Recently, I was able to meet and chat briefly with Kalpesh Vadera, Computer Services Manager for Prospects — an online seller of higher education study guides. Since Prospects is ultimately an e-commerce site, their performance is crucial to their bottom line. Any outages or stalls will hurt incoming revenue. Therefore, they put a tremendous amount of value on uptime and optimal performance. As their business grew, their application environment became more distributed and complex, furthering the need for an enterprise-grade application performance management (APM) solution. Enter AppDynamics.
Hannah Current: Please briefly explain your role at Prospects
Kalpesh Vadera: Graduate Prospects is the UK’s leading provider of information, advice and opportunities to all students and graduates. Our graduate employment and postgraduate study guides are available online, digitally and in printed form at all UK and Ireland career services, careers fairs and other campus outlets across the UK.
I am the Computer Services Manager and my/teams role is to look after the infrastructure to enable the efficient delivery of all our services for both internal and external clients.
HC: What challenges did you suffer before using APM? How did you troubleshoot those issues and what was frustrating before using an APM tool?
KV: We had an issue several years ago with a part of the website running particularly slow and found it extremely difficult to get to the root of the problem. We are Java based and with so many services running and dependent on each other it was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. We found the issue eventually (an out of date class file) but it was painful getting there.
HC: What was your APM selection process like?
KV: A team was created to include the IT Director, Senior Architects, Development Manager and myself to list down requirements. A checklist was made of essential requirements, which we then reviewed several options and shortlisted a few to take a more in-depth look at. After several conference calls to prioritize our needs, and a look at AppDynamics in action via a temporary license (so that we could actually see it with real production info), it ticked all the boxes for us.
HC: Why AppDynamics over the other solutions out there?
KV: AppDynamics ticked all the boxes and was the only solution that allowed us to see our entire environment, giving us end-to-end visibility. Most importantly, it works in production. This was a major advantage as it gave us more confidence that it would actually provide us with some useful tools to help not just diagnosis but with proactive alerting prior to similar issues happening.
HC: How has AppDynamics helped solve some critical problems?
KV: We set-up email alerting which sends us immediate alerts when the services monitored exceed health thresholds, plus daily reports showing that day’s performance. The convenient alerts enable us to login to our controller with links straight from the email. We can then drill down to see exactly where the bottleneck/issue is likely to be. With the amount of traffic we get this is incredibly time saving. Having a snapshot of the environment at the exact time of the issue is vital to resolve the issue quickly.
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