The answer for government applications migrating to the cloud: visibility

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Recently, I’ve had several conversations with US Federal Government Agencies about monitoring applications moving to FedRAMP (The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program) data centers. Because of the Government’s Cloud First policy, which mandates that agencies take full advantage of cloud computing benefits, agencies are increasingly forced to move application outside of their own data centers. With less control on the infrastructure, the new focus is now on the performance and availability of their applications running in the cloud. Agencies want an assurance their applications are running at the same level of performance (or better) once they make the move. This is where I believe an APM solution like AppDynamics is a perfect fit to mitigate risk by providing agencies 100% visibility into their application performance.

With cloud environments, I’ve found traditional approaches for monitoring simply don’t work. This is because the agencies have limited access to the underlying IT infrastructure in the cloud. Federal agencies need the help of companies such as AppDynamics to provide them visibility into application performance from the end user down to the infrastructure to truly understand the health of their critical applications.

Before the cloud, when agencies ran applications on premise, they had the physical access to the underlying IT infrastructure. Which meant they could deploy element-monitoring tools and gain access to the network to try to infer the health of the applications. At AppDynamics, we take a modern approach to APM by monitoring performance from the top down through the concept of Business Transactions. The Business Transaction is the mechanism by which AppDynamics orders and aligns load traffic (response time, throughput, and so on) with the business perspective (For example, Login, Search, etc.).

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I’ve found AppDynamics is flexible to help customers monitor applications both on premises and in cloud environments. AppDynamics was designed from the beginning to be cloud portable by working within the constraints of cloud environments. The three main reasons why I believe AppDynamics is perfect for federal agencies to monitor critical cloud applications are:

Firstly, AppDynamics is an all software agent-based solution that doesn’t require a high network bandwidth connection. The agents can report across the Internet using a one-way HTTP(s) connection back to the controller software. This means agency applications that span multiple FedRAMP clouds can be can be monitored with a single AppDynamics controller. The controller has the intelligence to stitch the transactions that flow between clouds into one view (think – highly layered Service Oriented Architectures). The self-discovering flow map and single pane of glass view is vital to obtain the necessary visibility of your application.Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 3.50.39 PM (2)

Secondly, AppDynamics doesn’t require privileged network access to components such as a SPAN port or a network TAP. The traditional approach for End User Monitoring was to receive a copy of the traffic to and from the application and decrypt the packets to make sense of the end user experience. This approach fails in cloud environments since the cloud providers typically will not provide access to the underlying physical infrastructure. AppDynamics captures end user experience in a cloud-friendly way through JavaScript on the browser. Through this approach, AppDynamics not only captures and correlates all end user activity with the application code execution, but also measures the page render time in the end user’s browser.

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By not requiring privileged network access and high bandwidth management network, AppDynamics can follow the workload as applications are migrated to the cloud. Agencies will have visibility into the before and after state of their applications performance.

Thirdly, AppDynamics can help Agencies with scaling their applications automatically by utilizing our cloud auto-scaling capabilities. Cloud auto-scaling decisions are typically made based on infrastructure metrics such as CPU Utilization. However, I believe the better and more accurate way to auto-scale in Cloud environments is to make decisions based on application metrics such as requests per minute. For more information about cloud auto-scaling please read: http://www.appdynamics.com/blog/cloud/cloud-auto-scaling-using-appdynamics/

Other reasons why AppDynamics is a perfect solution for modern applications moving to the cloud are:

  1. It’s easy to deploy
  2. It requires minimal configurations (Instrumentation works out of the box)
  3. It requires minimal care and feeding on an ongoing basis (Supports rapid change with Agile development)
  4. It has a built-in Dynamic Baselining Engine to proactively alert teams of performance issues

For agencies to be successful running applications in the cloud they need end-to-end visibility into their application performance. With AppDynamics, federal agencies can finally migrate to the cloud without impacting or worrying about their applications. As all critical software applications become more complex, the visibility AppDynamics provides isn’t just a luxury feature, it’s a necessity.

Take five minutes to get complete visibility into the performance of your cloud applications with AppDynamics today.

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