As a relative newcomer to the world of Application Performance Management (APM) and the larger category of Application Intelligence, I knew I had a lot to learn. I came into this market having spent the last 15 years in the Analytics space. The idea of taking large volumes of disparate data and turning it into actionable insight is something I’ve always found compelling. Though people generally think of a flashy dashboard, Analytics is so much more. At Business Objects I got to be part of the evolution from standardized reporting through ad hoc analysis, data exploration, and predictive analysis. There was still a significant barrier though to making it work in the real-world where data volume, variety and velocity were too much to handle at the application level. Data had to be extracted and transformed before being made available in a data warehouse or mart where it became available to an end user. That’s an expensive and time consuming process that only offered the insight you’re looking for hours, days or even weeks later. However, at SAP our customers were finally able to realize the promise of these new capabilities with the introduction of SAP HANA (High-performance Analytic Appliance). That in-memory platform delivered amazing computing power capable of simplifying the infrastructure of application environments while giving the business real-time insight.
The business impact derived with the right information at the right time is staggering to the point that customers have been willing to pay SAP handsomely for these capabilities. Companies can drive huge revenue increases, save millions in cost, and reduce their risk substantially by better leveraging their data assets. I have great passion for the space and helping customers use insights to change their business.
Given my background, getting into the APM space seemed like a huge leap. My impression was I’d be working with IT organizations more than the business owners. I’d be in a much more technical space, solving technology problems more than business issues. Clearly, I had a lot to learn. I started the learning process by focusing on two things: learning the product and understanding how it drives value for our customers.
First, I began to familiarize myself with the product and learn how the features provide benefit. As an APM tool, AppDynamics can help people quickly find bad code, inefficient code, database problems and a host of other things that negatively impact the experience for end users of applications. I don’t want to discount the value of deep knowledge and experience in the APM space, but after watching a demo or two and playing with the software a bit I felt like I could use AppDynamics to find problems and performance bottlenecks in an application. It was simple and instantly compelling.
The second phase of learning was digging into customer use cases and how they realize value with AppDynamics. There are some amazing stories of real business impact. Here are a few of my favorites:
FamilySearch: Using AppDynamics FamilySearch saved $4.8M in infrastructure and related costs over two years by making their applications more efficient. With help from AppDynamics they scaled the use of their application 10x without growing their infrastructure!
Fox News: After deploying AppDynamics they reduced their MTTR (mean time to resolution) from weeks to under a few hours. They decreased the number of support tickets by 90%, and they stabilized new releases in hours compared to the full week it used to take them.
Edmunds.com: With AppDynamics they went from having 10 people working on a single problem for several days to fixing things in a few hours. That’s a huge productivity improvement and a dramatic reduction in lost revenue.
During a proof-of-value implementation with a large prospect we helped them immediately identify a bug they knew existed but couldn’t find. 30 minutes later the problem was resolved. Later, over dinner and drinks they were noticeably excited and acknowledged they had worked around this bug by adding 2,000 additional servers to their environment. Those 2,000 servers were no longer needed. That’s an unbelievable cost savings and it took less than an hour!
You can learn more about how these and other companies are getting impressive value out of AppDynamics at http://www.appdynamics.com/case-studies.
After immersing myself with these learning exercises it suddenly occurred to me Application Performance Management is simply another form of Analytics. It turns large amounts of data into information you can use to take quick action. It can help you drive revenue, reduce costs and mitigate risks. The results can be incredibly exciting. Our customers are seeing it every day!
With that realization, it was time for me to take the next step and dig into Real-Time Business Metrics, Transaction Analytics and the corresponding transformation of APM into Application Intelligence. By being plugged directly into an application’s code you can get real-time analytics without the challenges and costs associated with traditional analytics. It’s a game changer for business and IT, and this will be the focus of the upcoming Part 2 in this series.