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 2

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.

 

Voices of Unified APM—Part 1

Application performance monitoring or APM means a lot more to companies today than just identifying and resolving application errors. IT leaders attending AppDynamics’ Global Tour in San Francisco, Minneapolis, New York, and Dallas described how APM has evolved into unified monitoring and become a kind of central nervous system for their companies, keeping track of changes in their environment from one millisecond to the next and monitoring not just applications, infrastructure, and end users, but key business metrics as well. In addition to sharing stories about how their use of AppDynamics has driven increased IT efficiency, more reliable code releases, successful cloud migrations, and closer collaboration with business partners, our customers also talked about how they expect machine learning and artificial intelligence will play growing roles in their businesses in the future.

In this four-part series, we share excerpts of the discussion as it unfolded around the country. Just as the stories told by our customers show how unified monitoring is helping them transform their businesses, so can unified APM help other organizations as they shift to the cloud, adopt new architectures and development models, and look to incorporate machine learning and AI into day-to-day operations.

Getting Started with Unified APM

Companies have traditionally deployed APM solutions in their production environments to gain a deeper understanding of application performance, and this continues to be true today. Many of AppDynamics’ customers said they first turned to a unified APM solution because other monitoring tools were failing them. Their environments were too complex and required too many monitoring tools. Correlating information about a performance issue took too long and often failed to reveal the root cause of the problem.

“I need it right now!”

Dentegra, the leading dental insurer in the United States, first deployed AppDynamics in response to a problem in production they could not diagnose. “It was like, ‘I need it right now!’” said Sai Adivi, director of IT enterprise applications and DevOps, Delta Dental of California. “I just plugged in AppDynamics in production and within 15 minutes we were able to find the root cause.”

The problem stemmed from a recent virtualization project, Adivi recalled. “In relation to that, while we were at it, we found two more memory leaks.” They had been there, Adivi guessed, since the product was built five years earlier. After that, Adivi didn’t need to sell AppDynamics to his CIO. “From there, we began investing heavily in AppDynamics,” he said.

Ease of deployment

Ecolab, a global supplier of water, hygiene, and energy solutions headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, wanted a more effective monitoring solution that didn’t require additional headcount. AppDynamics’ combination of unified monitoring and hassle-free deployment sealed the deal.

“The ease of deployment of AppD was the biggest factor,” said Sandeep Chugh, senior application lead, Ecolab. “We were not looking for something for which we would have to hire a specific person. We were also really excited that you could get synthetic data, monitoring data, and Business iQ data in one place.” Right out of the gate, Chugh was pleased to see the barriers preventing communication come tumbling down. Without a clear-cut way to identify the source of an issue, engineers had been shifting blame. With AppDynamics, people began taking responsibility, he said.

A troubleshooting challenge

Q2ebanking, which provides digital banking services and is based in Austin, Texas, needed to ensure the quality of their customers’ online experience remained high. But a lack of visibility into distributed applications was foiling the efforts of the operations team. Customers were reporting problems that IT could not recreate. “As every IT professional knows, the most fun problems to troubleshoot are the intermittent ones,” said Jacob Ramsey, Q2ebanking’s AppDynamics administrator.

Deploying AppDynamics finally brought relief. “With AppDynamics I could pull up a flow map and see right away that the VPN between the Dallas data center and the customer had gone down,” Ramsey said. At that point, fixing the problem was as easy as calling the networking guy and sharing the flow map with him. “Whereas before you were talking about a war-room scenario,” Ramsey said. “You’d have a networking guy, a storage guy, a database guy, and they’d all be saying, ‘No, the problem is not here. It is probably over there.’”

“It’s not hype”

Iain MacKenzie, vice president of performance engineering at Moody’s, the venerable provider of credit ratings and risk analysis, said the benefit of being able to drill down from a list of Business Transactions or a visual flow map using AppDynamics, is extremely powerful. “When we hear of slowness or instability, we go straight to AppDynamics,” MacKenzie said. “Not only are we able to identify a slow transaction whether it is in the backend or front end, but we can get to the line of code within seconds. I’m not a salesperson, I’m just a user, and it’s not hype. It’s quite frankly the reality in many cases.”

“Understand the Secret Sauce” and Finer Points About Business Transactions and Evolving APM

On this planet, water is essential. Air is essential. And I could argue that for APM, Thomas Tammann’s “10 Tips for Every New AppDynamics Customer” is essential. While his “Top 10” doesn’t carry the same life-dependent intensity as sun to earth, it is core to success for modern APM.

I’ll set the scene: London, AppD Summit Europe, May 2017. The stage is dark. The audience is in high-spirits. Thomas bounds on stage. His tall, lanky form leaning into the experience. Genuine confidence into the insights he’s about to share are based on years of customer partnership as an AppDynamics Solutions Architect. His knowledge is lifted from the context of our customers, their customers, and the backdrop of evolving digital transformation trends. We’re set for a worthy session that any application team can learn from.

Thomas shows us that simple ideas are tough ideas. Some of the key points he covers may seem obvious, but they’re not initially observed by a majority of customers. Only after challenges do customers see how essential it is to invest in each of the tips described.

Here Are My “Top 4”, Paraphrased from Thomas’s “10 Tips”:

 #1. Set an APM strategy.

If APM is just another tool, IT is doomed to service the business. Our most successful customers have adopted a business-first IT mindset. They view APM as a strategy, not a tool.  This is because application performance drives business performance. A tool adjusts performance, but a strategy ensures you’re using performance to gain advantage. Thomas advocates that it’s critical to invest time in setting a strategy and most importantly, to align your team to it. Teams are made up of people, and when people have different understandings about the direction the team is headed, you’re all bound to get lost. To illustrate this point, Thomas had the audience stand up, close their eyes, and point to “true north”. When he asked us to open our eyes, we witnessed the reality that we were all pointing in different directions — our individual ideas of “true north” were entirely scattered. So, strategy is powerful and communicating that strategy has a unifying effect, increasing chances for success.

#2. Go with the flow.

We give visibility to your Business Transactions — every detail, every dependency, complex or not. Don’t sacrifice knowledge for a pretty picture. All too often customers superficially edit the reality of their application flow-map because they believe it’s easier to understand. “Not true,” suggests Thomas. By “understanding the secret sauce” (that is, how and why AppDynamics does what it does), you can embrace the complexity of the true-flow and benefit in the long term.

#3. Automate.

Thomas uses unconventional wisdom (AKA, “When lazy is good”) to show us the beauty within the AppDynamics platform. Simply put, as soon you do something twice, you should automate it.  AppD helps you do this. For example, dynamic performance baselines are easily created to automate alerts that show you when performance deviates from norm. This helps prevent IT alert storms. AppD also enables customization of automation. For example, you can automate agent deployment, monitoring for on-prem controllers, configuration deployment (the new scope configuration brings you additional power), and integration with event systems.

#4. Configure signals from the noise.

Business Transactions are the critical first step. But know that data ingestion is just the beginning and that when you gather indiscriminately, you end up not knowing and not using what you have. Data isn’t knowledge — it’s how you process it that makes it useful. As Thomas suggests, often times, “getting everything and having nothing” is the result of a data deluge. Collecting data which serves as foundation for information and then knowledge is the goal.

Consider learning more about best practices for AppDynamics customers by reading our eBook, scheduled for delivery during the summer of 2017.

General Note: The title, “Ten Tips for Every New AppDynamics Customer” comes from Thomas’s experience working with customers that had around two years use of the tool. The “10 Tips” are not necessary for new customers, but also immature customers (in using the platform of course; they are ripe with wisdom in every other sense). That’s why Thomas originally called his talk the “10 Commandments”, as every customer, new or old, has to consider them. I would simply think of them as best practices.

 

Making Dev and Ops First Class Citizens At Standard Bank

Now that AppSphere 2016 is over, I have been reflecting on the track sessions that I managed and
the ones that I watched at the event. While all of them were very good, there are a couple which really stand out for me. One of these was ‘Standard Bank’s: Agile, DevOps & the Role of first-classAppDynamics’ case study. It was delivered by Andrew Kretschmer, Executive Head, Digital Channel Development and Lenro Meyer, Application Development Manager. What really stood out for me was their story (great slide quality also), honesty, and the benefits derived from AppDynamics’ software. So let me say, thank you guys! Here is a quick breakdown of their session in case you missed the presentation.

A Bit of Background into Standard Bank

Standard Bank is one of South Africa’s largest financial services groups, with 14.9 million retail banking customers, 1,221 branches and 8,000 ATMs. Established 154 years ago, it’s no surprise that today’s IT environment is a mix of new and legacy systems. Andrew explained that their strategy is driven through digitalisation of business processes and a mobile, self-service-first mentality. Ultimately, their enterprise vision is to be the first leading financial services organization in, for, and across Africa, delivering exceptional client experiences and superior value. From the stats highlighted in the slides this vision is certainly being realized with the  number of transactions rising significantly in regards to online banking and their SBG mobile banking app (in fact transactions on these platforms are up 387% according to the last company report!).

What Digital Challenges Did They Face?

In short, a number of digital challenges, but in summary:

  • IT spend was ~30% of operating costs, when best in class is 15%. This spend made it difficult to allocate budget towards digital innovation. Standard Bank’s unit cost per a feature on an application or service was 3X higher than that of their peers.
  • Digital acceleration changing customer expectations. Mobile and web were changing the way customers wanted to bank, but unfortunately it took 300+ days to deliver features into production with many outages. This resulted in low customer satisfaction.
  • Developers treated as second-class citizens. This was a pertinent point for me. In February 2015, Lenro explained that their mobile app suffered a severe outage and while his development team were pulled into a crisis room to find the root cause, they were treated as second-class citizens. It actually took them two hours to convince stakeholders that they needed access to the production environment to find the root cause. This coupled with a lack of adequate monitoring capability, led to the outage lasting a day and as Lenro explained to their CIO, “If we continue to treat developers as second-class citizens then this will happen again.”

Was Agile Software Development the Silver Bullet?

In order to solve these digital challenges, the first strategic initiative was to move towards Agile software development practices. But as Andrew explained, while they did try to adopt processes such as having daily standups, etc. this initiative ultimately failed. The reason was simple: You can’t just implement a new process or operating model without changing the culture.

Therefore the solution was to transform to a DevOps operating model, breaking down silos between teams and ramping the number of developers from 12 to 250 over the course of 3 ½ years.

AppDynamics Chosen as a Strategic APM Solution, Key to Driving DevOps Adoption

On the back of the mobile app outage and as part of their DevOps adoption, Lenro began to evaluate their monitoring strategy back in 2015. Initially this was hampered, because as a developer (a second-class citizen) he only was given limited access to existing monitoring tools but by doing research online he identified that a modern, enterprise APM solution was required.

His seven key requirements can be seen below:

After trialing a couple of solutions Lenro and the team at Standard Bank concluded that AppDynamics APM was the only solution on the market to address their key requirements. AppDynamics offered an enterprise, intelligent APM solution showing end-to-end visibility of performance in real-time, automatically and easily.

Three Major AppDynamics APM Benefits

Standard Bank have only been an AppDynamics customer for a year but Lenro outlined three major benefits from their adoption:

  1. Remove quality impediments in software rapidly. Lenro explained that AppDynamics has been used on Standard Bank’s internet banking platform in Nigeria to remove quality impediments. The situation was that logins were taking 30 seconds and because the internet banking platform follows a layered or tiered architecture approach, it made it extremely difficult to identify the root cause. Within minutes of deploying AppDynamics it gave developers immediate visibility into the layer causing the issue (in this case the core banking platform) and the exact line of code that was the root cause. This means that logins now take less than three seconds. Lenro explained that this rapid visibility means that developers can now focus on building new features rather than hunting and scouring logs to find the culprit of performance problems.
  1. Prevent outages and reduce the time to fix production issues. In this use case, Lenro explained that they had made changes to the core banking implementation. As soon as the different channels that rely on core banking were started up, AppDynamics started triggering alerts in regards to slow transactions. Using AppDynamics, Lenro and the team were able to immediately identify that it was one node in a four node cluster that was experiencing a 25% call failure. The impact was that potentially 25% of customers using this channel could not check their account balance. But because AppDynamics gave real-time visibility into the cluster, it gave the support team the awareness to remove the node and repair it at a quieter time. This meant that banking services did not experience any issues and helped the support team to maintain their Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) metrics. Additionally, Lenro talked about an Internet Banking outage in April 2016 when it took only five minutes to identify and the resolve the issue. Before AppDynamics this sort of outage would have resulted in teams being pulled into a war room which would have lasted for two to three hours a minimum before finding the root cause.
  1. Enable feature teams to do DevOps. One of the main drivers for DevOps adoption was to ensure that teams spent less time on support and more time on feature development and optimization. This is now starting to be achieved with Dev, Test, and Ops professionals all using AppDynamics to give them visibility into how code is performing and to identify areas that need improvement before the business and the customer is impacted. As AppDynamics is used across the software development lifecycle it means that better quality code now goes into production. Today Dev, Test, and Ops are all first-class citizens.

Standard Bank’s Tips for AppDynamics Adoption

Lenro finished the presentation with a number of key tips for successful enterprise adoption:

  • Automate as much as you can. At Standard Bank they use Chef to automate the deployment of AppDynamics agents and controllers. This means it’s quick and easy to deploy AppDynamics into new channels or parts of the business.
  • Put AppDynamics in the hands of the right people. Don’t centralize the deployment of agents but let dev and ops teams deploy them themselves. This speeds up adoption as dev and ops teams know their application best.
  • Prepare for the storm of adoption. As soon as teams see the value that AppDynamics can provide – they will want it! So make sure that you manage demand and can structure your rollout based on business importance.

In Conclusion

Standard Bank are continuing to rollout AppDynamics and to ensure adoption in the right way but one thing is certain: AppDynamics has helped Dev, Test and Operations teams to become first-class citizens within the enterprise.

Again, thank you Andrew and Lenro. This was a really good session, highlighting that enterprise adoption of AppDynamics has major benefits for every element of the software delivery lifecycle. I hope you have found this summary useful but please feel free to comment on your experiences below or to try AppDynamics in your enterprise.

Watch the AppSphere 2016 presentation

Okta is Driving Fast, but with Eyes Wide Open

The new “speed” conversation

When you’ve been writing marketing about tech companies since the dawn of the millennium, as I have, you hear the topic of speed come up a lot. And rightfully so. It is, of course, a vital metric and, in a marketing sense, a crucial differentiator when selling your product to the masses.

5X faster than the competition.

Fastest throughput.

Etc.

It’s been interesting to watch those performance metrics explode. But a funny thing has happened to the speed discussion. More and more, it’s not really in terms of the measurable, like speeds and feeds. Now, it’s more conceptual. It’s about how fast you’re innovating or responding to changes in the industry landscape and with the demands of customers. This is the direct result of technology no longer servicing the business, but driving the business.

Yeah, your stuff is really fast. But everyone’s stuff is really fast, so it’s not as much of a focus of differentiation anymore. How many of us even seriously consider the performance specs of a laptop before buying it…with one click…on Amazon Prime…hoping you ordered it fast enough so it comes tomorrow and not — gasp — the day after tomorrow.

“Oh! I can get it same day? Meh. How many hours is that going to take?”

It’s not about being fast, because fast is a given. It’s being fast all the time, and being faster to innovate, and being fast enough to stay just ahead of the competition. Because, let’s face it, pretty much no one gets out way ahead and stays there.

Yeah, tech marketing is way different these days. And so much more exciting.

On this trip together

One company that’s very exciting these days is Okta, an identity management company and an AppDynamics customer. They use AppDynamics application performance management to help them follow through on what Hector Aguilar, Okta’s CTO and SVP of Engineering, describes as their “always on” culture. “Always On” even appears in the tab on your web browser when you go to okta.com.

We’ve recently posted a video that was featured at AppSphere 2016, as well as written a success story about our great relationship with Okta.

In the video, Mr. Aguilar payed us one of the most flattering and clever compliments we could have hoped for:

“If we don’t have AppDynamics, where we’re using it, it would be really like driving a car at 100 miles per hour with your eyes closed.”

And there it is again — speed. But not of their product (which is, of course, always on), but the speed in which Okta is moving within the industry. The speed at which they have to operate to meet the expectations of their customers — and their customers’ customers, employees and partners, who are all touch points of Okta’s solutions.

We’re incredibly proud to be helping Okta and other industry leaders concentrate on this incredibly fast-moving, twisty road that we’re all on together.

Please be sure to read the story.

Using DevOps to Deliver the Best User Experience

In a session at AppSphere 2016, Blackbaud presented “How Blackbaud Transformed From On-Prem to SaaS Through DevOps and AppDynamics”, where Blackbaud shared the challenges and benefits of moving from an on-premise model to an SaaS-delivered model. They also discussed how DevOps practices, along with the support of AppDynamics, allowed them to establish trust between teams and achieve their goal of servicing customers in a subscription model. If you’re not familiar with Blackbaud, they are the engine that powers the online presence for a large number of nonprofit organizations, supplying them with the tools to help them manage and drive their fundraising objectives. They are the largest cloud software company powering social good.

In Blackbaud’s journey to change their business model to SaaS, they encountered certain obstacles. These included communication challenges between the dev and ops groups that threatened to slow their ability to deliver positive experiences to their customers. As the move to SaaS continued, dev and ops had to work together more closely to address the realities of delivering the company’s offering on a distributed platform with multiple users. By partnering with AppDynamics, these groups were able to visualize that environment and start closing the divide between dev and ops to create a DevOps culture focused on improving their application.

Using AppDynamics’ tools as a basis for application performance monitoring, Blackbaud began to chip away at issues that had arisen from a previously complex environment. They were also able to easily discover the bottlenecks that could become bigger issues if the system becomes compromised due to load or other factors. As the relationship between the dev and ops teams further matured, the developers could quickly spot and evaluate potential areas that might cause bottlenecks, addressing them in their next sprints to continuously release more performant code. This direct collaboration between teams allowed Blackbaud to take a holistic approach to their application, with end-to-end monitoring and the ability to identify changes both pre and post release, comparing not only business transaction performance, but also database call performance and volume.

SaaS environments have multiple variables, and each has the potential to adversely impact the customer’s experience. With a DevOps approach, Blackbaud is able to proactively manage the experience of users and react quickly to mitigate any issues that arise. As Blackbaud’s client base grows and the complexity of supporting thousands of users increases, their internal teams are able to tackle challenges head-on due to their investment in DevOps, and Blackbaud’s partnership with AppDynamics helps to deliver the end-to-end monitoring needed to sustain it.

Want to learn more about DevOps? Find out Why DevOps is an Essential Part of Digital Transformation

United Airlines and Real-time Business Monitoring

Flying out in front

One of the world’s largest airlines, United Airlines, has an impressive history of using one of humankind’s greatest innovations — the airplane — to serve people. On April 6, 1926, pilot Leon “Lee” Cuddeback flew a Laird Swallow biplane flew from Boise, Idaho, to the railroad mail hub at Pasco, Washington, returning the following day with 200 pounds of mail. This historic round trip journey was the first contract airmail flight, making United Airlines (then called Varney Air Lines) the first ever commercial airline in the U.S. to fly fixed routes and schedules. Another customer-centric first was established in 1930, when United hired nurse and pilot Ellen Church to assist passengers and help calm them of their fear of flying, making her the first female flight attendant on a passenger airplane.

Millions of flights and billions of passengers later (140 million in 2015 alone), United is more dedicated than ever to using innovation to keep the skies, terminals, and maintenance hangars friendly for their passengers and employees.

“One of the goals given to us by leadership was, let’s win back the trust of employees and our customers,” says Bill Hineline, United’s Director of Application Performance Management.

No small task, seeing how Mr. Hineline’s team is responsible for managing over 125 applications, from united.com and ticketing to weight balance systems and baggage tracking.

United has enjoyed what has become a truly special partnership with AppDynamics, including Mr. Hineline taking the stage at the AppSphere 2016 keynote and leading a session where he revealed the depth of the successful partnership, which now includes Business iQ, our real-time business monitoring solution.

“We now understand business impact,” says Mr. Hineline. “Who is using it? How are they using it? Where are their problems being experienced?”

We couldn’t be prouder of the relationship and how we’ve been able to assist United in their digital transformation, allowing them to continue on the path of constantly innovating to create happy travelers and team members — and drive better business outcomes.

Bill Hineline will be joining us again to talk about how AppDynamics and United are working together to better serve customers, employees, and the business during an upcoming webinar that you won’t want to miss. Register now.

Want to hear more about the United-AppDynamics partnership? Watch the inspiring story here.

 

From Code to Customers, how Barclays uses AppDynamics

In the age of digital transformation, customer experience is the ultimate battleground. Every sector is striving to cater to their customers in effective and convenient ways. Therefore, the need to understand these customer journeys has never been more vital than it is right now — your company needs to provide the digital services yours users will get the most value out of.

To kick off our AppSphere Series, recaps and key lessons from the top presentations at AppDynamics AppSphere 2015, Peter Gott of Barclays talks about how he’s able to gain customer journey insights to better accommodate their users of Barclaycard.

“The right team with the right tools can make anything happen.”

Their challenges included:

  • Application issues impacting customers
  • Contact center efficiencies
  • Dev and Ops collaboration productivity
  • Developer productivity
  • Silo-ed software tools – expensive and inefficient

Their goals included:

  • Enable new paths to revenue with technology
  • Reduce customer impact due to technology incidents to zero by 2018

For Peter and his team, legacy IT systems were a burden to their innovation. Instead, they’re investing on next-generation systems that are able to power their digital objectives at scale. Peter goes on to talk about the benefits they see from AppDynamics including helping enable their move to DevOps, visibility into extremely complex systems, increased availability and productivity, and create a self-healing application.

Every vertical, not just financial services, is undergoing a radical digital transformation. Hear from Peter and his experience at Barclaycard in the video below.

 

Here are the slides from his presentation as well.

AppSphere 15 – From Code to Customers: The Digital User Journey from AppDynamics

We hope to see you at AppSphere 2016!

Jostle Workplaces Work Better Thanks to AppDynamics Application Intelligence

This blog post is based on the Jostle case study

I recently had the chance to catch up with Teg Ryan, director of technical operations at Jostle — an award-winning Vancouver-based software design firm. Jostle’s primary objective is to build “a radically better intranet” for every customer, where workplaces are incredibly vibrant and productive.

The cloud-based Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business’ customers expect their intranets to deliver responsiveness on a par with on-premise software.  “Everything the company does has to be fast,” said Ryan. “All of our users expect to get their documents or have a discussion in our application without any kind of glitch or delay,” he added. “So, we use AppDynamics Application Intelligence to monitor every aspect of response time levels. If there’s slowdown, we can easily drill down and find exactly where in the stack is causing a problem. Our mean time to recovery has been cut in half given the visibility that we have now.”

Key Benefits

  • Provides the intelligence foundation for fast application performance

  • Instruments the complete software stack, replacing multiple tools

  • Provides visibility into software response time issues like never before

Why AppDynamics?

  • Minimal configuration requirements

  • Dashboard display provides window into entire environment

  • Provides comprehensive intelligence with negligible overhead

Jostle is heavily invested in Amazon Web Services as well as other cloud providers to serve their Java based web application. Today, the Jostle team is monitoring around 20 production servers and using AppDynamics Application Performance Monitoring to track both database response time and front-end web response times. According to Ryan, his team is constantly driving down both of those numbers because of how quickly they can see issues and fix them.

AppDynamics has helped Jostle go from highly limited visibility to a hugely well-instrumented environment. “Prior to implementing the AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform, visibility was a big issue,” said Ryan. “We were relying on a hodgepodge of different monitoring tools, and when you do that, there are black holes that you just can’t see into—black holes that cause big trouble if there’s an issue in one of them,” he added.  Now those black holes are gone.

Slow databases are a thing of the past, too. “Prior to deploying the AppDynamics Platform, we had a bug in our code that was causing a query to fire millions of times over and over again,” said Ryan. AppDynamics Database Monitoring uncovered the bug and the Jostle team fixed it in a matter of minutes.

Application development timelines have also improved since the company began using the AppDynamics solution. In fact, Ryan mentioned that, because Jostle’s developers have access to the AppDynamics dashboard, they resolve most issues much earlier in the process than they used to, long before they ever reach production.  This has helped reduce the workload on the operations team and promote their culture of DevOps.

Near-zero performance overhead is also a big plus. “I’ve always been impressed by the low impact the AppDynamics software has on ours,” said Ryan. “How it instruments everything without any serious configuration is mind-blowing. I haven’t quite figured out how you do it yet.”