Users share their AppDynamics Lite for .NET Experiences

A week has passed since we officially launched our free version of AppDynamics Lite for .NET to the public, and so far its been garnering attention and positive reviews from the APM community. For example, someone from a major Canadian telecommunications company downloaded .NET Lite and informed us on how quickly they were able to gain value from using it.

We’re equally impressed and delighted that they’re heavily pushing our Lite product internally and on the path to becoming an AppDynamics Pro user. Even though we hear praises from customers often, it’s always satisfying to hear about our products delivering real, quantifiable results in under 24 hours.

We also received this blog review from another .NET Lite user just the other day. They deployed AppDynamics Lite to monitor their overall site performance called – an open e-commerce market that connects resellers with a community of buyers for products that are discounted when purchased in bulk. The users of Lite are also able to monitor the outbound web service calls to which is Russia’s version of Facebook to ensure outbound requests to the social site are responsive. Describes the Entire .NET Lite Experience

AppDynamics Lite looks nice and catchy. Right after installation we started to obtain information about our application and performance metrics immediately. The following screenshot nicely illustrates that there are some hidden errors occurring for three of the business transactions in the following list. We have actually seen these errors before, but it was quite hard to estimate their frequency and severity. Now it can be easily understood from this view here and on the Business Transactions view, though it is limited to only 20 transactions.

The first thing I did after the installation, I decreased the snapshot frequency from 100 to 50. It was more out of curiosity without much purpose. It’s nice to see the historical information about errors and requests presented on one screen. We then changed the default sorting “By timestamp” in order to see errors as they happened by recency.

In this case, the error in question didn’t involve a SQL query. The Bad Request details were quite simple and repeated what we could find in a set of stack trace logs. However, the main advantage for us is that AppDynamics can catch these errors and notify our team immediately by email. Once inside the tool, the information is well organized for faster root cause diagnosis.

In general I found it very useful that AppDynamics operates with business transaction logic. The semantic of transaction is easy to understand and one can have a detailed overview of a precise transaction. And of course the “red bar” matters. In case of many errors it is straightforward that “more red” means “look first”.

From two examples you can see that our .NET Lite users are able to install and run our product with ease while gaining insight into their application’s health and performance bottlenecks to improve upon for faster runtime. If you have a success story using AppDynamics Lite, please let us know!

Monitoring .NET applications just got way better

A frustrated user calls to inform you that your .NET application is running slow in production. Pop quiz hotshot, what do you do?

The most obvious choice would be to check system resource of your IIS web servers that run your application. For example, Performance Monitor (Perfmon) in Windows gives you visibility of how an application consumes server resource like CPU, memory, disk I/O and database connection pools. Unfortunately, Windows metrics and CLR counters simply tell you how resource is being consumed by an application, they don’t tell you what application component is responsible for that consumption. Application monitoring visibility must therefore go beyond traditional server metrics and health, they need to expose what application components are responsible for poor performance.

In addition to Perfmon you might also check:

  • Windows Event Viewer
  • Log files
  • SQL Profiler
  • Visual Studio Profiler

Visual Studio is the only viable option that really provides visibility into an application and its performance. The only limitation is that Visual Studio is really a profiler/debugger for development and test environments, it was never designed for production usage. Its safe to say there’s been a lack of free or commercial tools that will monitor .NET application performance out-of-the-box, in production. That is until now.

Introducing AppDynamics Lite for .NET

Today, we’re announcing AppDynamics Lite for .NET – the first completely free .NET application monitoring solution for production. This, in addition to our commercial solution AppDynamics Pro for .NET, which has already experienced significant success since its launch in July 2011.

Why release a free monitoring solution for .NET? Because we wanted to prove that monitoring .NET application performance in production can be simple, thru software that was designed to auto-discover, configure and monitor whats relevant in your .NET application, without you lifting a finger. Our mission at AppDynamics is to deliver maximum monitoring visibility thru minimal effort.

For example, 2 minutes after downloading and installing AppDynamics Lite for .NET you might see something like this:

Application Mapping, Business Transaction Monitoring and Diagnostics for Free!

Instead of looking at Server metrics, Events and SQL profiles, AppDynamics Lite will automatically discover and visualize your .NET application. Showing all IIS web server interactions (e.g. Web services, databases, LDAP and message queus), business transactions (user requests) and associated performance metrics. End users experience business transactions, with AppDynamics Lite you now have complete business transaction context to monitor and troubleshoot what your end users experience.

For example, in the screenshot above we can drill-down on the “Update Orders” business transaction to see why it was taking 7.9 seconds:

After drilling down we now see a view showing all bad requests (known as snapshots) that were captured by AppDynamics Lite. Snapshots represent an individual execution of a business transaction that relates to a user. You can see the response time of snapshots shown in the above screenshot differ. This means some user requests were OK, some threw exceptions (red icons) and others stalled (exclamation icons).

From the above snapshots view its possible to drill-down on any snapshot to understand its code execution and latency, as well as identifying the actual root cause behind slow performance:

 In the above screenshot, AppDynamics Lite provides a view showing the code execution latency (call graph) of application classes and methods that were invoked by the slow snapshot (business transaction). Its worth stating that this visibility is available in production with minimal impact to the application running. Notice that the majority of total response time spent in this “Update Order” business transaction was spent on two ADO.NET calls which took ~3.5 seconds each.

From the above view we can see the associated SQL calls by either clicking on the ADO.NET link (next to each call) or by clicking the “SQL Calls” tab to the left of the call graph. Here we see the two SQL statements responsible for the 7.5 second response time. We can now confirm that the root cause of “Update Orders” business transaction taking 7.5 seconds was data access and two offending SQL queries.

Pro-Active Alerting for Free!

AppDynamics Lite also has pro-active dashboard and alerting capabilities. This means you can continuously monitor the performance of your application and business transactions in real-time, and be alerted via email when performance deviates from its normal baseline or threshold. For example, below is a screenshot showing a simple dashboard which has been created with four alerts (Overall App Response Time, Overall App Errors/min, Get Product Response Time and Login Response Time). You can see that the Overall App Response Time is breaching its 1 second threshold, in this scenario an alert would be fired to development or operations so they can begin troubleshooting.

All these features are completely free and will run all day in production 24/7! AppDynamics Lite is limited to a single IIS web server, with AppDynamics Pro becoming the choice for applications that are distributed across multiple IIS web servers and services.

You’re literally two minutes away from monitoring your .NET application in production. Download AppDynamic Lite for .NET or request a free 30-day trial of AppDynamics Pro for .NET.

App Man.