Welcome!

DevOps Journal Authors: Bernard Golden, Sandi Mappic, Lori MacVittie, Trevor Parsons, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: DevOps Journal, Java, .NET, Linux

DevOps Journal: 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 claimCenter.do 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 more than a decade of experience as an architect and developer in the Java and .NET space. In his current role, Andi works as a Technology Strategist for Compuware and leads the Compuware APM Center of Excellence team. In his role he influences the Compuware APM product strategy and works closely with customers in implementing performance management solutions across the entire application lifecycle. He is a frequent speaker at technology conferences on performance and architecture-related topics, and regularly authors articles offering business and technology advice for Compuware’s About:Performance blog.

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
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...