Deploying APM in the Enterprise Part 8: Stay Thirsty (and Relevant) My Friends

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Welcome back to my series on Stay RelevantDeploying APM in the Enterprise. In Part 7: Dashboards and Reports – Get the Business on Your Side we discussed ways of using data collected by your monitoring tools to benefit the business and provide a holistic view to the people who need it. When implemented properly, dashboards and reports can act as a value multiplier to your monitoring investments.

This week we finally arrive at the end of my series. If you’ve implemented the suggestions in my other posts you’re probably an up and coming rockstar in your organization. Now that you’re on the right track you need to avoid becoming a one hit wonder. This post is dedicated to all the one hit wonders out there, and will act as your guide on how to avoid this scenario. So in honor of the one hit wonders of past years and decades I’ll be scattering some song names and artists throughout this post as a reminder of their fleeting fame and glory.

Build and Lead a Center of Excellence (CoE)

The Reason – Hoobastank

“And the reason is you…” – When you’re at the top of your game it can be difficult to figure out what you want to do next. In most organizations you wont maintain your rockstar status for long without diversifying your skill set and securing your next big win. The “What have you done for me lately?” mentality is alive and well in the corporate world. Give the masses what they want (your next hit) by starting a CoE, inviting performance geeks from all across your organization, and exchanging information. You’ll probably hear about all kinds of performance nightmares and have the opportunity to help solve them with your tools and expertise. You will also probably get exposed to cool projects that other performance geeks are working on and get a chance to improve your skills. The CoE is a powerful tool for any organization.

Architect the Future

Epic – Faith No More

The Future“You want it all but you can’t have it…” unless you are the Architect deciding the direction of tooling for your organization. Larger organizations will have architecture review boards or something similar that make decisions on the technology direction for the company. Attend these meetings and find out what it takes to become a board member.

“If you don’t have a seat at the table you’re probably on the menu.” – I have no idea who to attribute this quote to but it’s right on the money. Go get your seat at the table!!!

The Trusted Advisor

You’re a Friend of Mine – Clarence Clemons

“Oh you can depend on me, over and over…” – Being a trusted adviser means that you have built a strong relationship with someone and they value your viewpoint. If you are responsible for solving a problem for the business make sure you take time to nurture that relationship through conversation, email, chat, etc… Be sure to check in occasionally and ask is there is anything that you can help resolve. The more problems you help out with, the stronger your trusted advisor status becomes, the brighter your rockstar shines. It’s a cycle you want to be caught up in. This is a role that adds tremendous value to your organization and to your personal career so make sure you give this the attention it deserves.

Customer/Vendor Relationship

I Can Help – Billy Swan

“When I go to sleep at night, you’re always a part of my dream” – I’ve had my work invade my dreams too many times. It’s definitely a sign that you are immersed in what you are doing and is scary and pretty cool at the same time.

It’s really important that you have a running dialogue with your software vendor after you make a purchase. You need to make sure your vendor keeps you updated on new product features, best practices, and their product roadmap. It’s not all up to the vendor though, you need to be engaged at multiple levels described below…

Enhancement Requests

You will find that there are features and functionality that could really help in certain circumstances but that are missing from the product you purchased. This happens with every product if you use it enough and you need to keep a list of these enhancements along with use cases to justify and clarify each item. It also helps the vendor tremendously if you can keep the list prioritized and assign a high/medium/low importance to each line item. This benefits both you and the vendor, a true win-win.

Support Calls

RelationshipAnother certainty when using a software product long enough is that you will need some support when the product doesn’t work as expected. Be sure to stay involved with support cases so that you know how responsive the vendor is as well as what problems have already been encountered so you will recognize them if they crop up again in the future. This level of engagement can also help you avoid issues because you already know the scenario that causes a certain problem.

It’s also vitally important to make sure your vendor is responding in a timely manner. Problems that drag on for too long with too little communication create a bad overall impression and can impact the business. This is bad for you, your business, and the vendor. If you notice a pattern of problems that take too long to resolve or just too many issues be sure to address it with your vendor as soon as possible.

User Conferences

Most vendors will have at least annual users conferences. These conferences are a great time to network with other users and learn how they are solving problems, what kind of issues they experience, and understand their best practices for deploying and using the product. It’s also a time where you can learn about upcoming product features and even get to meet the folks who are directly responsible for your tool. There is a wealth of very specific knowledge at users conferences for you to take advantage of so make sure to get approval and reserve your spot early.

Tracking Your Success

The Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear Shades – Timbuk 3

(No quote needed!) – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Document your successes, ALL of them, and translate each success into business value. By doing this you get the following benefits:

  • Documentation of your value to the business for raises, bonuses, reviews, etc…
  • Track record of past success used in business justification for new products.
  • Business justification when it comes time to renew your existing product licenses.
  • Credibility in presentations when you are meeting with new organizations or convincing application owners to implement your solutions.

Becoming a rockstar in your organization is a great accomplishment that can be easily tarnished by becoming a one hit wonder. Don’t let it happen to you. Become and expert and constantly look for opportunities to share and improve upon your knowledge and skills.

If you’ve read all of the posts in this series you probably deserve some sort of prize (as if your growing rockstar status isn’t enough). Feel free to tweet to me (@HirschOnAPM) to let me know of this gargantuan accomplishment and I’ll see if I can hook you up with some AppDynamics swag as a prize. Now go forth and be a rockstar!

Jim Hirschauer

Jim Hirschauer

Jim Hirschauer is a Technology Evangelist for AppDynamics. He has an extensive background working in highly available, business critical, large enterprise IT operations environments. Jim has been interested in application performance testing and monitoring since he was a Systems Administrator working in a retail bank. His passion for performance analysis led him down a path where he would design, implement and manage the cloud computing monitoring architecture for a top 10 investment bank. During his tenure at the investment bank, Jim created new processes and procedures that increased overall code release quality and dramatically improved end user experience.