AppDynamics and PagerDuty: Unicorns … only real.

Unicorns, those magical mythical creatures that many have searched for but never actually found. One of our customers recommended AppDynamics to their associates and compared us to “Unicorns … only real.” This analogy is really great since Enterprises have been searching for “software that just works” but up until recently haven’t been able to find it. So now that we’ve found them, lets talk about 2 awesome Unicorns, AppDynamics and PagerDuty.

Unicorns

Recently we released a couple of blogs about the AppDynamics and PagerDuty integration. If you haven’t had the chance yet you can check them out here and here. I had some time to sit back and really think about what these two companies and our  integration mean to the IT world and I want to share those thoughts with you.

I’m a person that has worked in many sizes of company from really small startups (less than 20 employees) to really large enterprises (more than 250,000 employees) and a few in between. IT support levels vary greatly within these different size organizations. In particular, the ability to detect problems and notify the right people quickly is an issue in the SMB world (at the companies I worked for anyway).

One of the reasons for this problem lies in the costs associated with traditional monitoring and alerting systems. Beyond the up front purchase price there is typically the ongoing configuration and maintenance costs which can drive TCO excruciatingly high in no time. When thinking about SMB, taking into account the high purchase price, high setup cost, and high maintenance costs it’s no wonder very few companies invest in the software they need to monitor and manage their environment properly.

Enterprise Software Sucks

Taking it a step further, it’s a shame that large enterprises have to pay these exorbitant costs and suffer through “Enterprise Class Software” that takes an army of highly paid consultants and/or employees to setup and maintain.

This is why AppDynamics and PagerDuty is a big deal to me. Enterprise quality software that is as easy to use, configure and maintain as consumer software while not sacrificing functionality. This was unheard of 5 years ago. Thankfully, things are changing rapidly for the better. AppDynamics and PageryDuty allow any company to quickly deploy, configure, manage, identify, isolate, alert, troubleshoot, automate, repair, etc… All of this done better than the Enterprise Class products of 5 years ago and at fraction of the TCO.

Specifically, here are a few of the things that are way better when you use AppDynamics and PagerDuty:

Monitoring

  • 90% less configuration and management work with better results.
  • Isolation of problems down to the node, page, transaction, or line of code level.
  • Automatic remediation of known problems.
  • Reduced dependency on “The Expert” who actually knows how to set up and use the monitoring tool.

Alerting

  • Ability to interface with modern devices (like sending push notifications to iOS and Android)
  • Easy to use graphical interface for configuration of advance rules.
  • On call scheduling so you don’t have to “pass the pager”. Yep, there are still pagers out there.
  • Automated escalation of alerts that have not been responded to yet.

When it comes right down to it we are in a time where software is being re-invented and every company from the biggest to the smallest need to re-evaluate their strategy and take advantage of the amazing tools at their disposal. Here’s your chance to catch a Unicorn, don’t miss out by looking the other direction.

Click here to start your free trial of AppDynamics and catch a Unicorn for yourself.

Intelligent Alerting for Complex Applications – PagerDuty & AppDynamics

Screen Shot 2013-04-16 at 2.39.00 PMToday AppDynamics announced integration with PagerDuty, a SaaS-based provider of IT alerting and incident management software that is changing the way IT teams are notified, and how they manage incidents in their mission-critical applications.  By combining AppDynamics’ granular visibility of applications with PagerDuty’s reliable alerting capabilities, customers can make sure the right people are proactively notified when business impact occurs, so IT teams can get their apps back up and running as quickly as possible.

You’ll need a PagerDuty and AppDynamics license to get started – if you don’t already have one, you can sign up for free trials of PagerDuty and AppDynamics online.  Once you complete this simple installation, you’ll start receiving incidents in PagerDuty created by AppDynamics out-of-the-box policies.

Once an incident is filed it will have the following list view:

incident

When the ‘Details’ link is clicked, you’ll see the details for this particular incident including the Incident Log:

incident_details

If you are interested in learning more about the event itself, simply click ‘View message’ and all of the AppDynamics event details are displayed showing which policy was breached, violation value, severity, etc. :

incident_message

Let’s walk through some examples of how our customers are using this integration today.

Say Goodbye to Irrelevant Notifications

Is your work email address included in some sort of group email alias at work and you get several, maybe even dozens, of notifications a day that aren’t particularly relevant to your responsibilities or are intended for other people on your team?  I know I do.  Imagine a world where your team only receives messages when the notifications have to do with their individual role and only get sent to people that are actually on call.  With AppDynamics & PagerDuty you can now build in alerting logic that routes specific alerts to specific teams and only sends messages to the people that are actually on-call.  App response time way above the normal value?  Send an alert to the app support engineer that is on call, not all of his colleagues.  Not having to sift through a bunch of irrelevant alerts means that when one does come through you can be sure it requires YOUR attention right away.

on_call_schedules

Automatic Escalations

If you are only sending a notification and assigning an incident to one person, what happens if that person is out of the office or doesn’t have access to the internet / phone to respond to the alert?  Well, the good thing about the power of PagerDuty is that you can build in automatic escalations.  So, if you have a trigger in AppDynamics to fire off a PagerDuty alert when a node is down, and the infrastructure manager isn’t available, you can automatically escalate and re-assign / alert a backup employee or admin.

escalation_policy

The Sky is Falling!  Oh Wait – We’re Just Conducting Maintenance…

Another potentially annoying situation for IT teams are all of the alerts that get fired off during a maintenance window.  PagerDuty has the concept of a maintenance window so your team doesn’t get a bunch of doomsday messages during maintenance.  You can even setup a maintenance window with one click if you prefer to go that route.

maintenance_window

Either way, no new incidents will be created during this time period… meaning your team will be spared having to open, read, and file the alerts and update / close out the newly-created incidents in the system.

We’re confident this integration of the leading application performance management solution with the leading IT incident management solution will save your team time and make them more productive.  Check out the AppDynamics and PagerDuty integration today!

Deploying APM in the Enterprise Part 5: Alerts – Storm of the Century … Every Week!

Welcome back to my series on Deploying APM in the Enterprise. In Part 4: Path of the Rockstar, we discussed how to deploy your new monitoring tool and get maximum value from your time and monetary commitment. This post will cover one of the most important aspects of monitoring: alerting. This is the topic that can make or break your entire implementation. Get it wrong and you’ve wasted a bunch of time and money on mediocre results. Get it right and your time and money investment will be multiplied by the value you derive every day.

App Man wrote a great blog post earlier this year about behavioral learning and analytics as they apply to alerts. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you go read it after you finish this post. Instead of repeating what was covered in that post, we will explore the issues that I saw out in real enterprise operations centers.