Introducing Availability Monitoring for HTTP Services

As businesses are undergoing digital transformation and the application complexity is exploding, many companies are moving their applications and services to the cloud or leveraging web services from third-parties whose core competency is their service. Increasingly enterprise applications are consuming third-party web services, however, they do not usually have direct control nor visibility into those services.

In the AppDynamics Winter ‘16 (4.2) release, we introduced a new Service Availability Monitoring (SAM) solution to help our customers track the availability and essential performance metrics for HTTP services that are not natively monitored with an AppDynamics agent.

In this blog, I will provide some additional details on the use cases and configuration of Service Availability Monitoring for our APM customers.

Check availability of web services not initially monitored by AppDynamics

Although AppDynamics provides visibility into applications and web services written in the most popular languages including Java, .NET, Node.js, PHP, Python and C/C++, there are still many packaged software and third-party applications that we don’t manage natively.

The new Service Availability Monitoring solution, which runs as an add-on to the Server Visibility module of AppDynamics Application Intelligence Platform, can help check the availability and responsiveness of those applications with an HTTP interface.

Inside-out view of external web services from the datacenter

There are many synthetic monitoring solutions out there (including AppDynamics Synthetic Monitoring), which can check the availability of any web page or service from different places in the world. However, in many cases when enterprise applications and web services consume and depend on external web services, then it’s important to get an inside-out view of the availability and responsiveness of those external web services.

With Service Availability Monitoring, AppDynamics helps customers to get this inside out view of external web services previously undetected.

Easy configuration for Service Availability Monitoring

Configuring a service for availability monitoring is pretty easy by entering (a minimum) of the following 3 values in the main tab:

  • NameName of your choice for this target configuration. This name appears in the Service Availability list.

  • TargetThe resource to be monitored, for example, http://externalWebService.com Specify which HTTP method to use to send the request (GET, POST, HEAD). Default is GET

  • Server – Select the name of the server from a drop-down list of servers on which Server Monitoring is licensed and enabled.

There are various advanced configurations that can be done on the main tab, but a default value is selected for all of them.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 4.52.51 PM.png

Fig 1: Service Availability Monitoring Configuration

To complete the basic configuration for server availability checks, you need to set at least one validation rule under the “Response Validators” tab. You can provide a list of rules to validate whether the monitored service is healthy. If any rule is violated, the response is considered failed.

For each rule, you can specify an HTTP property (e.g. Status Code), an operator (e.g. equals), and a value (e.g. 200). The list of operators varies depending on the property selected in the first drop-down list.

Optionally, in the “Request Configuration” tab, you can define a list of customized headers to send with requests. For example, the list can mimic desktop or mobile browsers. You can also define a request body for POST requests.

Once a service is configured for monitoring, the Server Monitoring Agent (or Machine Agent), checks the service according to the configuration, evaluating the response against your specified validation rules. When a validation rule is violated for a response, the response is categorized as a failed response. If no rule is violated, it’s classified as a successful response. The state of the service is evaluated based on the values you specify for the results window, success threshold, and failure threshold.

An E-Commerce example that consumes external web services

Let’s look at an example E-Commerce solution that uses shipment services from FedEx and UPS as well as a Google search for their customers to search for things that’re available on their site. The E-Commerce solution is written in Java and instrumented for monitoring by AppDynamics. However, the vendor does not have any control on the three web servers it uses.

They can now use the new Service Availability Monitoring solution to check the availability and responsiveness of these external web services via AppDynamics. After some simple configuration, they view (Fig 1) the health and responsiveness of these web services by clicking on “Servers” from the top menu and then on “Service Availability” from the left-hand side menu.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 4.00.20 PM.png

Fig 2: Service Availability Monitoring of external web services

For example, let’s look at the FedEx Shipment service. The response validator is configured to look for HTTP status code 200. As you can see in Fig 3 below, the validation check passed during the last 15 minutes of when the screenshot was taken.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 11.26.44 PM.png

Fig 3: Service details of a healthy web service

In another example, let’s look at the UPS Shipment service, where the response validator is configured to look for the phrase ‘Ecommerce Success’ in the HTTP response body. As you can see in Fig 4 below, it always fails to validate since the response body does not contain the phrase ‘Ecommerce Success’.

Screen Shot 2016-01-26 at 11.29.45 PM.png

Fig 4: Service details of a web service that failed validation

Hopefully, this gives you an overview of use cases and how to get started with the Service Availability Monitoring add-on of the AppDynamics Server Visibility module. Learn more about the configuration and additional details in the Service Availability Monitoring section of the AppDynamics documentation.

AppDynamics and Apica: A Partnership Made for Performance

AppDynamics and Apica: A Partnership Made for PerformanceAt AppDynamics we’re always looking to partner with vendors that can significantly enhance the visibility we provide our customers when it comes to managing application performance in production. One area we see synergies is in synthetic monitoring and load testing, specifically for the next generation of cloud and mobile applications. So when Apica, the performance and load testing company for cloud, web and mobile applications came to us to join forces, we were stoked.

On June 26th, Apica and AppDynamics announced a partnership to provide DevOps an integrated monitoring solution to gain 10x visibility into application availability and performance, with the power to identify the root cause of slow downs and outages in as few as 3-clicks.

We’ve seen how development agility can be directly proportional to production fragility. Reproducing complex, distributed production architectures in test is tough, because data volumes, computing resource and user behavior always differ. This is why many organizations are starting to test application performance in production, so they can stress test out-of-hours and pro-actively identify severity-1 incidents before end users and the business is impacted.

Monitoring visibility across geo-locations, browsers and mobile devices

Giving DevOps the visibility they need to see how their applications perform, in production, under load, across geo-locations, different browsers and mobile devices helps DevOps be pro-active in managing application performance. This is where Apica’s synthetic monitoring and load testing products helps organizations understand how an application is performing from an end user, location, browser or device perspective.

“Users expect a fast and reliable web, cloud, and mobile experience. Every second delay can cost businesses valuable customers and revenue,” says Sven Hammar, CEO of Apica. “Together with AppDynamics, we’re providing users with best-of-breed solutions to ensure uptime and availability for revenue-critical applications. They’ll have the most complete understanding available of the metrics that are powering or causing problems for their applications so they can take measures to improve performance.”

AppDynamics integrates with the following three Apica products:

Apica WebPerformance – Verifies the performance and availability of your mission-critical applications from over 80 different locations world-wide.

Apica ProxySniffer – Automates creation of load test scripts and scenarios by recording real end-user traffic

Apica LoadTest – A cloud-based load testing tool for your mission-critical applications

You can access the Apica portal via any web browser or mobile device. Thru this new partnership AppDynamics real-time monitoring data is now seamlessly available in Apica portal, so DevOps can now drill-down a level further to understand the root cause of slowdowns and availability issues.

Apica Web Performance

Apica WebPerformance

Like AppDynamics, Apica has similar synergies to application performance management (APM):

Complete Lifecycle Visibility – We have customers that deploy our solutions in both production and pre-production environments. For Apica, scripts used for load testing thru LoadTest can also be applied to WebPerformance as well to test application availability and performance in production.

Real-time monitoring – understanding the true end user experience 24/7; specifically around business transactions and the application infrastructure, so pro-active alert notifications can be sent to DevOps when service degradation is identified.

Built for the Cloud – Apica LoadTest is cloud-ready so organizations can automate load tests and find the optimal configuration for their cloud deployments.

Below is a short clip of the direct integration of AppDynamics with Apica allowing DevOps to monitor all of the business transactions and system resources in real-time. There is also contextual business transaction drill-down that takes a user from the Apica portal into the AppDynamics user interface so the root cause of performance issues can rapidly found.


You can start your free trial with Apica’s performance and load testing solution by clicking here. For more details on monitoring your applications with Apica and AppDynamics, please visit Apica’s AppDynamics partner page.