Burst with Business Transactions

June 15 2011

I love Business Transactions. In fact, at MIT during my Ph.D. I had to learn how to be faster than a speeding business transaction to keep up and monitor them. It wasn’t easy! I mean, you try hopping across multiple tiers and into call stacks in milliseconds. It’s enough to give anyone a headache, especially when you get stuck in the occasional while loop. But I digress.

Business Transactions are becoming IT’s best friend. They help IT understand how the business runs across the infrastructure they manage. They specifically help Dev and Ops feel business impact so they can isolate and solve issues more efficiently when impact is bad, and evangelize their success more when impact is good. Not everything in IT needs to be about problems, but you wouldn’t know that from your typical helpdesk. After all, no one calls and Ops to thank them for an awesome release – it just doesn’t happen. Business Transactions can help IT promote what value they are adding to the business by reporting how business activity improved. Imagine if IT said to the Business, “We just increased the throughout of your ‘Submit Order’ business transaction by 33%, and we’ve seen more orders today than ever–instead of “we delivered 99.9% availability across our web farm.” We’d definitely see more high fives than knives in the workplace that’s for sure.

So we’ve established that Business Transactions can help IT resolve pain and evangelize their success. They can also play a pivotal role in virtualization and cloud computing. Before you shoot me down for mentioning the “C” word, let me finish. Capacity planning these days is done by looking at CPU metrics. However, what the business actually cares about is business activity, response time and throughput. The business doesn’t really dig CPU utilization, consumption or load factors. If the business is ticking along nicely, and revenues are heading in the right direction, life is generally good. Business activity therefore needs to become a key metric or “trigger” for provisioning (bursting) IT resource whether it’s in your data center, public, private or fancy hybrid clouds. Servers can run at 99% utilization all day if their load factor is sufficient and business activity isn’t impacted.

At AppDynamics we do more than just monitor your business transactions; we help you manage them so you can scale your apps as your business grows. We allow you to build simple workflow policies that automate the provisioning of IT resource when the business activity of your apps says so. AppDynamics revolves around monitoring business transactions, so at any point we know your business throughput, response time and activity. When your application reaches its scalability limits, the first thing to drop will be business transaction throughput as response times start to increase. It’s at this point you should start to spin up more VMs or resource in the cloud so your business activity and throughput is maintained. Provisioning IT resource based on Business activity and thresholds is a novel and powerful concept in a world today where Server and CPU metrics rule.

Here’s a quick walkthrough of how AppDynamics Pro can help you provision IT resource on the fly using your own business transactions:

First thing you need to do is define a policy, which triggers a workflow that will provision more IT resource for your application and Business Transactions. You can set policies at the application or business transaction level, on a variety of business metrics like throughput or response time. AppDynamics’ dynamic baselining can help you understand what’s normal vs. abnormal activity so you only trigger or provision when business activity deviates from the standard baseline. For example, take a look at the below screenshot highlighting our policy editor:

The next thing you need to do is then define a suitable workflow with steps and tasks that define how your infrastructure should scale:

For each step, the AppDynamics workflow wizard lets you define all the parameters needed to configure and spin up more VMs in your data-center or in your IaaS Cloud as shown below:

The last step is to then define your IaaS Cloud configuration so workflows can leverage your appropriate IaaS account, such as Amazon EC2 in the example shown below:

That was a quick summary of how using business transactions can help you manage and fully automate the provisioning of IT resources, so your apps and business can scale together. If you would like to learn more, here is a detailed intro of our Cloud Application management capabilities. You can also request a no hassle 30-day free trial of AppDynamics Pro.

App Man.

Sandy Mappic

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