News, Culture

Voices of Unified APM—Part 2

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In part two of the four-part series “Voices of Unified APM,” customers who joined us on the recent Global Tour share how they expanded their initial deployment and realized success during complex cloud migrations.

Expanding Initial Deployments

The value of unified APM is fully realized when the solution is deployed throughout an organization’s entire environment. However, many of our customers told us that they were able to achieve significant benefits by starting small.  This approach not only provided clear justification for wider use, it also helped convince engineers throughout the organization of the benefits of unified monitoring leading to faster universal adoption.

The end of tool jumping

Before the deployment of AppDynamics at US Bank, troubleshooting performance issues was similar to playing a mystery game. “We had a lot of problems that required us to jump from tool to tool,” recalled Nick Mancuso, senior product manager at the Minneapolis-based bank. “You had to really try to interpret what each tool was trying to tell you individually.” The process extended resolution times and increased overall cost. As one of the top ten largest banks in the United States, US Bank decided to shorten the mean time to resolution by implementing AppDynamics.

“With AppDynamics, we’re able to drill down and really focus on what is going on in one spot,” Mancuso said. After demonstrating AppDynamics value on a small set of applications, Mancuso is now expanding monitoring to over 100 applications. The biggest challenge, Mancuso said, has been psychological. The operations teams that are affected have wanted proof that AppDynamics is better than the tools they are used to using. “It’s really a story of a culture shift,” Mancuso explained.

Highlighting the impact of individual teams

SunTrust Bank, which defines its mission as building financial confidence in the communities it serves, took a conservative approach to deploying AppDynamics, similar to U.S. Bank’s. The Atlanta, GA-based financial institution started by instrumenting 20 of its most important business applications. “I’ve used a couple of different APM tools over my career and one of the ah-ha moments for me was seeing how simple it was to bring in AppDynamics, how it just worked,” said Jamie Williams, APM consultant, SunTrust Bank.

Williams was able to drive adoption among various IT teams by revealing how the work they did on a single application could have a ripple effect throughout the bank. “In AppDynamics, you see how one application is integrated to another,” Williams said. “If you have two or three applications on a dashboard, and you see a server go down or a JVM (Java Virtual Machine) go down, you can see how that affects everything else. It helps everyone get on the same page. Otherwise, you are often starting out with a communication barrier. For example, you could be tracking the application in your database monitoring tool, while I’m looking at it in a network monitoring tool.” Engineers who had originally told Williams they already had four monitoring tools and didn’t need another were won over. SunTrust is now monitoring 30 applications with more to come, Williams said.

Moving to the cloud

The number of companies planning to move applications to the cloud has never been higher. According to a recent survey, public cloud adoption exceeded 90%, and private cloud adoption reached 75% in early 2018. AppD customers said cloud migration projects create another opportunity to demonstrate the value of unified monitoring by revealing how applications perform before and after the shift to the cloud.

A complex migration

Agero, a leading provider of connected car solutions based in Medford, Massachusetts, adopted AppDynamics with a specific goal in mind. The company was having lots of issues in production with an older application used by its operation centers. The application was mission-critical in the sense that when it went down, employees in the operations centers couldn’t do their jobs. Performance issues would lead to extremely intense war-room calls, with 15 to 20 people each spending hours to identify the root cause and resolve the problem. “We needed to clean that up as fast as we could,” said Karen Hutchinson, Agero’s director of DevOps.

Agero was also determined to move its older .NET stack to the cloud and to adopt microservices. The first step in that process was to establish a performance baseline. “We implemented AppDynamics across our on-premises system, and then we moved the system to the cloud,” Hutchinson said. It was a complex migration that involved migrating some of our Oracle databases on the backend with a cloud-optimized MongoDB solution, as well as moving integrations to Salesforce, Azure, and other third parties to the new cloud-based environment. “AppDynamics definitely provided one sheet of paper—a single source of truth—that everyone could look at,” Hutchinson said. The migration project stayed on track, and Agero was able to continue to serve its customers, even as Hutchinson’s teams upgraded large swathes of code.