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Business Journeys: Monitoring Complex Business Workflows

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Summary
Read more about how AppDynamics’ Business Journeys solves complex business problems and provides a unified, end-to-end application view.

AppDynamics is known for viewing application performance data through the lens of business transactions that provide perfect context to application and business performance. With the launch of Business iQ, we provided a real-time solution for business owners to identify, analyze, and report key business metrics, along with APM metrics.

The primary goal of Business iQ is unified monitoring – to deliver a common platform for application teams, including business owners, developers, and Ops – to communicate and make faster, data-driven decisions that matter the most to businesses.

AppDynamics Business iQ can ingest data from multiple data sources, including events generated by AppDynamics agents like business transaction events, log events, end-user events, as well as events sent to Business iQ using REST APIs. As a result, users can perform complex analytics on data from these different sources and events.

As customer demands for flawless services rise, application teams need to evaluate the success of a business process holistically. The challenge, however, has been the lack of an efficient, unified view to both business users (who want a 10,000-ft. view) and IT (who want granular code-level information) for an entire business process that spans multiple applications, services, or events. There isn’t a tool available in the market that provides this integrated view for an end-to-end process due to the complex, multi-part business workflows that exist in almost every industry.

Consider this example of a loan application approval process that spans different event types and applications, with multiple milestones linked together to underline a user journey.

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In this workflow, “Application Submission” information could come from business transaction events, whereas “Document Verification” status could come from logs. “Credit Approval” and “Underwriting” are performed by third-party service providers and the status could be updated in logs as well. “Final Approval” status could then be updated in transaction events.

The example above is a simplistic, linear representation of a typical loan application process, and even then, there is tremendous complexity in monitoring these individual milestones and performing analytics on the aggregated business workflow. This complexity is seen across various industries and workflows where the business journey can last for hours, or sometimes days. This includes insurance claims, cell phone activation, payment transfers, and more.

AppDynamics aims to solve these complex business processes by providing a unified, end-to-end application view with Business Journeys.

Business Journeys

AppDynamics Business Journeys is another example of AppDynamics’ commitment to providing the most granular application performance data, translated in business terms, for business users and their IT colleagues.

AppDynamics Business iQ users can currently query and visualize data for all AppDynamics event types, and we’re extending similar analytical capabilities for Business Journeys. Business Journeys’ composite events can also be used to create eXperience Levels (another exciting feature released in 4.4) to monitor and report key business and end-user metrics.

Authoring a business journey is a straight-forward, one-time activity. Users only need to define the data for key milestones or steps in the business journey and a distinct primary key to uniquely identify and tie together these independent milestones. For example, the different milestones in a loan application business journey are defined above as “application submission,” “document verification,” “credit check,” etc. What’s more, data for each milestone can come from different applications and different AppDynamics event types (business transactions, logs, or end user events).

Apart from the default information collected by Business Journeys, such as total time taken, event time stamp, etc., users can also extract additional business information (such as customer details, loan amount, loan type, etc.) from the various data collectors.

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With Business Journeys, users can also define the business workflow thresholds for “Normal,” “Slow,” “Very Slow,” “Stalled,” and “Error.” Composite events are automatically compared against the set thresholds, and the events are classified accordingly for analytics and visual representation. These health values are calculated on the total time taken to complete the milestones in a business journey. For example, a business journey is classified as “Slow” when the time for completion is three standard deviations greater than the value for all journeys in last two hours. These thresholds can be customized as needed.

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After configuring key business workflows, the composite Business Journeys events are created during data ingestion, and hence, provide a real-time view of the application workflow. The feature allows application performance bottlenecks to be resolved based on key business metrics and reduces the mean time to business awareness (MTBA). For example, the marketing department can minimize customer churn by running timely promotions or offering discounts to customers impacted by a slowdown in the payments API.

Below are a few dashboards created for a loan application Business Journey, using the powerful AppDynamics query language (ADQL) and visualization options of Business iQ.

Today, Business Journeys can help modern enterprises from all industries solve critical business workflows. And we’re continuously improving the feature to address even more complex business journeys. Keep an eye on our future releases for exciting updates to Business Journeys.

Guruprasad Tahasildar, Staff Software Engineer at Appdynamics, also contributed to this blog post.