AppDynamics and ServiceNow Integration Updates for Knowledge 17

ServiceNow Knowledge17 kicks off this week in Orlando, Florida. Right across the street from Gartner ITOSSS, AppDynamics will have a booth and presence at both events. I’ll be leading a lunch session at the Gartner event, along with a panel featuring several key customers discussing their journey with APM as well as broader IT trends .

With ServiceNow launching the Jakarta release, we’ve made some major improvements in our integration. Here are some key highlights and screenshots showing the new features and functions.

We’ve built a completely standalone web user interface to manage the integration and the large capabilities within it. The web user interface is not required, but provides some benefits aside from ease of use. The web UI runs on a small standalone Jetty container which acts as a web server and application server. It can run on any host which has access to both your AppDynamics and ServiceNow instances. In this blog, we’ll touch on the new features of this major improvement.

The most widely requested feature by the dozens of customers using the integration is to import the metadata we collect in the AppDynamics tables into the CMDB. As you can see from the screenshots, we’ve done this, and we’re going to continue building mapping capabilities in the new web user interface.

AppDynamics’ key differentiator in APM is the Business Transaction. This technology allows the automatic discovery or manual configuration of key application transactions, which are then captured from end-to-end, visualized in our Map iQ technology, and given a scorecard. We now export and include Business Transaction data within the ServiceNow CMDB and the AppDynamics tables within ServiceNow. This includes which applications have which Business Transactions. This enables you to open incident, problem, and change workflows against these applications, and understand the Business Transaction impact.

In the new web UI, you can configure multiple ServiceNow instances which you wish to synchronize. This allows you to keep multiple instances up-to-date across your environments.

In a similar manner, we allow for the configuration of multiple AppDynamics controllers. In this case, we are synchronizing with both SaaS and on-premises instances.

You may then define which AppDynamics platforms should synchronize with which ServiceNow instances. We’ve added the ability to test and run diagnostics here, making configuration and debugging easier than ever. We’ve also allowed users to configure which relationship data should be included in the synchronization process.

Once your data sources are configured, we’ve also added the ability to schedule multiple synchronizations using a Cron format and our integrated quartz scheduler.

We’ve also included proxy configuration, which has been another feature our customers have requested.

In order to debug and understand how the integration is working, we’re collecting key events which occur on each run.

Major kudos to the AppDynamics engineering team, who as usual have gone above and beyond in building this amazing set of enhancements. The partnership and work between AppDynamics and ServiceNow continues to thrill our mutual customers and drive application visibility into service management use cases.

Come and talk to me and our engineering team at the AppDynamics booth, number 641. You can get a demo of the integration and learn more about our products and future path with ServiceNow.

Please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @jkowall.

AppDynamics Now Offers More than 100 Extensions

At AppDynamics, it’s been our mission to equip enterprises with true Application Intelligence. As the expanded application ecosystem grows, many enterprises are using a combination of legacy, contemporary, and cutting-edge infrastructure components. So today we’re proud to announce we now integrate with over 100 extensions so users can leverage performance insights like never before. We strive to create a seamless extension ecosystem to merge with your current toolset.

The Application Intelligence Platform is open, extensible, and interoperable to fit any business need. Through our extension ecosystem, AppDynamics Exchange, our community comes together to share knowledge and contribute back extensions that provide deep integrations to the tools modern enterprises frequently use.
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A few extension categories I’d like to highlight are:

Monitoring extensions – integration metrics from other monitoring systems and services such as Apache, RabbitMQ, CouchBase, IBM DataPower, and Apica.

Alerting extensions – allow creation of custom notifications to integration AppDynamics’ health rule violations and events with alerting or ticketing systems such as PagerDuty, VictorOps, ServiceNow, and Atlassian JIRA.

Cloud auto-scaling extensions – integration cloud orchestration functionality such as creating, destroying, restarting, configuring, and validating machine and image instances. These include Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.

REST API & SDKs – enable retrieval of data from the AppDynamics system, including application and infrastructure metadata, metrics, events, and transaction snapshots. AppDynamics developer SDKs are available on Github. Through our API, you can download our Java SDK and the Python SDK.

With these integrations, users can monitor metrics within a business context, rapidly remediate issues, and automate baselining to detect glitches. Extensions also leverage the core Application Intelligence Platform including APM, mobile, and analytics.

Using AppDynamics and our slew of extensions, companies can help foster a DevOps culture and enable IT Ops, developers, and business professionals understand their application data, troubleshoot performance issues, and make strategic business decisions.

Come check out our community of extensions here, and download a FREE trial of AppDynamics today!

Best Practice for ITSM Professionals Using Monitoring and Alerting

I’ve only been with AppDynamics a few months and wish I knew 10 years ago what I know now. Using technology, businesses have moved on leaps and bounds, but the fundamental enterprise IT challenges remain the same — just with increased complexity.

10 years ago, as the Director of IT Business and Service Management with a large european investment bank., I was tasked with IT governance and control environment. My main goal was to ensure IT had full visibility of the service it provided to the business.

The goal of the program was to ensure IT managed every business-critical application issue:

  • Restoring an issue while informing the customer about the problem and the business impact of the issue
  • Notifying the customer of application issues and expected mean-time-to-resolution (MTTR)
  • This seems so easy when condensed into 2 sentences, and it really should be in the modern world of IT in an investment bank. However, those who have experienced this it’s anything but and the tasks were more accurately:

  • Knowing all the technical intricacies for every business service
  • Knowing the underlying configuration items (CI’s) that supported each technical service
  • Monitoring the performance and status of every CI
  • Every time the configuration of the IT estate changed I needed to know the impact that this would have on the business service
  • Historically, in an ideal world

    To help with our role, we deployed an application discovery and dependency-mapping tool, which continually monitored the topology of our estate. This tool populated our configuration database (CMDB) with all the changes, and also reconciled them to the approved state of the estate, informing us on any deviations.

    We implemented monitoring tools on all of the CI’s to ensure proper performance. To help us receive proper notifications, we configured the tools to alert us any time there was a performance issue with any of the CI’s — in theory updating the technical and business services. The IT service owner would then confirm the service was restored and create a problem record.

    Once the problem record was created, the IT team would analyze and look for the root cause of the issue and create (or log) and error. This ideal procedure would foster a balanced IT situation within the bank. However, the situation was anything but ideal.

    In principle, this all seems relatively simple but the maintenance and manual control of the environment was unachievable.

  • The CMDB was not updated accurately
  • The alerting system was not continuously integrated
  • The technical service were not updated with any changes
  • Often, the root cause analysis was not confirmed
  • It was unlikely the errors were logged
  • Why was this the case, considering we had (in essence) deployed an out of the box ITSM environment based on an ITIL best practice? Simply put, here’s why:

  • Alerting was based on static thresholds
  • The estate changed rapidly and we couldn’t model the CMBD quickly enough
  • Lack of dynamic baselines resulted in inaccurate alert storms and an impossible root cause analysis
  • Without knowing the root cause, we couldn’t correctly log the errors
  • No changes were made without authenticating the errors
  • How AppDynamics helps IT

    Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t completely incompetent, we still had manual governance and control over the critical business process and service. However, all we had was a state of the art ITSM solution adhering to an ITIL best practice, and we went about our day jobs in pretty much the same way as we had before. Like having a Ferrari sitting in your garage collecting dust.

    So this brings me back to where I am today, working at AppDynamics and a little smarter than I was 10 years ago. With AppDynamics:

  • Monitor business transactions at a code level
  • Provide a continuously updated topology of the business service
  • Receive alerts based on dynamical baselines
  • Using the AppDynamics flow map, update the business and technical services to improve the overall quality
  • Easily see the root cause within the environment
  • Update the problem records in a service management toolset
  • If we had had AppDynamics at the bank our lives would have been much easier and the bank would be performing optimally, instead of the bottleneck and broken flow we had mapped out.

    This is the benefit of next generation application intelligence tools. They make the important measurable, not the measurable important. Please check out my white paper on dynamic ticketing with our integration with ServiceNow here.