Click here to close now.


@DevOpsSummit Authors: Liz McMillan, SmartBear Blog, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Linux Containers

@DevOpsSummit: Blog Post

Choosing the #APM System that Is Right for You | @DevOpsSummit [#DevOps]

A lot of the arguing in the APM space is about the fundamental approach to monitoring application transactions

In my role as technology evangelist I spend a lot of time helping organizations, big and small, make their IT systems better, faster and more resilient to faults in order to support their business operations and objectives. I always find it frustrating to "argue" with our competitors about what the best solution is. I honestly think that many APM tools on the market do a good job - each with advantages and disadvantages in certain use cases. There is no "one size fits all" - there is just a "this tool fits best for your APM Maturity Level" (not saying the others wouldn't do a good job).

A lot of the arguing in the APM space is about the fundamental approach to monitoring application transactions: monitor and capture ALL details vs. monitor and capture relevant details. Along with that come topics like "overhead impact", "scalability" and "data hording vs smart analytics".

Ultimately, you want to pick the right tool to solve your problems. As you have multiple tools to choose from let me - in my role as technology evangelist - highlight some of the use cases that our customers solve. As a technologist and a blogger, what I really care about is that the right technology is applied to the right problem. As such, I feel compelled to share what I have learned working with customers in the trenches. Hopefully, this will help you understand the technology and what problem it can solve in real life problems, and cut through the propaganda. Let me start with a few use cases today and follow up with some more in follow up blog posts.

Use Cases from Steven - A Performance Engineer
The first use cases are picked from Steven - whom I reached out to after I read his question on our APM Community Forum. His company decided to move from a competitor to our APM solution and I wondered why. In an email, he highlighted that he had some initial success with the tool, and had been able to solve a couple of low hanging problems. When they decided to start taking a strategic Continuous Delivery approach to software delivery, they realized that the current tool had certain shortcomings slowing their attempts to practice DevOps.

They identified the following key problems they need to solve and what they really required from an APM solution in order to get to where they are heading:

How a user got to a problem, and not just seeing the problem itself

  • Every transaction, with all details they need, out-of-the-box
  • Web request/response bytes, SQL bind values, exception details for every transaction

Number of transactions executed per user and tenant used for business and cost reporting

  • Capture custom business context data for every transaction
  • Business transactions based on "buried" context data as not every detail is in the URL

Eliminate homegrown tools which are costly to maintain

  • Provide application as well as system and infrastructure monitoring
  • Integrate with other tools such as JMeter, LoadRunner, Jenkins or HP Open View

Eliminate the need to make people look at other tools and data

  • Foster collaboration across Architect, Dev, Test & Ops by using same data set
  • Data must be shareable with a single click

Ability to extend to custom frameworks, systems and protocols

  • Bring in custom metrics from external tools via Java Plugin infrastructure
  • Follow transactions across any custom protocol or technologies outside Java & .NET

Full Automation to support Continuous Delivery

  • Use Metrics provided by APM for every build artifact along the deployment pipeline to act as quality gateway
  • Inform APM about new deployments to prevent false alerting

Replace traditional application logging

  • Eliminated log files which saves I/O and storage
  • Get the log messages captured in context of a transaction and the context of the user that triggered that log message

One solution for everything

  • Not just performance monitoring but also business reporting as well as deep dive diagnostics

Active community forum

  • Get answers right away
  • Leverage extensions already provided by the community such as plugins for Jenkins, PagerDuty, ...

Let me give you some examples for Steven's use case so that you can better decide on whether that is relevant for you as well:

Every Transaction with All Details
dynaTrace was built from the ground up to support the full software lifecycle. We as Compuware APM/dynaTrace understood that we needed a technology that captures every transaction with all details for root cause diagnostics as well as proper business monitoring without falling into a sampling mode where you lose critical information for both business and root cause diagnostics. Most of our customers claim they see little to acceptable overhead in production yet capturing 100% transactions including method arguments, SQL Statements, Log Messages or Exceptions. The magic word in our case is our PurePath (see the YouTube video) & PureStack Technology which allows dynaTrace to do exactly that. One of the several visualization of the PurePath is the Transaction Flow which is a great way to understand how your transactions flow through the system - where your hotspots are (3rd party impact, custom code issues or impact of Garbage Collection) and where your architectural issues (e.g: too many web service calls, too many SQL executions):

Transaction Flow: One View that tells it all to Devs, Architects and Operations Teams

What if you don't capture all transactions but be "smart" and focus on capturing the problematic ones? While this approach allows you to find and fix the easy-to-find problems that can be analyzed by analyzing those transactions that fail or violate the average response-time based baseline, it falls short when it comes to problems that are caused by transactions that are not "outside the norm". One example here is a database deadlock we recently analyzed for a customer. The "smart" approach only highlighted the transaction that hit the deadlock but no information was captured for those transactions actually causing the deadlock with their data manipulations. Being able to see which transactions executed which UPDATE statements at the time leading up to the deadlock is required to solve this problem.

As companies - such as Steven's - are getting into a maturity level where they grow out of "smart" average response time-based analysis it is important to have the ability to look at everything and not just the average problem. As a follow up read the blog Why Averages Suck and Percentiles are great!

Capture Custom Business Context
What is Custom Business Context? The actual business function executed such as a "Create Claim", "Transfer Money," or the name of the user or tenant of your system. Why is this not as easy as it sounds? Because many applications just don't show the business function as part of the URL or provide the user name in a cookie. A great example was given in a webinar by NJM Insurance (New Jersey Manufacturing Insurance). They were using a third-party claim management software which was designed to "hide" everything behind a URL. In their case they needed dynaTrace to analyze every single transaction and pick a method argument invoked in the business layer of their app to figure out which function in their system was actually executed. On top of that they also needed to know the user that executed that function because they needed to understand which insurance office and group of employees created how many claims as they needed this for their quarterly business reports. The following shows business reporting based on the user role where the user role gets captured from a method argument within the business logic of the application:

Business Reporting requires Business Context data for every Transaction

This was only possible because dynaTrace allows you to selectively capture business context in the context of every single executed transaction. Along the PurePath you will then see things like method arguments, return values, bind values, session variables, HTTP parameters or cookie values. All to be later used for your business reporting or targeted root cause diagnostics. Here is a follow up blog post that explains business transactions in more technical detail.

For more APM Buyer's tips, and for further insight, click here for the full article.

More Stories By Andreas Grabner

Andreas Grabner has been helping companies improve their application performance for 15+ years. He is a regular contributor within Web Performance and DevOps communities and a prolific speaker at user groups and conferences around the world. Reach him at @grabnerandi

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@DevOpsSummit Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Spirent Communications, the leader in testing navigation and positioning systems, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Spirent Communications enables innovations in communications technologies that help connect people. Whether it is service provider, data centers, enterprise IT networks, mobile communications, connected vehicles or the Internet of Things, Spirent solutions are working behind the scenes to help the world communicate and co...
The APN DevOps Competency highlights APN Partners who demonstrate deep capabilities delivering continuous integration, continuous delivery, and configuration management. They help customers transform their business to be more efficient and agile by leveraging the AWS platform and DevOps principles.
Saviynt Inc. has announced the availability of the next release of Saviynt for AWS. The comprehensive security and compliance solution provides a Command-and-Control center to gain visibility into risks in AWS, enforce real-time protection of critical workloads as well as data and automate access life-cycle governance. The solution enables AWS customers to meet their compliance mandates such as ITAR, SOX, PCI, etc. by including an extensive risk and controls library to detect known threats and behavior and usage analytics to identify unknown risks.
DevOps and Continuous Delivery software provider XebiaLabs has announced it has been selected to join the Amazon Web Services (AWS) DevOps Competency partner program. The program is designed to highlight software vendors like XebiaLabs who have demonstrated technical expertise and proven customer success in DevOps and specialized solution areas like Continuous Delivery. DevOps Competency Partners provide solutions to, or have deep experience working with AWS users and other businesses to help them implement continuous integration and delivery development patterns or to help them automate infr...
Between the compelling mockups and specs produced by analysts, and resulting applications built by developers, there exists a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral, and applications disappoint. Methodologies like Agile attempt to address this with intensified communication, with partial success but many limitations. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a revolutionary model enabled by new technologies. Learn how business and development users can collaborate – each using tools appropriate to their expertise – to buil...
DevOps is gaining traction in the federal government – and for good reasons. Heightened user expectations are pushing IT organizations to accelerate application development and support more innovation. At the same time, budgetary constraints require that agencies find ways to decrease the cost of developing, maintaining, and running applications. IT now faces a daunting task: do more and react faster than ever before – all with fewer resources.
JFrog has announced a powerful technology for managing software packages from development into production. JFrog Artifactory 4 represents disruptive innovation in its groundbreaking ability to help development and DevOps teams deliver increasingly complex solutions on ever-shorter deadlines across multiple platforms JFrog Artifactory 4 establishes a new category – the Universal Artifact Repository – that reflects JFrog's unique commitment to enable faster software releases through the first platform-agnostic approach to storing and sharing binary artifacts.
For all the buzz-words and high-flying markets out there today, the truth of the matter is that at this point in time, IT is driven by speed. How fast can I spin up an image? How fast can I integrate the changes in my app? How fast can I test prior to deployment? How fast can I go from nothing deployed to functional app? The list goes on and on. There are a lot of ancillary questions, but I would argue that at this point in time they are just that – ancillary. There are also a good number of catch-phrases that hide the reality of speed fueling everything.
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Mobile, social, Big Data, and cloud have fundamentally changed the way we live. “Anytime, anywhere” access to data and information is no longer a luxury; it’s a requirement, in both our personal and professional lives. For IT organizations, this means pressure has never been greater to deliver meaningful services to the business and customers.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
For almost two decades, businesses have discovered great opportunities to engage with customers and even expand revenue through digital systems, including web and mobile applications. Yet, even now, the conversation between the business and the technologists that deliver these systems is strained, in large part due to misaligned objectives. In his session at DevOps Summit, James Urquhart, Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics at SOASTA, Inc., will discuss how measuring user outcomes – including how the performance, flow and content of your digital systems affects those outcomes – ca...
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ability. Many are unable to effectively engage and inspire, creating forward momentum in the direction...
Clutch is now a Docker Authorized Consulting Partner, having completed Docker's certification course on the "Docker Accelerator for CI Engagements." More info about Clutch's success implementing Docker can be found here. Docker is an open platform for developers and system administrators to build, ship and run distributed applications. With Docker, IT organizations shrink application delivery from months to minutes, frictionlessly move workloads between data centers and the cloud and achieve 20x greater efficiency in their use of computing resources. Inspired by an active community and trans...
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery cycles and a poor customer experience.
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
The modern software development landscape consists of best practices and tools that allow teams to deliver software in a near-continuous manner. By adopting a culture of automation, measurement and sharing, the time to ship code has been greatly reduced, allowing for shorter release cycles and quicker feedback from customers and users. Still, with all of these tools and methods, how can teams stay on top of what is taking place across their infrastructure and codebase? Hopping between services and command line interfaces creates context-switching that slows productivity, efficiency, and may le...
The cloud has reached mainstream IT. Those 18.7 million data centers out there (server closets to corporate data centers to colocation deployments) are moving to the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Achim Weiss, CEO & co-founder of ProfitBricks, will share how two companies – one in the U.S. and one in Germany – are achieving their goals with cloud infrastructure. More than a case study, he will share the details of how they prioritized their cloud computing infrastructure deployments and the details they’ve learned. From performance to network configurations, they've got interesting...
Decisions about budgets and resources are often made without IT even having a seat at the table. As technologist we understand the value of DevOps - but do your business counterparts? If they don't, your DevOps initiatives could lose funding before they start. In her session at DevOps Summit, Jeanne Morain, Strategist / Author at iSpeak Cloud, LLC, will provide insights on how to bridge the gap between business and technology leaders. Attendees will learn prescriptive guidance on balancing workloads, critical communication processes and considerations for building out a solid return-on-inves...
Today, we are in the middle of a paradigm shift as we move from managing applications on VMs and containers to embracing everything that the cloud and XaaS (Everything as a Service) has to offer. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Kevin Hoffman, Advisory Solutions Architect at Pivotal Cloud Foundry, will provide an overview of 12-factor apps and migrating enterprise apps to the cloud. Kevin Hoffman is an Advisory Solutions Architect for Pivotal Cloud Foundry, and has spent the past 20 years building enterprise and mobile software for small businesses, massive enterprises, and everything in ...
While testing is often ignored when it comes to DevOps - it could be the most important aspect of achieving true DevOps success. Without rethinking automated testing from the ground-up, the entire DevOps productivity gain cannot be realized. Large tech companies build their own rapid test automation that runs in minutes across functional, performance, security and other tests. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kevin Surace, CEO of Appvance, will discuss how we learn from these real-world successes and achieve a 95% time reduction in creating and running automated unified tests. Otherwise ent...
DevOps has often been described in terms of CAMS: Culture, Automation, Measuring, Sharing. While we’ve seen a lot of focus on the “A” and even on the “M”, there are very few examples of why the “C" is equally important in the DevOps equation. In her session at @DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, of F5 Networks, will explore HTTP/1 and HTTP/2 along with Microservices to illustrate why a collaborative culture between Dev, Ops, and the Network is critical to ensuring success.
SYS-CON Events announced today that has been named a "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. provides open-source software ELK turned into a log analytics platform that is simple, infinitely- scalable, highly available, and secure.
DevOps delivers remarkable results. But does it help all of IT? Can traditional ‘mode 1’ IT benefit as much as innovative ‘mode 2’? How about the rest of your business? Or have you just shifted your bottleneck? And if so, what can you do about it? Improving dev and ops is necessary, but not sufficient. It often just shifts the burden sideways (e.g., to PMs, SQA, InfoSec, DBAs, NOC, etc.), upstream (to the PMO, Controller, Business Liaison, etc.), or downstream (to TechPubs, Service Desk, Training, etc.).