Welcome!

DevOps Journal Authors: Paul Speciale, Lori MacVittie, Carmen Gonzalez, Ivan Antsipau, Sandi Mappic

Blog Feed Post

Thinking About APM? 4 Key Considerations for Buy vs. Build Your Own

image_pdfimage_print

Most technology folks have heard Marc Andreessen’s provocative statement, “Software is eating the world.”  Whether you agree fully or not, you’re realizing that your business critical software applications increasingly drive both the top-line revenue growth and the bottom-line operational efficiency of your company – and often form the pillar of your business identity.  

Legacy monitoring systems you have in place, capturing and alerting on scores of infrastructure level metrics, have helped protect your technology investment to some degree.  I’ve worked for two leaders in that space, HP and BMC, so can personally attest to the real benefits of server, network and database monitoring that clients achieve.  However, as consumer demand for superior services and faster innovation accelerate, we see that the applications and associated business transactions are what end-users ultimately care about.  You can no longer afford slow response time, let alone application outage situations, as customers will delay or abandon purchases – or worse yet switch to a competitor when you have unacceptable application performance.  And unfortunately these “Yellow Light” or slow performance situations are the most challenging to detect and fix!

So you’ve come to the conclusion that you need a full-fledged application performance management (APM) solution.  The question some companies wrestle with at this point is: “Should we invest in an 3rd party APM solution or build it ourselves?”

Four key considerations should be:

  1. Upfront Costs – such as Initial Project Build & Software License cost.

  2. Ongoing, Annual Solution Costs – such as Server / Storage footprint, administrative maintenance & support, & agile development / release activities.

  3. Solution Capabilities Driving Benefits – chiefly, the ability to drive down the number of performance defects in production, as well as the MTTR when issues do occur.

  4. Opportunity Costs – personnel resources working on in-house APM, versus are there mature 3rd party APM solutions available for purchase.

1.  Upfront Costs

It’s difficult to estimate exactly how long it would take a company to develop a basic application monitoring tool in-house – but we’ll give it a logical shot.  Of course, on the plus side, the company would avoid spending money on a “commercial off-the-shelf” (COTS) 3rd party software application.  Based on experience for design, development, testing, and release, a good estimate for an in-house Initial Project Build is a team of 2-3 Engineers about 6 months to have a basic, log parsing and alerting tool ready.  A more robust tool for a medium to large sized deployment may be 2-3x this size and investment.  A gaming company we work with, when assessing an in-house build situation, estimated an APM product development lifecycle in the 12 to 18 month range.  Why?  APM functionality that involves tracing the user experience of distributed transactions, where every call needs to be traced across each service layer, is non-trivial technical work.  Also, you’ll need to factor in one-time hardware and prerequisite software purchasing costs.  So a ballpark cost from $400K to well into seven figures is reasonable.

What would be the upfront software licensing cost of a 3rd party APM solution?  Probably in a similar range, perhaps higher in certain cases.  Also, many APM companies offer lower annual SaaS subscription costs as an alternative to full upfront licensing payments – which add up to the same licensing fees over 3-5 years.  However, you should take into consideration that some solutions such as AppDynamics, which can be downloaded and installed via self-service within hours, provide immediate Time-to-Value versus waiting for a full software development lifecycle to occur for a custom built solution.

Advantage:  Cost = In-house (slight? depends on robustness of APM solution built), Time-to-Value = 3rd Party APM

2.  Ongoing, Annual Solution Costs

First, let’s determine the hardware & storage footprint required for the solution.  Typical in-house developed solutions architect for over-capacity as a rough estimate because of unknowns, and to avoid encountering limitations & performance issues.  A good estimate per environment (Dev, Test, Prod) may be 2 Large Servers and 16 TB of Storage for a starter in-house APM solution.  This cost might run in the $100K to $135K range per year.

For 3rd party APM solutions, the specs are well-known, validated, and published.  A leading APM solution like AppDynamics has been built and tuned via R&D by specialists over several years.  The footprint for a similar medium-sized deployment would be 1 Medium Server and 6 TB of Storage, for a rough cost of about $40-50K per year – or less than half of the in-house cost.

From an FTE support perspective for the in-house solution, you have to understand the administrative, support, & enhancement / new development labor required.  A good admin & support estimate would run about 1-2 FTEs, and new development might run 2 engineering FTEs to keep up with enhancement requests and coverage for new applications & technologies.  Remember, users will not expect the APM solution to stay static!  You might start with basic metric stores and time series data, but this will quickly run out of steam.  Next, you’ll want to build a baseline engine for the metric store based on load patterns and percentiles of metrics, as examples.  Demand for dashboarding and security access control requirements come into play, and require much design and testing work especially as the solution scales.  So this annual labor cost would run in the $375K plus range.

On top of that, in today’s Agile DevOps world, there are additional maintenance / revision labor costs each time a business application is released to production.  Appliances and/or monitoring agents need updating, and both application and business transaction topology maps likely need to be revised manually.  As the frequency of application release grows, often to a bi-weekly application release schedule, these are not insignificant tasks.  We estimate in a medium sized deployment, this could require about 2,000 labor hours per year to keep up, or about $100K.

In the AppDynamics APM world, these types of capabilities are already built into the solution.  So the maintenance per application release is zero since there is automated application discovery, mapping, and business transaction flows out of the box.  The ongoing FTE administrative & maintenance requirements for a medium-sized deployment are 1 FTE, or about $125K/year.  And new development is covered in the license costs via the hundreds of R&D professionals contributing to the various releases of the 3rd party software.

Advantage:  3rd Party APM (large, especially adding up multiple years)

3.  Solution Capabilities Driving Benefits

Next we look at the ability of an APM solution to provide benefits to your enterprise – which can be grouped into reducing costs, mitigating risks, and increasing or protecting revenue.  Two key performance metrics we suggest for measuring impact on cost, risk, and revenue are:

  1. # defects released to production

  2. Mean time to repair (MTTR) per performance issue

At AppDynamics, this is where we’ve invested our R&D dollars since 2008, and our industry-exceeding Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 84 – i.e., more than 8 in 10 customers would recommend us to a friend or colleague – is a testimony to our ability to achieve these benefits.

By leveraging AppDynamics in Pre-Production, our clients often report reduction in performance issues released to Production of 40%.  And by watching every line of code executed in Production, and measuring & scoring each transaction, we provide a “3 clicks to resolution” approach that often reduces MTTR per performance issue by 65% or more.  This is true of small application environments, as well as large deployments over 20,000 JVMs.

For an in-house solution, you have to assess what it would take to build similar APM capabilities to achieve these levels of defect and MTTR reduction.  How many years, developers, and dollars?  (And, as one client executive recently told us, “If I could do this, why wouldn’t my company be competing in the APM software space?!”)  Or alternatively and more likely, “let’s stitch something low-cost together” in-house.  Admittedly this sacrifices capability for cost cost, which translates into fewer features to address the MTTR and # of performance issue challenges you face.

For ballpark purposes, then, let’s credit the in-house solution in helping reduce both # of defects and MTTR up to 20%.  If we use an industry average cost per minute of slowness / downtime equating to $500 (inclusive of both labor and revenue protection factors), and there is one Sev1 performance issue per application per quarter – the difference between the in-house solution versus an APM solution would equate to over $1M per year for a medium sized deployment.

Advantage:  3rd Party APM (not close; and these add up year over year, too)

4.  Opportunity Costs

These costs deal chiefly with choosing what is most valuable for your developers to spend their time on.  Especially in today’s high-technology enterprises, there are excellent engineers capable of building fantastic tools across a wide range of areas – so it is tempting to initiate an in-house APM build project and get something out the door.  However, APM is not these engineers’ specialty and their talents are often better utilized on alternative software projects related to the core goods & services your company sells to your end-use customers that drive revenue.

This is an area we won’t attempt to quantify, as it’s more of a qualitative assessment and business decision specific to your organization.  But with a fairly mature and continually developing 3rd Party APM market, for most enterprises it’s logical to say….

Advantage:  3rd Party APM

4.  Summary

While the initial, upfront set of costs for an in-house vs. 3rd party APM solution purchase may be about the same (license vs build) – which leads some organizations to consider a “Do It Yourself” approach – there are significant ongoing annual costs for the care and feeding of an in-house APM solution compared to the 3rd party APM alternative.  These include the infrastructure footprint, as well as labor costs associated with administration, maintenance & enhancements.

The biggest differential in cost is typically related to the chief purpose of an APM solution – how often does it proactively reduce the number of production defects, and how fast does it help you resolve performance issues when they do inevitably occur?

Screen Shot 2014-06-19 at 8.47.02 AM

For a medium sized deployment, the total cost / benefit advantages of a 3rd party APM solution easily exceed $1M per year when compared to the in-house build alternative.  This benefit accumulates year over year.  And it’s worth mentioning here at AppDynamics, we achieve magnitudes of benefit even beyond other 3rd party APM solutions with lesser capabilities.  We’ve leveraged the feedback of our over 1,000 customers during the past several years to drive R&D and greater benefit realization.

For AppDynamics, these advantages stem from:

  1. The way our solution is architected to require minimal setup, upkeep and Time-to-Value, while providing ongoing Ease of Use.

  2. Key capabilities – such as transaction tracing across complex, distributed applications, in your data center and the cloud – which lead to significant improvement in KPIs such as # performance defects and MTTR.

  3. Our ability to intelligently scale to support the most complex and largest Pre-Production and Production environments.

  4. Thought-leadership expanding into our “Application Intelligence” platform with a host of new modules and capabilities.

So when assessing an in-house vs 3rd party APM solution, consider a multi-year TCO horizon and not just a short-term initial cost estimate.  Our personnel at AppDynamics standby to provide you help in not only getting a deep-dive on the APM market and our solution features, but also to analyze the value of APM choices via a detailed ROI assessment.

Thinking of trying a next generation APM solution rather than build it yourself? Try AppDynamics for free today!

The post Thinking About APM? 4 Key Considerations for Buy vs. Build Your Own written by appeared first on Application Performance Monitoring Blog from AppDynamics.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Sandi Mappic

Sandi Mappic has a passion for making apps go faster. She works with AppDynamics around the clock to help customers resolve performance pain and master application performance management. (This is AppDynamics blog feed written by several different AppDynamics bloggers.)

@DevOpsSummit Stories
When you set off to build an app that will change the world, designing your system architecture to be reliable and scalable is important but the stark reality is that, for your MVP, you probably had a “need for speed” (of development). You didn’t know what all the axes were to scale your application, where your stress points would be, and what weird and wonderful ways your customers would use it down the road. In a world of zero-downtime services, landing the plane to figure it out is not an option. In his session at DevOps Summit, Andrew Miklas, CTO of PagerDuty, will share lessons learned ...
Founded in 1997, ActiveState is a global leader providing software application development and management solutions. The Company's products include: Stackato, a commercially supported Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) that harnesses open source technologies such as Cloud Foundry and Docker; dynamic language distributions ActivePerl, ActivePython and ActiveTcl; and developer tools such as the popular Komodo Edit and Komodo IDE. Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, ActiveState is trusted by customers and partners worldwide, across many industries including telecommunications, aerospace, software, fina...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ElasticBox is holding a Hackathon at DevOps Summit, November 6 from 12 pm -4 pm at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. You can enter as an individual or team of up to 10 developers. A New Star Is Born Every Month! All completed ElasticBoxes will then be sent to a judging panel - 12 winners will be featured on the ElasticBox website in 2015. All entrants will receive five full enterprise licenses for one year + ElasticBox headphones + ElasticBox T-shirt. Winners can also choose to interview with ElasticBox to join one of the fastest growi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calm.io has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of DevOps Summit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Calm.io is a cloud orchestration platform for AWS, vCenter, OpenStack, or bare metal, that runs your CL tools puppet, Chef, shell, git, Jenkins, nagios, and will soon support New Relic and Docker. It can run hosted, or on premise and provides VM automation / expiry, self-service portals, audit, approvals, and budgeting.
Blue Box has closed a $10 million Series B financing. The round was led by a strategic investor and included participation from prior investors including Voyager Capital and Founders Collective, as well as the Blue Box executive team. This round follows a $4.3 million Series A closed in December of 2012 and led by Voyager Capital. In May of this year, the company announced general availability of its private cloud as a service offering, Blue Box Cloud. Since that release, the company has demonstrated market validation through customer adoption, positive reviews from industry analysts and k...
The speed of product development has increased massively in the past 10 years. At the same time our formal secure development and SDL methodologies have fallen behind. This forces product developers to choose between rapid release times and security. In his session at DevOps Summit, Michael Murray, Director of Cyber Security Consulting and Assessment at GE Healthcare, will examine the problems and present some solutions for moving security in to the DevOps lifecycle to ensure that we get fast AND secure.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Zentera Systems, an industry visionary delivering hybrid-cloud management solutions, will exhibit at DevOps Summit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Zentera Systems, Inc.™ is a Silicon Valley based private company, providing a Cloud Federation Platform (CFP) built on a virtualization architecture with patent-pending technology to address virtual network, cloud firewall, data protection and transport automation within and across cloud domains. Zentera is solving the security ...
Software development, like manufacturing, is a craft that requires the application of creative approaches to solve problems given a wide range of constraints. However, while engineering design may be craftwork, the production of most designed objects relies on a standardized and automated manufacturing process. By contrast, much of moving an application from prototype to production and, indeed, maintaining the application through its lifecycle has often remained craftwork. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gordon Haff, senior cloud strategy marketing and evangelism manager at Red Hat, will di...
High performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems are ready for use – getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time – bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of Enterprise SQA? Does the SQA function become redundant?
In his keynote at DevOps Summit, David Tesar, Microsoft Technical Evangelist on Microsoft Azure and DevOps, will discuss how Microsoft teams who have made huge progress with a DevOps transformation effectively utilize operations staff and how challenges were overcome. Regardless of whether you are a startup or a mature enterprise, whether you are using PaaS, Micro Services, or Containerization, walk away with some practical tips where Ops can make a significant impact working with the development teams. Operational teams and functions are increasingly more important as the industry delivers so...
Cloudwick, the leading big data DevOps service and solution provider to the Fortune 1000, announced Big Loop, its multi-vendor operations platform. Cloudwick Big Loop creates greater collaboration between Fortune 1000 IT staff, developers and their database management systems as well as big data vendors. This allows customers to comprehensively manage and oversee their entire infrastructure, which leads to more successful production cluster operations, and scale-out. Cloudwick Big Loop supports DataStax, the leading distributed database technology company, and big data vendors -- Cloudera, Hor...

POMPTON LAKES, N.J., Oct. 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Kubisys announced today its namesake CID Platform, which automatically captures production environments and orchestrates the provisioning and deployment of replicas for development, testing and QA. The Kubisys CID Platform makes it easy for developers of mission critical multi-tier applications, such as Microsoft Dynamics AX, to follow DevOps practices for continuous delivery. The Kubisys platform delivers greater accuracy and agility than existing processes that rely on v...

The recent trends like cloud computing, social, mobile and Internet of Things are forcing enterprises to modernize in order to compete in the competitive globalized markets. However, enterprises are approaching newer technologies with a more silo-ed way, gaining only sub optimal benefits. The Modern Enterprise model is presented as a newer way to think of enterprise IT, which takes a more holistic approach to embracing modern technologies. This model makes use of Composable Enterprise framework put forward by Jonathan Murray of WMG.
This is part of the ever-expanding "Microservices and PaaS" blog series covering the rapidly evolving use of microservices in modern cloud software projects. Parts I and II introduced microservices concepts and discussed patterns and practices being spearheaded by microservices pioneers, notably Netflix, who were represented at a recent microservices meetup that was the genesis of this series. Part III presented a list of challenges and pitfalls that adopters of microservices face. This list is formidable and somewhat daunting; pointing out the significant changes in mindset, organizational s...
In their session at DevOps Summit, Stan Klimoff, CTO of Qubell, and Mike Becker, Senior Data Engineer for RingCentral, will share the lessons learned from implementing CI/CD pipeline on AWS for a customer analytics project powered by Cloudera Hadoop, HP Vertica and Tableau. Stan Klimoff is CTO of Qubell, the enterprise DevOps platform. Stan has more than a decade of experience building distributed systems for companies such as eBay, Cisco and Seagate. Qubell is helping enterprises to become more agile by providing a policy-driven platform for DevOps automation that provides self-service for d...
The impact of DevOps in the cloud era is potentially profound. DevOps helps businesses deliver new features continuously, reduce cycle time and achieve sustained innovation by applying agile and lean principles to assist all stakeholders in an organization that develop, operate, or benefit from the business’ lifecycle. In his session at DevOps Summit, Prashanth Chandrasekar, General Manager at Rackspace, will exam whether / how companies can work with external DevOps specialists to achieve "DevOps elasticity" and DevOps expertise at scale while internally focusing on writing code / developme...
I just recently wrote a blog about BOTs causing unwanted traffic on our servers. Right after I wrote this blog I was notified about yet another “interesting” and unusual load behavior on our download page which is used by customers to download latest product versions and updates. If you see such a load behavior you typically assume that you just released a new product version or maybe an update to our agents and many people are downloading it like crazy. Unfortunately that was not the case. The spike in traffic was caused by an implementation issue between our authentication service and our d...
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Gigaom Research has been named "Media Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4-6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Ashar Baig, Research Director, Cloud, at Gigaom Research, will also lead a Power Panel on the topic "Choosing the Right Cloud Option." Gigaom Research provides timely, in-depth analysis of emerging technologies for individual and corporate subscribers. Gigaom Research's network of 200+ independent analysts provides new content daily that bridges the gap between break...
Today, almost every company has a directory that needs to be managed. Spending valuable company time monitoring servers, provisioning and deprovisioning users, auditing, and assessing security concerns takes away from the core competency of the team – building product and delivering to customers quickly. DaaS takes on the burden of those tasks, and allows the team to focus on what they do best. In his session at DevOps Summit, Rajat Bahargava, Co-Founder, Chairman, and President & CEO of JumpCloud, will talk about what DaaS is, how it eases the pain caused by AD and LDAP, and why cloud-based d...