Voices of Unified APM—Part 4

Achieving business objectives

For decades, IT and the Business existed in separate spheres. IT kept the lights on and the computer systems humming, while the Business brought in revenue. But the increasing role played by software in every business function requires a new, collaborative relationship between IT and Business departments. AppDynamics’ customers said one of the biggest benefits of a unified APM is the common language it provides, allowing IT leaders and the Business owners to take action together to realize desired business outcomes.

Conversion rates and CPUs

Daniel Zavalza Torres, IT director of operations at BestDay Travel, described the disconnect that used to exist between his department and his business colleagues a few years ago. “I’d say, your CPU usage increased 80% because you are using document threading in the wrong manner,” and they’re like, ‘What?’ At the same time, they’d complain to me that the conversion rate had dipped 3%, and that information would be meaningless to me because I couldn’t correlate those two things,” Zavalza said. With AppDynamics, the correlation is automatic, and, better yet, Zavalza doesn’t have to explain how threading can affect CPU usage and subsequently, the conversion rate. All he needs to do is search for the slow business transaction and show his business colleague its impact. Everyone now understands that if users experience a lag of just a second, “it will be at a cost for the company,” Zavalza said.

Monitoring change requests

Adam Landau, senior technology officer at Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE)  Insurance, said the White Plains-based, member-owned reciprocal insurance company originally deployed AppDynamics with two use cases in mind: improving the user experience and giving developers a way to measure the performance of their code before and after it was released. But as the team learned more about AppD’s ability to provide business analytics, that became a focus as well. “We are defining business transactions in AppDynamics so that a business user can now use the tool to understand the impact of a change they are requesting in the system,” Landau said. The neutral feedback provided by AppDynamics on whether a change has caused a performance problem fosters effective communication and leads to more productive working relationships.

Common ground with customers

Alfred Wan, senior director of service delivery and operations at SAP SuccessFactors, discovered an unanticipated benefit of AppDynamics soon after the solution was deployed. Part of Wan’s routine involved giving visiting customers a tour of the company’s Global Operations Center at its San Francisco headquarters. Wan was walking through the center with one of the company’s top ten biggest customers when the customer remarked they also used AppDynamics. Knowing they shared the same monitoring solution brought the companies closer together, Wan said. “The ability to have the same analytics that our customers are using, that’s huge,” he explained. “You can’t get that from any other tool. With AppDynamics, our customers see the same analytics that we see every day.”

Machine learning, AI, and unified APM

Adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies has made significant in-roads in recent years with roughly one in five companies now saying they have incorporated AI or machine learning in some areas of their businesses. Meanwhile, expectations are high across industries that new forms of machine intelligence will make work easier and companies more competitive. According to a survey by O’Reilly Media and MemSQL, 74% of respondents believed AI and machine learning would be a game changer. During the Global Tour, AppDynamics customers talked about the various ways AI and machine learning could be useful to their companies. They described scenarios such as end-user monitoring or introducing “self-healing” into IT systems. At the same time, some cautioned that a unified monitoring solution would be critical to ensure that the systems supporting AI were working properly.

Predicting the next action

Nick Mancuso, senior product manager at U.S. Bank, said his working relationship with artificial intelligence and machine learning is still “conceptual.” However, he could see AI being used to retain a customer. “A lot of AI would have to do with the customer experience,” he explained. “What are they experiencing on our apps? What are they experiencing on our website? How can we better predict what our customer is going to do next?”

Running IT with AI

Iain Mackenzie, vice president of performance engineering at Moody’s, predicted AI and machine learning will reduce complexity and make services more dependable. “We are looking at business service reliability,” he said. “We are looking to see how IT can help us run IT. You might call it AI ops or machine learning; I don’t care. If it can provide value, whether in the cloud, in a hybrid environment, or wherever we are, that’s what we will be looking for.”

Water safety with AI

Sandeep Chugh, senior application lead at Ecolab, said his company has been investing heavily in artificial intelligence. By developing the right algorithms and training them on the right data, Ecolab hopes to be able to predict potential problems that its customers may face with water quality—among other projects. But Chugh acknowledges there is always a risk an AI will not have access to the information it needs to function accurately. That’s where AppDynamics will come in, Chugh said. AppDynamics can monitor the AI and all its dependencies. “With AppDynamics, we will be able to verify that the AI we are using is working as expected,” Chugh explained.

Conclusion

Since AppDynamics was founded ten years ago, our Application Performance Monitoring solution has evolved along with changing architectures, advances in computing power, and the increasing availability of bandwidth. The customers who accompanied us on the Global Tour are as committed as we are to putting new technologies to work to meet business needs, and we are grateful to be able to support them as they shift applications to public and private clouds, modernize legacy applications with containers and microservices, deploy IoT and more. It is gratifying to watch our customers’ success grow as their businesses transform. No matter the industry, they are proving the value of unified APM and demonstrating what is possible via innovative technology.

WWT is Taking AppDynamics from the War Room to the Board Room

One question has loomed in the minds of CIOs and enterprise technology leaders for years, “How is  our investment in technology and software, impacting the success of the enterprise?” As advanced technology has helped mature this question over the years, organisations have sought to better understand the importance of technology and applications, and how these areas ultimately affect customer experience. Enter Application Performance Monitoring (APM.)

APM, as a technology, was designed to prevent application failure and to ensure uptime, performance, and an overarching understanding of the ‘application’ versus just the performance of the hardware that it operated upon. This was revolutionary as mean time to resolution (MTTR) had, and continues to, plague the performance and profitability of even the largest enterprises. By being able to quickly identify points of failure, companies could reduce the downtime of applications while simultaneously reducing the amount of frustration, cursing, and otherwise unsavory finger-pointing behavior by development, database, and infrastructure teams, worldwide. The collective database and software engineering community breathed a long overdue sigh of relief.

As app failure war rooms started to become more efficient and effective, more questions began to boil up; “What kind of insight can we gain from APM to help us stop making these mistakes altogether?” and “How can we get smarter about catching failures before they happen?” Enter AppDynamics.

AppDynamics, is taking a fresh approach to APM by leveraging machine learning from the ground up, understanding the business context of applications, which has created a smarter, faster way to begin to sense problems. By capturing Business Transactions at every point across the customer experience, AppDynamics is able to utilize machine learning to understand what ‘normal’ is at all points in time, e.g. during high demand periods for an application, such as the holiday season in retail. This has helped eliminate alert storms and structure I.T more intelligently, to increase application uptime and performance. War rooms across enterprise devops organizations have become, dare I say, civil again.

As APM continued to advance, World Wide Technology, a $10.4B technology solutions provider (and #1 Global Cisco Partner) began to take note of a revolutionary way to utilize APM to move application intelligence out of the war room and into the boardroom.

WWT’s software engineering and research division, WWT Asynchrony Labs, forged a Titan-level partnership (the premier tier) with AppDynamics. As a company that both designed data center-grade technology infrastructure and developed enterprise applications; WWT understood that the combination of software and hardware leads to incredibly valuable intelligence. WWT went to work.

Utilizing AppDynamics’ newest suite of analytics—Business IQ—and the internal management consultancy within WWT, quantitative application performance analytics and traditional business performance data were married. For the first time, APM was now supplying complex, relevant data that could help businesses understand exactly how changes in code, connectivity, and hardware affected the performance of the business. Upgraded a data center? How did it increase the total dollars spent? Changes to the codebase? How did it decrease the abandonment rate of the shopping cart? CIO’s could now trace revenue impact from changes in both infrastructure and code. A revolutionary step forward and a revolutionary partnership.

Changes in hardware, software, and communication technology affect every aspect of the business, but one thing remains the same; the customer experience impacts the bottom line. Delivering consistent, responsive applications that help our customers enjoy their interactions with our businesses are what it’s all about. By understanding how the complex underlying technologies that run our businesses touch each individual customer, makes us more than successful—it makes us all revolutionary.

Tanner Bechtel

Director and Practice Lead, AppDynamics

World Wide Technology

Voices of Unified APM—Part 3

From production to development environments

As AppDynamics has proven its success in production environments, more and more customers are rolling it out in their development environments. In addition to improving the quality of code that is released into production, AppDynamics supports the adoption of DevOps initiatives by providing everyone with access to the same information.

Ensuring release quality

Q2ebanking’s CTO had an idea after reviewing the insights into the problems that were diminishing the customer experience that AppDynamics gave to the operations team. “He wanted to use AppDynamics to see what was coming down the pipe,” said Jacob Ramsey, the AppDynamics administrator. “He wanted to know that the code that was being worked on by developers was actually better than the code that was already in production and that we weren’t introducing regressions.” Ramsey said he has since been working with different teams to roll out AppDynamics in the pre-production environment. “We are starting to see the benefit of having everyone on the same page,” he said.

Lining up for AppDynamics

For Dentegra, the impact of inserting AppDynamics earlier in the company’s software development life cycle is measurable. “We reduced the P1 issues on our Java applications by 64% by rolling out AppDynamics in pre-production,” said Sai Adivi, the director of IT enterprise applications.  The achievement helped to wipe away the last traces of resistance that developers had to adopting another tool. Instead, Adivi said, the developers are now lining up to ask him to integrate their apps with AppDynamics because it helps them write better code.

Containers and Microservices

In the last few years containers—and to a lesser extent microservices—have surged in popularity thanks to the benefits they provide to organizations seeking to modernize legacy applications and increase the agility of their IT organizations. But the same characteristics that make containers so flexible and easy to deploy also limit IT’s ability to monitor them. Companies who are serious about moving to a containerized architecture often turn to AppDynamics for the visibility they need.

“Root cause right out of the box”

BestDay Travel, a leading online travel agency headquartered in Cancun, Mexico, prides itself on maintaining its innovative edge by selecting the best technology tools available. Initially built on .NET in an on-premises environment, BestDay expanded to PaaS and recently rolled out a new container-based platform on Azure using AKS (Azure Container Service). “With AppDynamics we’re able to monitor all these environments,” said Daniel Zavalza Torres, IT director of operations. Zavalza said he tried other APM solutions, but found AppDynamics to be the best match for BestDay Travel’s needs. His teams had been struggling to establish the root cause of performance issues with the tools they were using and had gotten in the habit of blaming each other. “AppDynamics helps you to establish root cause right out of the box,” he said. “It provides a level of insight from the get-go.” After rolling out AppDynamics, Zavalza’s teams were able to stop shifting blame around and focus on problem-solving.

Instant visibility

Q2ebanking is another company that makes heavy use of containers. Jacob Ramsey, the AppDynamics administrator, said deploying AppDynamics to monitor containers was even easier than deploying it to monitor regular services. “AppDynamics is just baked into the container, and it doesn’t matter where the container is spun up,” he said. “The container connects to the AppDynamics controller and provides the monitoring data. I can click on it and see its CPU and memory and the like.” At the same time, Ramsey said, “I can also click over to the server that the container is running on and see how it is performing, which is awesome.”