned to a unified APM solution because other monitoring tools were failing them. Their environments were too complex and required too many monitoring tools. Correlating information about a performance issue took too long and often failed to reveal the root cause of the problem.

“I need it right now!”

Dentegra, the leading dental insurer in the United States, first deployed AppDynamics in response to a problem in production they could not diagnose. “It was like, ‘I need it right now!’” said Sai Adivi, director of IT enterprise applications and DevOps, Delta Dental of California. “I just plugged in AppDynamics in production and within 15 minutes we were able to find the root cause.”

The problem stemmed from a recent virtualization project, Adivi recalled. “In relation to that, while we were at it, we found two more memory leaks.” They had been there, Adivi guessed, since the product was built five years earlier. After that, Adivi didn’t need to sell AppDynamics to his CIO. “From there, we began investing heavily in AppDynamics,” he said.

Ease of deployment

Ecolab, a global supplier of water, hygiene, and energy solutions headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, wanted a more effective monitoring solution that didn’t require additional headcount. AppDynamics’ combination of unified monitoring and hassle-free deployment sealed the deal.

“The ease of deployment of AppD was the biggest factor,” said Sandeep Chugh, senior application lead, Ecolab. “We were not looking for something for which we would have to hire a specific person. We were also really excited that you could get synthetic data, monitoring data, and Business iQ data in one place.” Right out of the gate, Chugh was pleased to see the barriers preventing communication come tumbling down. Without a clear-cut way to identify the source of an issue, engineers had been shifting blame. With AppDynamics, people began taking responsibility, he said.

A troubleshooting challenge

Q2ebanking, which provides digital banking services and is based in Austin, Texas, needed to ensure the quality of their customers’ online experience remained high. But a lack of visibility into distributed applications was foiling the efforts of the operations team. Customers were reporting problems that IT could not recreate. “As every IT professional knows, the most fun problems to troubleshoot are the intermittent ones,” said Jacob Ramsey, Q2ebanking’s AppDynamics administrator.

Deploying AppDynamics finally brought relief. “With AppDynamics I could pull up a flow map and see right away that the VPN between the Dallas data center and the customer had gone down,” Ramsey said. At that point, fixing the problem was as easy as calling the networking guy and sharing the flow map with him. “Whereas before you were talking about a war-room scenario,” Ramsey said. “You’d have a networking guy, a storage guy, a database guy, and they’d all be saying, ‘No, the problem is not here. It is probably over there.’”

“It’s not hype”

Iain MacKenzie, vice president of performance engineering at Moody’s, the venerable provider of credit ratings and risk analysis, said the benefit of being able to drill down from a list of Business Transactions or a visual flow map using AppDynamics, is extremely powerful. “When we hear of slowness or instability, we go straight to AppDynamics,” MacKenzie said. “Not only are we able to identify a slow transaction whether it is in the backend or front end, but we can get to the line of code within seconds. I’m not a salesperson, I’m just a user, and it’s not hype. It’s quite frankly the reality in many cases.”