AppDynamics: Unified Monitoring for the Enterprise

July 13 2015


This article originally appeared on Intellyx blog

Rounding Out Platform with Synthetic Monitoring

A decade ago, the Application Performance Management (APM) market was a dusty corner of enterprise IT, focusing on keeping creaky enterprise apps up and running.

Today, the world has changed. Applications have changed. Enterprise IT is undergoing rapid reinvention. As a result, APM is now at the crux of the digital transformation trend. And squarely in the center of this firestorm is San Francisco-based AppDynamics.

Modern applications consist of a mélange of interconnected elements, from the front end to the cloud to the enterprise back end. This modern definition of the application as well as the full power of today’s big data analytics combine to underscore the true significance of AppDynamics’ application intelligence capabilities.

In 2015, AppDynamics is rounding out their Application Intelligence Platform with the addition of browser synthetic monitoring to their existing real-user monitoring (RUM) capabilities, enabling customers to have a complete suite of web performance testing capabilities.

Synthetic monitoring depends upon running test software that simulates real user behavior across the global Internet, while RUM leverages code running in users’ browsers and mobile apps to monitor actual user behavior. Synthetic monitoring, therefore, is particularly useful for performance testing as well as testing functionality that is not yet live.

AppDynamics is combining these various monitoring capabilities into a Unified Monitoring offering. They built this Unified Monitoring on a single platform – their Application Intelligence Platform – to monitor and manage end-user experience in the context of business transactions.

AppDynamics’ secret sauce is the end-to-end nature of this platform, as it traces the entire business transaction path from the end-user device through the application code and third-party API calls to servers, databases, and other infrastructure, as shown in the figure below. 

ADUMAppDynamics Unified Monitoring (Source: AppDynamics)

The Unified Monitoring solution leverages a common data platform, making it easy to install and manage, and provides consistent and shareable interfaces for all users. This approach replaces the miscellany of siloed, non-integrated, infrastructure-specific tools that characterize the monitoring solution for many enterprises.

Ongoing Value for AppDynamics Customers

AppDynamics ties the new synthetic monitoring tool to its existing application intelligence capability, offering detailed, data-driven performance insights and user experience analysis. The image below illustrates how the Unified Monitoring dashboard correlates RUM and synthetic monitoring data.

ADUM-screenshotAppDynamics Unified Monitoring (Source: AppDynamics)

Because of AppDynamics’ modern architecture and unified code base, its synthetic monitoring product appears simply as an additional tab in the unified product interface above. Customers simply have to turn it on to use it. They can then leverage all of the application intelligence analytics AppDynamics has already built into its platform to analyze both synthetic and real user data.

AppDynamics Unified Monitoring identifies and resolves web application performance and availability issues. In particular, the platform offers automatic dynamic baselining, which helps companies reduce false positives. Customers can schedule tests whenever they want, and run them as long as they want – and because the tests are running in the cloud, they pay for what they use.

The cloud-delivered visibility is a key strength of AppDynamics’ synthetic monitoring, because it offers worldwide, always-on coverage, flexible configuration, and rapid, on-demand deployment, thanks to remote synthetic agents running on Amazon AWSIBM SoftLayer, and numerous other cloud environments around the world via the ComputeNext cloud marketplace. (AppDynamics is also rolling out expanded performance management support for applications running on AWS in the current release of its platform. Stay tuned for a future BrainBlog post for further analysis of AppDynamics’ instrumentation of AWS.)

The Intellyx Take

Central benefits of the Unified Monitoring approach, beyond the cost savings benefit AppDynamics can pass along to customers, include the ability to combine synthetic and real user monitoring, for example, to enable customers to run A/B tests across the two monitoring approaches. There is also no practical upper limit on the number of synthetic users a customer can call for, due to the elastic nature of the cloud.

Furthermore, the fact that AppDynamics designed their platform from day one to support the addition of capabilities like synthetic monitoring is now providing dividends, both to their internal development teams as well as to customers.

In today’s complex, dynamic, digital world, enterprises no longer have the luxury of leveraging siloed tools. Digital business transactions are end-to-end, and thus monitoring must be seamless and end-to-end as well. AppDynamics has understood this principle from the start, and the benefits of their early design decisions are now paying off.

Intellyx advises companies on their digital transformation initiatives and helps vendors communicate their agility stories. AppDynamics and ComputeNext are Intellyx clients. None of the other organizations mentioned are Intellyx clients. Intellyx retains full editorial control over the content of this article.

Jason Bloomberg
Jason Bloomberg is the leading industry analyst and expert on achieving agile digital transformation by architecting business agility in the enterprise. He writes for Forbes, Wired, and his biweekly newsletter, the Cortex. As president of Intellyx, he advises business executives on their digital transformation initiatives, trains architecture teams on Agile Architecture, and helps technology vendors and service providers communicate their agility stories. His latest book is The Agile Architecture Revolution (Wiley, 2013). Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise. Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996). Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

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