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Bridging the Gap – AppDynamics from a leading Cisco-partner’s perspective

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Summary
Conscia and Conscia Netsafe attended the AppD Global Tour in Stockholm on May 23. As a matter of fact, we not only participated, we were one of only three named sponsors for the event.

Looking at the sponsors slide above, it is not difficult to conclude that the Conscia Netsafe logo is the odd one out. It is, after all, not very often that we are mentioned in the same sentence as our two neighbours in that slide, especially when the context is mostly about things seemingly going on beyond layer 7 of our beloved OSI model.

Why are we doing this?

So, what is a “traditional” Cisco partner doing at an event like this? In Conscia we are well aware that a shift in the market is underway. Business and IT managers have to be (or will be) more focused on outcomes rather than on the nitty-gritty details of a given technology. We have observed that trend in our own existing markets, and we have been alerted to this also, through Cisco (our major partner). This trend was also addressed by Jonah Kowall (VP Market Development and Insights, AppD) when he presented in Stockholm, citing Gartner that “90% of successful I&O leaders will focus on facilitating transactions, not building and running infrastructure”, so thus far, we seem to agree.

Of course, the acquisition of AppDynamics by Cisco is also something that gave us a nudge upwards in the proverbial hardware and software stack. . As a strong Cisco Gold partner, it wouldn’t really serve our interests to  ignore a major event in the market like this acquisition, after all it was for $3.7 billion dollars! We wanted to find out why AppDynamics is such an important acquisition for Cisco.

That’s not all, though,after investing time to find out more what AppDynamics is all about, we realized that we actually share some very key goals:

–  Avoiding tedious and stressful war-rooms in “unscheduled down-time” periods

–  Eliminating the almost-guaranteed shouting matches between various technical silos

–  In short, just bringing down troubleshooting and Mean Time To Repair (MTTR).

I think most people would agree that these are essential goals in today’s enterprise, and something we all – across the IT industry – should be working towards. These goals can all be targeted by focusing on visibility. Achieving end-to-end visibility is something we have been addressing in the network-side of the equation for – at least – the last few years.

Cisco’s Digital Network Architecture (DNA) was launched under the moniker “Powered by Intent, Informed by Context”. “Intent” refers to the desired state – or the desired outcome of the instruction you feed into the network, while “Context” is all about the visibility. The more detailed information about the actual state of endpoints and services we can feed into our systems, the better chance these systems have of applying whatever low-level operations are needed in order to end up in the desired state.

Admittedly, the complete automation of this feedback-loop is still something for the future, but while we wait for machine-learning, AI, and the other related buzz-words to mature, we can revel in the extra visibility we get, and use it to populate ITSM systems with relevant information (which can, actually, be done automatically today), share the information across the traditional silos, and that in itself helps us achieve the aforementioned goals.

The current concrete products of Cisco DNA are Software-Defined Access, SDA, coupled with Network Data Platform, NDP (visibility/analytics) in the campus network, and Application Centric Infrastructure, ACI together with Tetration (visibility/analytics) in the datacenter.

Conscia has been working closely with customers and with Cisco on early field-trials and other relevant programs in all of these areas, and we have amassed a huge bank of technical know-how and experience in the field of infrastructure visibility.

What did we learn in Stockholm?

On top of the expected announcements of new features, of which there were some very interesting ones such as an SAP agent, and Kubernetes integration, the most interesting items on the agenda were:

–  The customer case stories from Equinor, Volvo Group and Visma AB

–  The announcement of an upcoming integration between AppDynamics and Cisco ACI.

The customer stories gave us some really interesting insights into the problems the customers had faced, which kinds of decision processes they went through before engaging with AppDynamics, and finally, how AppDynamics has helped the customers address their issues. It is always refreshing and – I find – more impactful when hearing about these journeys directly and candidly from the actual people involved, rather than from scripted spokespeople.l. These speeches and the following panel discussions have definitely helped us to become better prepared and equipped to discuss the value of AppDynamics with our customers.

The ACI integration which is currently in private beta was not given any significant fanfare due to attendees being mostly focused on application support and development, which is understandable. But it would be great to see more traditional network attendees at future conferences! On the back of the announcement, we spoke to  AppD representatives , who kindly shared some additional information with us. We are not in a position to divulge further details about this integration, but from what we have seen, and from the reaction of our datacenter specialists when we showed them a teaser, we must say that we really look forward to the day this becomes generally available! What Cisco and AppDynamics customers will get will be a very nice tie-in of application and infrastructure, where the glue and fairy-dust consist of visibility and context. Well done, AppDynamics and Cisco!

With this piece of the puzzle in hand, Conscia is uniquely positioned to approach our traditional infrastructure customers with a new message of how their operations can be enhanced with context from the application side of things. It is, after all, easier to discuss new concepts and technologies with people who can relate it to something they already know.

So, what’s next?

By adding AppDynamics to our portfolio, we will not only continue or journey towards end-to-end visibility, we will also be able to:

– Add additional value for existing customers by helping them solve application performance related challenges.

– Build new relationships with tech professionals, outside of our traditional infrastructure focus.

– Help with new digital challenges created by software and apps.

A partnership is a two-way mechanism, and we firmly believe that we, by entering into business with AppDynamics bring benefits to the other end of the table as well. For AppDynamics, we bring:

–  A partner with a strong presence in relevant markets

– The opportunity to build awareness of Real-Time Application Intelligence with other stakeholders in the enterprise.

And, of course, for Cisco we continue to bring

– A strong, trusted partner who understands the value of both hardware and Application Intelligence

– Dedicated focus to ensure that our customers are clear on how Cisco can help them

So, whether you are currently working in the application world, and have a desire to expand your visibility to the infrastructure layer, or vice versa, Conscia can help you achieve your goals using technology from AppDynamics and Cisco. We are bridging the gap between the two worlds.

Mikkel Troest, System Engineer, Conscia CTO Office

 

 

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