Gartner publishes 2011 Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring

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On Tuesday, Gartner announced this year’s Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring (APM).   I’ll make a few observations from reading the MQ and then suggest 3 additional criteria that APM buyers should consider to make informed buying decisions.

APM demand is strongThe research report started with an analysis of the APM market growth at 15% year-over-year and $2 billion in total market spend.  These facts reflect what we see every day – the market for APM is very strong and benefits from the high growth in web-driven commerce.  Web apps just can’t be slow.

One key APM growth driver is that modern applications have become more difficult to monitor – with more moving parts and a higher rate of change. Gartner summarizes this nicely in their market overview:

“Unfortunately, at just the moment when executives have become keen about imposing an application-centric view of the world on IT operations, applications have become far more difficult to monitor; in general, architectures have become more modular, redundant, distributed and dynamic, often laying down the particular twists and turns that a code execution path could take at the latest possible moment.”

What Gartner is basically saying is that application code is changing more frequently and has become more distributed across legacy IT infrastructure. For IT operations to manage this complexity has becomes a massive challenge and renders traditional system/server monitoring tools insufficient.  No longer is the performance of a server a reasonable proxy for the application’s health.

In response to this trend toward more distributed and agile application environments, Gartner has defined APM to include the following five dimensions:

1. End User Experience Monitoring

2. Runtime application architecture discovery, modeling and display

3. User-defined transaction profiling

4. Component deep dive monitoring in application context

5. Analytics

For any organization looking to quickly troubleshoot and resolve application problems, the discovery, profiling and monitoring of code execution paths across the app infrastructure becomes a “must have”. And application complexity shows no sign of a slowdown. If you throw Cloud Computing and Big Data into the equation, your code execution paths start to touch new more agile, distributed and elastic technologies.

APM Analytics makes Root Cause Analysis easierTo deal with this complexity, Gartner put an even greater emphasis this year on Analytics. Thus, concluding that APM needs to become smarter. This is spot on. I’m really pleased to see Analytics as a key dimension for APM. The ability for a solution to be intelligent in how it collects, processes and presents data to its end users so they can be faster at solving problems. Organizations can only manage application performance with good actionable information to support their decision-making processes. Data collection in APM has never been a problem, in fact many vendors kick ass at this to the point where they actually collect too much data. A key problem in the past with APM, is the legacy tools put too much of the work on the APM user to find a needle in the haystack. The role of analytics is to make the APM user uber-productive in finding the root cause of problems.  The APM tools need to shine a spotlight on the bottlenecks, code and SQL issues.

We like these 5 dimensions that Gartner has defined as we believe they are the key ingredients required to achieve the two objectives that most APM buyers have:

1)    To have better application visibility than ever before

2)    To diagnose and resolve application problems faster than ever before

However, most people we speak with wouldn’t be happy if implementing those 5 dimensions cost them $500,000, consumed six months with arduous deployment tasks, and they still weren’t able to fix app problems fast enough. Thus, we’ll add a few criteria to their list that we often hear from APM buyers.

1)    Low APM Complexity

2)    Fast to Deploy & Easy to Use

3)    Low Cost of Ownership

Let’s briefly explore each one:

1)    Low APM Complexity – With applications getting more complex, the last thing that IT Operations wants is an APM solution that makes monitoring their mission-critical application more complex.  Our buyers typically conclude that all five dimensions should be delivered in an all-in-one solution.  On the contrary, some of the vendors profiled in this MQ require more than 5 products to meet Gartner’s five dimensions.  That number of products increase the cost and complexity on IT Ops teams. Here is a quick count how IBM, OpNet, HP, Compuware and CA stack up:

2)    Fast to Deploy & Easy to Use – Gone are the days of 3-6 month project plans to implement a new IT tool.  The same is true for APM.  If you could be fully-deployed in less than an hour and better at troubleshooting and root-cause analysis in a single day – wouldn’t you want that?  Today’s APM buyers have a lot of projects competing for their time and APM isn’t their only responsibility.  Thus, buyers should give special consideration/weight to APM solutions with built-in intelligence that allows them to self-deploy and deliver value in hours.  If the vendor solution requires you to sit for hours and manually configure instrumentation or data collection, you can expect that you’ll have to re-do that work every time your application code or environment changes.  Is that how you want to spend your time?  Don’t believe us?  Stop reading this blog and download our free java performance troubleshooting tool in 10 minutes. Naturally, if you had the choice between installing one product versus installing & integrating 5-10 disparate products to resolve app problems – you’d probably choose 1, right?  We think so.

3)    Low Cost of Ownership – APM doesn’t need to cost what it cost 10 years ago and you shouldn’t get surprised by hidden costs.  Just like shopping for a new car, you’d be wise to know what other car owners have spent over 3-5 years of ownership. Our customer, Edmunds.com makes this easy with their “True Cost to Own” service. You may also be surprised to learn that more affordable APM solutions may also deliver more value.  Why? Because the new solutions on the market don’t require an army of expensive sales people to sell them, require less management hardware, require less ongoing maintenance, and even offer cost-effective SaaS options.  Check out this detailed analysis on the Real Cost of APM.

Founded in 2008, AppDynamics is experiencing phenomenal customer adoption and growing 400% this year. Organizations like Netflix, Priceline, Taleo, Edmunds.com, Betfair, and GeorgiaTech are using AppDynamics to manage their mission-critical web applications. We look forward to participating in the Gartner Magic Quadrant process next year for the very first time.

Innovation is core to what we do at AppDynamics and you’ll continue to see lots of industry firsts from us. We’ve already delivered the first free APM product  which attracted over 50,000 users in its first 15 months. If you’d like to try the Pro version of our Java or .NET solution, click here.

We’re laser focused in simplifying the way organizations manage application performance and making APM affordable at the same time.

Steve

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