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The Affordable Care Act and its many affiliated health exchanges have been online now for 11 days. To say this first week and a half has been challenging from an IT perspective is an understatement. Persistent “glitches” in these applications continue to prevent consumers from enrolling in health care programs in many states, especially those that rely on the federal site, healthcare.gov.
There are many reasons why these sites have had a rough start, as I outlined in my previous blog. It’s not surprising to anyone that these websites struggled to meet expectations, given the complexity of the applications underneath. And things are beginning to get better. But these glitches won’t go away for good until the engineers responsible for these applications get visibility into what’s going wrong.
That’s why AppDynamics has decided to offer its software to the federal government for free for three months. I believe that our application performance management software can help the engineers working tirelessly to improve the sites by revealing to them where the bottlenecks in their applications are. Even more importantly, I believe that the insight provided by AppDynamics will help the government to dramatically improve the performance of these applications for end users and ultimately allow people to enroll in the programs more easily.
No matter what your politics are, I think we can all agree that no one likes a slow web application. So we’d like to make life a little better for everyone involved by helping those apps get up to speed.Link to this post:
I’ve been looking forward to writing this blog for some time. Over the past two years I’ve worked with many enterprise customers to document the pain they solved using AppDynamics. A common question I always ask is “What was the actual business impact of that slowdown or outage?”, the result is that most customers guesstimate the revenue impact of slow performance, and are generally nervous about calculating such number.
They’re nervous because they might expose to the business how much revenue they are costing them each year thru incidents and outages. That’s definitely one way to look at things. However, if you flip this problem around IT could actually show the business how much revenue it created as a result of agile releases or initiatives such as SOA, Cloud and Virtualization.
Imagine if a new application feature suddenly caused a 5% increase in revenue? Wouldn’t it be cool for IT to share this fact with the business? With AppDynamics new real-time business metrics IT can do just that. Here’s how it works…
1. Monitoring Business Transactions
A business transaction is a type of user request in your application. AppDynamics can auto-discover these and monitor the response time of such requests, this allows IT to see the real end user experience and detect problems instantly as they happen. For example, below is a Checkout transaction from one of our customers that was requested 4,639 times, it had 53 errors and over 700 were classified as slow from their normal performance baseline.
2. Extracting Revenue Metrics from Business Transactions
Once you starting discovering and monitoring the performance of business transactions, the next step is to define which key business data you want to extract and report on. In AppDynamics you can define “Information Points” which are essentially custom metrics from extracting method parameters in application code. For example, in the below screenshot I created an information point called “Checkout Revenue” and specified the application code where AppDynamics should extract the revenue values, in this example it was the method signature:
I then created a custom metric called Checkout Revenue based on a SUM operation on the getter chain:
AppDynamics will now extract all the checkout revenue values from every transaction and make this available as a new metric “Checkout Revenue” which can be reported in real-time just like any other AppDynamics metric.
3. Correlating Application Response Times with Application Revenue:
Now that AppDynamics is monitoring the performance and revenue of your business transactions, its possible to correlate and report these metrics over-time so IT can understand their relationship. Take the below example, which shows the revenue per minute vs. the response time per minute of the application. As the screenshot shows, its pretty clear what the real business impact of this slowdown was to the business. Now imagine the reverse, imagine if the application got faster and that have a positive impact on revenue and transaction throughput? Wouldn’t it be great to track this information over-time so you can see the real impact of agile release cycles?
4. Creating Real-time Business Dashboards
Today nearly every monitoring dashboard is about application response times, or the health and resource of infrastructure. So when something glows red or flashes on a dashboard it denotes something very bad is happening. The reality is that most dashboards glow red everyday when performance and resource spikes. When is a problem really a problem? With real-time business metrics you can now mash and fuse business KPI’s with your application and infrastructure metrics. So when something turns red you can see the revenue impact of such issue.
5. Being Pro-Active with Business Alerts
Looking at monitoring dashboards periodically (like the above) is the first step to being pro-active with business impact. However, if you want to be truly pro-active you need to automate this entire process and let your monitoring solution do the alerting for you. The great thing with AppDynamics is that it can self-learn the normal value of every metric it collects, and create a dynamic baseline (threshold) over-time. This allows it to accurately detect deviations caused by abnormal activity. So just like we can detect deviations in application performance we can now do the same for your application revenue or order throughput. For example, one of our customers Orbitz said:
“If we’ve sold less than $1,000 in five minutes, there is probably a problem, even if it’s 2 o’clock in the morning. If our sales have flatlined, that’s a critical problem. I don’t know how to be any clearer.”
Geoff Kramer, Manager of Quality Engineering at Orbitz Worldwide
The ability to alert on business impact vs. application or infrastructure performance can be a game changer. It helps IT truly align with the priorities and needs of the business, allowing them to speak the same language and manage the bottom line.
You can get started today with real-time business metrics by signing up and taking a free trial of AppDynamics Pro here.
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Today marked the launch of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), which included the rollout of online health insurance exchanges in every US state and Washington, DC. Ahead of the launch, several states reported difficulties getting these new websites to function properly, and many experts and pundits anticipated slow performance as the whole system went live today. So why are these sites proving so problematic? Well, we can’t know for sure, but here are a few educated guesses (based on quite a bit of experience dealing with slow and troubled web applications):
- Integrating with existing systems is difficult. Each state has their own healthcare systems already in place that rely on a whole host of different technologies ranging from Java to COBOL. Interfacing with these existing applications can be difficult, especially if they’re slow or unresponsive.
- There wasn’t enough time to test. Testing an application really well requires a lot of time and resources to complete. With a hard deadline of October 1 these applications might not be completely ready for the big leagues.
- They’re dealing with a lot of load… all at once. The uninsured as well as many curious Americans swarmed these exchanges en masse as soon as they became available this morning. If these applications receive more load than anticipated, the applications could simply crash.
- There are thousands of corner cases to account for. Families’ health care eligibility scenarios could vary in literally thousands of ways, and the teams responsible for designing the application had to account for and test all of those different situations. When the permutations climb up into the hundreds of thousands it becomes extremely difficult not only to account for these situations in the application code but also to simulate these situations in a test environment.
- Federal and state governments don’t have experience launching web apps on this scale. Tech companies and eCommerce giants like Twitter, Facebook or Amazon have been building applications with massive scale for years, so when it comes time to build and deploy a new one they have experienced people to do it and tried and true processes to fall back on. Most state governments don’t have the same experience, which makes it more difficult for them to “get it right.” (And, we should mention, even the tech and eCommerce companies experience slowdowns and outages pretty regularly).
- Checking for eligibility is a lot more complicated than buying an airplane ticket. Consumers may expect all websites to respond as quickly as their favorite travel site, but as Richard Onizuka, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, commented, “Filling out an application for insurance is a much longer process than just buying a ticket to San Francisco on Orbitz.”
So if you’re experiencing poor web performance from your state’s health insurance exchange, take a deep breath and try again later. There are lot of reasons for the site to be slow, especially on their first day out of the gate. So be patient.
According to a report from Kleiner Perkins, mobile applications now account for 15% of all Internet traffic, with 1.5 billion users worldwide. This means that the performance of mobile applications is more important than ever both to the end users and to the companies that depend on them for their revenue. So we are very excited to announce that AppDynamics now offers end user monitoring for mobile applications! With AppDynamics for Mobile you can now get insights into the performance of your native mobile apps for iOS and Android, allowing you to ensure that your mobile users have a great experience from the moment they open the app.
The complexity of modern applications makes end-to-end monitoring essential for all production applications, whether they’re run in a browser or on a smartphone. A typical architecture for a mobile/web application consists of multiple services:
With AppDynamics for Mobile, you get complete visibility into the end user experience across mobile and web with the end user experience dashboard:
See the performance of API calls from your mobile application to the server side:
Get a better understanding of your audience and where to focus development efforts with analytics on device, carriers, OS, and application versions:
Want to start monitoring your iOS or Android application today? Sign up for our beta program to get the full power of AppDynamics for your mobile apps.