Forrester Talks Automation and Application Performance Management

Jean-Pierre (JP) Garbani of the analyst firm Forrester recently wrote a research paper titled “Technology Spotlight: Automate Application Performance Management – Automate Your Incident Management Process With Run Book Automation“. In this paper JP discusses the fact that IT must embrace automation if they are to be successful moving forward. He goes on to describe Run Book Automation (RBA) and how it applies to Application Performance Management (APM).

One of the most interesting parts of the research note is a graphical depiction of the intersection between APM and RBA. While I can’t show that image in this blog post I can say that it is a spot on depiction of how RBA works within AppDynamics. For those who are not familiar, AppDynamics decided to lead the APM industry in a new direction by listening to our customers and making RBA an important and fully integrated part of our product.

If you take nothing else away from this blog post or from JPs research paper you need to understand this key insight… The reason APM based RBA works so much better than traditional RBA is because APM understands exactly which application nodes are impacted at any given time and can perform run book remediation on those nodes without any input from a user.

The Old Way

Traditional RBA requires that you write tests to act as triggers for run book workflows. You would run these tests against pre-defined sets of infrastructure and application components when there is a problem so that your runbooks can fix any known issues. If your application and infrastructure change you need to manually modify the list components that are getting tested. This manual update process has been the downfall of RBA and other technologies (CMDB anyone?) as people have come to realize the time investment required to keep everything current. This problem is amplified by todays dynamic application technologies like virtualization and cloud computing.

Classic RBA Process

Process flow and timeline of classic RBA.

The New Way

Forrester and AppDynamics agree that the answer to the traditional RBA problem described above is by using APM to dynamically track the current state of application and infrastructure components as well as identify problems that trigger run book workflows for resolution. Identification of issues from within the application and in real time is a giant step forward from the pre-determined interval testing of traditional RBA. And when you combine this capability with real time business metrics you get a new capability that enables the business to react immediately to problems that have nothing to do with IT.

APM RBA Process

Process flow and timeline of APM based RBA.

Application run book automation can be used by any organization large or small. If there are issues within your environment that have known fixes then you can use application RBA to automatically detect and remediate those problems within seconds. Stop wasting your time doing repetitive tasks and try AppDynamics for free today. If you’d like to read the Forrester research paper in its entirety you can download it for free by clicking here.

Application Runbook Automation – A Detailed Walk Through

On Monday AppDynamics announced a new feature called Application Runbook Automation (RBA). The response to this announcement has been great and many people want to see the details on how we implement RBA within AppDynamics. If you attended one of our customer webinars for AppDynamics 3.7 Sneak Peek then you got to see RBA in action during a live demo. Here is a link to the webinar recording in case you want to see for yourself. After all, a video is worth a million words. Otherwise, I’m going to walk you through it step by step in this blog post.

If you don’t already know WHY we built Application RBA please read “Don’t Be An “Also-Ran” – Application Runbook Automation for World Class IT”

Let’s jump right in…

Don’t be an “Also-Ran” – Application Runbook Automation for World Class IT

Your applications are the lifeblood of your business–the culmination of countless hours of development, testing, bug fixes, more testing, and finally deployment to production. No matter how good your coding and testing practices are, though, eventually your applications will slow down, start to throw errors, and crash. How quickly and effectively you remediate these business impacting problems is the difference between world class IT organizations and the “also rans.”

Application Runbook Automation from AppDynamics is a game changing technology that can remediate business impact in a matter of seconds. It can represent a savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars per incident. Read more to find out how…

rba revenue risk 2

This table shows the business impact in USD of reducing MTTR from hours to minutes to seconds by taking advantage of AppDynamics and application run book automation.

 

So What’s a Runbook Really?

In case you’ve been locked in an IT dungeon for your whole career, let’s take a minute to talk about runbooks. Runbooks are the cure for insomnia, the crappy part of application support where you document how to stop and restart your awesome application that will never, ever fail. But just in case, some of you are also forced by the evil management regime to document troubleshooting procedures along with remediation steps for the common problems that could cause your application to misbehave.

All of this documentation (Runbook) is handed off to your friendly operations center staff so that it can be stuffed away in a giant repository never to be heard from again. After all, the job of the NOC (network operations center) is just to receive and route alerts to the proper people–so why even write out those runbooks in the first place?

You know how to restart your application when you get paged at 3 AM, no documentation required. You can recover your application within 30-120 minutes of initial impact half asleep with one hand tied behind your back. Unfortunately, during that time your company just lost revenue, customers, and tarnished their reputation. Tough break, but that’s just the way it is today. But there’s a better way!

Hasn’t Runbook Automation (RBA) Been Around for a While?

Yep, RBA is that expensive software sitting on your corporate shelf right now. It can’t help you with the problem described above. It’s become niche software for infrastructure support personnel who know nothing about your applications (and are offended they consume so much of their resources, kidding of course). Traditional RBA is a colossal failure that knows nothing about your user, business transactions, and applications. It’s this lack of application awareness that has relegated RBA to being used by a handful of infrastructure support personnel in your company.

Watch this 2 minute video for a quick overview of Application Runbook Automation from AppDynamics…

Application Runbook Automation is a Business Differentiator

The time has come to fulfill the promise of automated remediation of business impact. Consider this:

  • AppDynamics understands exactly what components are being used at any given time by your applications.
  • It knows exactly what your end users are doing all the time and tracks and measures that activity through your application components.
  • It knows what transactions are slow or failing and exactly what code, configuration, and nodes are causing the problems.

Using this granular level of problem detection and isolation, AppDynamics application RBA understands business impact and takes the appropriate action to remediate within seconds of detection. There are many problems that get detected automatically and many remediation’s already available out of the box to take advantage of so you don’t have to code your own. You can also re-use your existing RBA processes and scripts to take advantage of all that hard work that has been done in the past. You can even integrate your Puppet and Chef tools directly with AppDynamics. Why re-invent the wheel?!

Application RBA is powerful and flexible. You have the choice to take action automatically or to be prompted for authorization if you’re not ready to trust in the judgement of machines just yet. Your troubleshooting and remediation actions can be executed on only the impacted nodes, on all associated nodes in a tier, or at the overall application level. Application awareness and flexibility empower you to manage your applications the way you need to for your unique business.

Monitoring, Meet Management

Management has long been the missing dimension from the promise of APM. The lack of focus on this problem by the monitoring industry needs to change and AppDynamics is leading the way. When most applications were run on a handful of servers it was acceptable to overlook the management aspect and just focus on pointing out where the problems were. With modern applications scaling to hundreds and thousands of nodes it’s becoming impossible for humans to keep ahead of the management challenges without using machine automation.

If you need to remediate business impact caused by slow or crashed applications as fast as possible, Application Runbook Automation from AppDynamics is just what you need.

Try AppDynamics with Application Runbook Automation for free today.