What APM Vendors can learn from building Supercars

P1McLaren this year will launch their P1 Supercar, which will turn the average driver into a track day hero. What’s significant about this particular car is that it relies on modern day technology and innovation to transform a drivers ability to accelerate, corner and stop faster than any other car on the planet–because it has:

  1. 903bhp on tap derived from a combined V8 Twin Turbo and KERS setup, meaning it has a better power/weight ratio than a Bugatti Veyron
  2. Active aerodynamics & DRS to control the airflow so it remains stable under acceleration and braking without incurring drag
  3. Traction control and brake steer to minimize slip and increase traction in and out of corners
  4. 600Kg of downforce at 150mph so it can corner on rails up to 2G
  5. Lightness–everything exists for a purpose so there is less weight to transfer under braking and acceleration

You don’t have to be Lewis Hamilton or Michael Schumacher to drive it fast. The P1 creates enormous amounts of mechanical grip, traction, acceleration and feedback so the driver feels “confident” in their ability to accelerate, corner and stop, without losing control and killing themselves. I’ve been lucky enough to sit in the drivers seat of a McLaren MP4-12C and it’s a special experience – you have a driving wheel, some dials and some pedals – that’s really it, with no bells or whistles that you normally get in a Mercedes or Porsche. It’s “Focused” and “Pure” so the driver has complete visibility to drive as fast as possible, which is ultimately the whole purpose of the car.

How does this relate to Application Performance Monitoring (APM)?

Well, how many APM solutions today allow a novice user to solve complex application performance problems? Erm, not many. You need to be an uber geek with most because they’ve been written for developers by developers. Death by drill-down is a common symptom because novice APM users have no idea how to interpret metrics or what to look for. It would be like McLaren putting their F1 wheel with a thousand buttons in the new P1 road car for us novice drivers to play with.

It’s actually a lot worse than that though, because many APM vendors sell these things called “suites” that are enormously complex to install, configure and use. Imagine if you paid $1.4m and McLaren delivered you a P1 in 5 pieces and you had to assemble the engine, gearbox, chassis, suspension and brakes yourself? You’d have no choice but to pay McLaren for engineers to assemble it for with your own configuration. This is pretty much how most vendors have sold APM over the past decade–hence why they have hundreds of consultants. The majority of customers have spent more time and effort maintaining APM than using it to solve performance issues in their business. It’s kinda like buying a supercar and not driving it.

Fortunately, a few vendors like AppDynamics have succeeded in delivering APM through a single product that combines End User Monitoring, Application Discovery and Mapping, Transaction Profiling, Deep Diagnostics and Analytics. You download it, install it and you solve your performance issues in minutes–it just works out-of-the-box. What’s even great is that you can lease the APM solution through annual subscriptions instead of buying it outright with expensive perpetual licenses and annual maintenance.

If you want an APM solution that lets you manage application performance, then make sure it does just that for you. If you don’t get value from an APM solution in the first 20 minutes, then put it in the trash can because that’s 20 minutes of your time you’ve wasted not managing application performance. Sign up for a free trial of AppDynamics and find out how easy APM can be. If these vendors built their solutions like car manufacturers build supercars, then the world would be a faster place (no pun intended).

Appman.

AppDynamics Secures $20 Million in Series C Funding Led by Kleiner Perkins

When I joined AppDynamics less than a year ago, we were situated in a 6,000 sq ft “cozy” office on 2nd and Brannan. On my first day I was greeted with a MacBook Pro and was asked to find a spare desk amongst the boxes and carnage of a typical startup environment. To my left was a relentless engineering and UI team, and to my right was a fired up sales and marketing team, and a quietly confident Founder and CEO, Jyoti Bansal who made all of this happen. Across the office was a shiny gold bell mounted on the wall, which rang every time AppDynamics closed a new customer. In the last year I can honestly say that shiny bell hasn’t stopped ringing, and is the biggest adrenaline boost one can get while working.

France’s #1 Travel Site Karavel Selects AppDynamics for APM over Compuware Dynatrace & CA Wily

AppDynamics vs CA Wily vs DynaTrace2011 was an amazing year for AppDynamics. We experienced tremendous growth and success, largely down to the many customers around the world who believed in our vision, technology, and ability to help Dev and Ops teams better manage application performance in production. The Application Performance Management (APM) market isn’t an easy market to succeed in, with well over 30 vendors competing against each other. In just three years we’ve managed to take on the big players like Compuware DynaTrace, CA Wily, HP and IBM to change the industry perception that APM is expensive to own and difficult to deploy/use.

We feel APM should be for everyone. It should be affordable, it should be easy to deploy, and easy to use. APM should not be a luxury that only an elite group of enterprises can afford. Today, we have customers who monitor applications with 5 nodes, 50 nodes, 500 nodes and 5,000 nodes. Application performance impacts organizations of all sizes; that’s why we wanted our APM solution to be accessible to the masses over the web via our free download and SaaS trial. We wanted to be transparent with our buyers and demonstrate that they can evaluate and use our solution all by themselves with no account manager or technical consultant by their side. We really wanted prospects to see for themselves that APM can be simple to deploy and easy to use.

A major validation of this market disruption was when a customer called Karavel in France was looking for an APM solution and evaluated CA Wily, Compuware dynaTrace and AppDynamics. Karavel requested a trial, downloaded our software and we sent them a trial license key for 30 days. The whole AppDynamics install, deployment and evaluation was solely conducted by the customer on their own. This might not sound that impressive, but this is what the software buying experience should be all about: the customer and the solution. If the customer can’t install, deploy and evaluate an APM solution on their own, how will they manage this process when it comes to a production deployment? Software should sell itself these days–if it requires an army of people to sell it, it probably requires an army of people to implement it as well.

You can read the full Karavel press release here:
http://www.appdynamics.com/press/press-release-01-03-12.php

Full case study is available here also:
http://www.appdynamics.com/documents/roi_studies/AppDynamics_ROI_Karavel.pdf

Remember, software like APM doesn’t have to be complex and expensive. With the internet these days, there is no excuse why a prospect can’t download or evaluate solutions online in just a few hours.

App Man.

Storm Clouds in 2012? – Results of AppDynamics APM Survey

We recently finished conducting our annual Application Performance Management survey. Over 250 IT professionals participated, and they shared insights such as:
– Many Ops and Dev teams are anticipating growth in their applications by 20% or more
– Over 50% are planning to move to the cloud, and are architecting brand-new applications to be cloud-ready
– Most teams are using log files to monitor application performance, rather than an Application Performance Management (APM) tool.

We’ll release the full report soon, but here’s an infographic that summarizes some of the main findings:

AppDynamics Inforgraphic - Storm Clouds in 2012

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What I found personally surprising was the heavy reliance on log files. When you’re troubleshooting distributed architectures, time is of the essence–and there’s no way to cut your MTTR down when you’re relying on log files to identify root cause.

In fact, there’s only one guy who ever made using a log file look cool:

And I think we can all agree that’s a pretty unique use case.

We’ll have the full survey results available soon.

 

 

Not Everyone is an Application Expert

The majority of us in IT are specialists, with the exception of a few VPs of engineering who are “special” in their own “special” world of being “special.” What I mean by this is that no single person has the skills or experience to do everything well in IT. IT is too big for me to explain or summarize in a few words, other than it requires a lot of different people with different skills to make it tick along. Despite applications being the living breathing entities of the business, a large portion of folk in IT have little context of how applications are built, how they execute, and how they consume resource across the IT infrastructure. Many people simply don’t care as their responsibilities are completely void of anything application related. That’s fine–but the reality is that everyone in IT should have one eye on the business. The whole reason IT exists is so the business can be more competitive and make more money. If this happens, IT gets more budget and is allowed to innovate more. IT and the business need each other to survive, which is why when applications slow down or break, both parties bitch at each other.

Operations need better visibility

Unfortunately for both the business and IT, the people (Operations) who manage the performance and availability of applications in production aren’t application experts. They are also not stupid either; their skills sets are wide and broad across many technologies and platforms that underpin applications. They manage a lot of things that application developers take for granted, like networks, databases, storage and virtualization. While Operations monitor the health of these infrastructure components, they often get bombarded with crap from the business when end users and business transactions are being impacted by slow performance, despite all system monitoring showing everything is fine. This lack of understanding between the Business and Operations is because both parties see things from different perspectives.

Agent Intelligence

How intelligent is your monitoring agent?

The agent should not do too much processing locally to ensure minimal impact to application performance by utilizing the smallest CPU and memory footprint possible. On the other hand, offloading some processing to the agent results in less network traffic and more scalability from the monitoring Mgmt Server.

What does APM and Tiger Woods have in common?

At the USA PGA golf tourney last week, Tiger Woods missed the cut for only the 3rd time in his career. Whilst “Go Tiger” has indeed taken on a completely new meaning over the past few years, he is still the worlds #1 sports earner. CNN recently published the 50 highest-earning American athletes in which Tiger was ranked #1 ($90 million). We’ve got no axe to grind with Tiger, but if you study his earnings closely, the reality is that he is living off his past glory.  Over 70% of his earnings for the past three years have come from endorsements and sponsorship. Yet, if you look at ESPN’s worldwide golf rankings this year, you’ll see that Tiger ranks #33 for his actual play.  The current top three in the world (Luke Donlad, Lee Westwood & Steve Stricker) may not have won a major but they’ve been more consistent with Top 10 finishes.